100 Years of Satyajit Ray: Revisiting Charulata, a timeless narration of a woman’s unfulfilled desires

Satyajit Ray’s portrayal of a woman’s plight of an unfulfilling connection with her husband and finding solace in a developing bond with another man is remarkable in Charulata, his 1964 film.

Srimoyee Bhattacharya

April 29, 2021


5 min


Satyajit Ray was an author, illustrator, music composer, scriptwriter, lyricist, and more, but most of all, he was a legendary filmmaker! The year 2021 marks the 100th birth anniversary of Ray, who was born on May 2, 1921. Celebrating the man who gave this world some of the finest films of all time made with his extraordinary artistry, today we dive deeper into his 1964 wonder – Charulata!

Watch the Satyajit Ray film Charulata here:

Charulata is a true wonder of a film, that was made by the late filmmaker Satyajit Ray in 1964. The film stars renowned actors Soumitra Chatterjee, Madhabi Mukherjee, and Shailen Mukherjee in its characters of Amal, Charulata, and Bhupathi, respectively. Played with great distinction, all the actors, nail their roles in this Ray classic, effortlessly.

Also read: Apu and Krishna’s transformations from young adults to newlyweds are too sudden but we love them!

Charu and her plight

This Ray film revolves around the life of a married woman, Charu, who falls in love with her own brother-in-law, Amal. A graceful Charu faces a substantial lack of emotional connection with her own husband, Bhupathi (Shailen Mukherjee). Spending most of her time at home, she indulges in alone-time with books, sewing, music, and sometimes, little interactions with her sister-in-law.

Amal and Charu in Charulata
Source: ZEE5

Deprived of her romantic desires and her husband’s emotional attention, Charu finds herself rather bored with her usual routine. Ray marvellously represents her loneliness and boredom through tiny elements, like the caged bird that Charu brings inside when the kal-boishaki storm hits. However, the beauty of the film lies in the ways that these feelings are depicted on the big screen by its maker, Satyajit Ray.

Also read: Aparajita Apu: Apu’s fearless antics around her mother-in-law Abola are a humorous delight to witness

Bhupathi’s unintentional negligence

Charu’s unfulfilled desires are never portrayed in direct correlation to any absence of genuine love or care from her husband, Bhupathi. A man so liberal and focused on his work, Bhupathi tends to stay engaged with his newspaper business. He hopes to help nurture and elevate Charu’s literary interests but is so consumed in his liberalism that he simply fails to recognise his wife’s circumstantial perspective.

Charu and Bhupathi in Charulata
Source: ZEE5

Ray’s portrayal of this unique relationship of a late 19th-century upper-class couple is timeless. It succeeds at showcasing the minute nuances of love, interests, perspectives, feelings, and desires, that are relevant to this date.

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Amal – a lively delight

Lastly, but never the least, Soumitra Chatterjee‘s character, Amal is a delight to witness. Bhupathi’s cousin, Amal, arrives at the residency right when the kalboishaki storm hits, possibly signifying the potential rift his arrival was set to cause in Charu and Bhupathi’s relationship. A lively and fun young man, Amal finds himself spending a lot of time with Charu, as days pass by. Gradually but steadily, Charu finds herself drawn to Amal, who is the same age as her.

Charu and Amal in Charulata
Source: ZEE5

A timeless depiction by Satyajit Ray

Ray manages to portray Charu and Amal’s developing connection and admiration for one another, with nothing but absolute elegance in every scene. Upon realising Charu’s feelings for him, Bhupathi is left in silenced sorrow. Amal departs while leaving Charu and Bhupathi to find their way back to one another.

Amal and Charu in Charulata
Source: ZEE5

Ray’s Charulata does an incredible job at outlining the issue of how a woman’s emotional desires are often neglected, which exists even in today’s age. Based on Rabindranath Tagore’s Nastanirh, Satyajit Ray explored this subject over five decades ago, making Charulata a must-watch classic!

Watch other Satyajit Ray films such as Nayak only on ZEE5!

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