Bil’s rating (out of 5): BBBB
Original Title: Mahapurush
India, 1965. R.D.Banshal & Co., Rajshri Productions. Screenplay by Satyajit Ray, based on the story Birinchi Baba by Rajshekhar ‘Parashuram’ Basu. Cinematography by Soumendu Roy. Produced by R.D. Bansal. Music by Satyajit Ray. Production Design by Bansi Chandragupta. Film Editing by Dulal Dutta
Satyajit Ray pokes good-natured fun at religious fervour in this very funny, miniature featurette. A spiritual guru who is all the rage in the provinces shares a train compartment with a wealthy widower who has not gotten over his wife’s death and is traveling with his beautiful young daughter. At first confounded by the figure before him, the old man falls for his cheap tricks (making the sun rise!) and instantly becomes obsessed with him, bringing him home and setting him up in comfort. The situation is observed from the outside by a lovelorn young man who is determined to marry the widower’s daughter but can’t do so until he saves her family from the clutches of this charlatan. After considering the matter with his fellow modern cynics, all of whom carry on breezily funny discussions that play out in an appealingly theatrical fashion in their drawing room, a plan is formulated to reveal the holy man’s fraudulence once and for all. Sharp, short and witty, blessed with beautiful visuals, this is another example of Ray’s humane storytelling, effectively pointing out the folly of the worshippers’ fervent beliefs without insulting them.