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Agantuk: Movie Review

May 15, 2009

Agantuk, which means “The Stranger” is the last film by  Satyajit Ray. Strange as it may seem, incidentally, this film was my introduction to Satyajit Ray’s work.Released in 1991, this Bengali film went on to win three National awards and one international award at the Venice film festival. After having seen the movie, it’s not hard to say why Satyajit Ray is considered to be one of the greatest film makers of all time. The simplicity in his movies maybe the trademark but make no mistake here, those stories tell some of the most complex tales about life. Ray’s “Agantuk” is a film about a family which is under a cloud of suspicion about a man who claims to be their estranged family member.

Anila (Mamata Shankar) receives a letter from her Uncle Manomohan Mitra (Utpal Dutt) who requests her to accept him as a guest in their house for few days. Anila and her husband Sudhindhra (Deepankar Deb) immediately suspect the motives behind this visit, the reason being, nobody in Anila’s family has heard the whereabouts of Manomohan for several decades. Unwillingly she accepts Manomohan as a guest and after a point of time she’s convinced that he indeed is her uncle. But Sudhindhra refuses to give up and plots to extract the truth about Manomohan. This is where, Manomohan explains the family where he had been and how his life changed after he left his home. But then things get a little out of hand and he decides to…

Utpal Dutt is heart and soul of the film. He performs his role with elan and conjures up an unforgettable act in some scenes. I had seen him in some of Hrishikesh Mukherjee’s comedies like “Golmal”, hence this role in “Agantuk” was all the more surprising. There are quite a few monologues in this film and they all describe what he had been doing all these years. Mamata Shankar, renders a soulful performance who tries to strike a balance between her love for her estranged uncle and her husband’s suspicions. Deepankar Deb does well and so do other characters who have other roles in this wonderful film.

I cannot talk about Satyajit Ray and what makes him great! It’s all there to see, each and every film of his is nothing short of a master piece and some of them have been timeless classics. Agantuk is in a way Ray’s take on materialism and how people lose faith in others. Travelling, as a way of life, is also dealt with in this film and some of the dialouges on this subject form the core of the film as a whole. The main character is the one with all the answers, one who has seen life from various angles, more learned and tolerant to people from different cultures. Although most of us find this way of life quite irresponsible, I opine that probably this is what we need to do at some point of time. The sooner, the better.

Agantuk, maybe already two decades old, but its message is still relevant. It’s a heart warming tale of  a family and fiddles with the concept like alienation, lifestyle and perception of other cultures. Watch this flick, for its brilliant performances, dialogues, theme and Satyajit Ray.

P.S: I must see Ray’s earlier works especially, Apu’s Trilogy, Charulatha.

P.P.S: I wish, one day, I could travel like that. There’s so much to be seen and learn from and so little time!

2 Comments leave one →
  1. May 15, 2009 11:46 pm

    I definitely wasnt expecting you to write a review on Agantuk, given the discussion we had about it. But good to see you promoting a movie that I really loved

    • Hemanth permalink*
      May 15, 2009 11:52 pm

      @H: well, had to start off on Satyajit Ray at some point! 🙂 I really should have watched this flick prior to “The Art of Travel”!…Maybe I would have raved even more about it…:)

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