Sid’s Salon – Sid keeps the classic films coming!
The Music Room (Jalsaghar) –– India Satyajit Ray, 1958 – 99 minutes
Wednesday, June 21th, 6:05-8:20pm.
Telegraph Hill Neighborhood Center, 660 Lombard
The superb and beloved Chhabi Biswas plays the zamindar or landlord, Biswamhbar Roy, the center of this moving depiction of the collapse of the old order in India and a tragedy that hastens that fall. The last in a line of revered ancestors, Roy is losing his land to annual floods and without income from it he is sinking slowly into destitution. Nonetheless, with a kind of mad passion, he clings to a luxurious life that has as its center his young son and the mansion’s mirrored and candlelit music room where he hopes his son, who shares his love of music, will someday perform. By pawning his own and his wife’s jewelry, he presents superb musicians, singers and dancers to friends and neighbors, including his “modern” money-lending neighbor. The noise of motor cars and trucks and air conditioning generators belonging to this “modern” neighbor continually violate Roy’s quiet palatial world and stir an urge in him to knock the boastful neighbor down a peg or two or ten.
The pace of this film is deliberately measured but cinematographer Subrata Mitra balances the pace by making superb use of the black and white film, deep focus, and varied camera angles to capture not only the remarkable concerts and comings and goings of Roy’s servants but the vast landscape with its quiet but menacing water that surrounds Roy’s mansion. Biswas’ depiction of Roy’s collapse provides it with an emotional force that, aided by the music, is powerful and mesmerizing.
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