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Mahanagar (The Big City) (The Great City)

Mahanagar (The Big City) (The Great City) (1967)


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Average Rating: N/A
Critic Reviews: 4
Fresh: 3 | Rotten: 1



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Average Rating: 4.1/5
User Ratings: 722

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Movie Info

Satyajit Ray, India's premiere film director, takes a rare foray into social satire with 1963's The Big City. Anil Chaterjee stars as the typically subjugated wife of an Indian bank official. When the banker loses his job, he orders Anil to find work to make ends meet. The wife subsequently runs the household finances so brilliantly that soon she is in the driver's seat, in direct opposition to long-established Indian matrimonial custom. Seen by some critics as a subtle plea for improving the

Jan 1, 2004

Edward Harrison/Sony Pictures Classics

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All Critics (21) | Top Critics (5) | Fresh (17) | Rotten (2) | DVD (1)

Ray's style is direct, realist and sympathetic.

August 13, 2013 Full Review Source: Time Out
Time Out
Top Critic IconTop Critic

There is nothing obscure or over-stylized about this characteristic work by Mr. Ray. It is another of his beautifully fashioned and emotionally balanced contemplations of change in the thinking, the customs and the manners of the Indian middle-class.

September 1, 2007 Full Review Source: New York Times
New York Times
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One of the most rewarding screen experiences of our time. I warmly encourage you to see it.

August 29, 2006 Full Review Source: Chicago Sun-Times
Chicago Sun-Times
Top Critic IconTop Critic

There are so many ways in which Ray is entitled to demand respect that I felt absolutely naughty wanting something to happen quickly.

January 1, 2000 Full Review Source: San Francisco Chronicle
San Francisco Chronicle
Top Critic IconTop Critic

Lyrical Ozu-like family drama.

March 17, 2014 Full Review Source: Ozus' World Movie Reviews
Ozus' World Movie Reviews

a complex, but ultimately generous depiction of humanity trying to navigate the uncertainties of a changing world

September 11, 2013 Full Review Source: Q Network Film Desk
Q Network Film Desk

Ray was known for his historical tales, but lost absolutely nothing with the shift to contemporary urban life.

September 9, 2013 Full Review Source: Movie Metropolis
Movie Metropolis

Mostly, The Big City is impressive for how Ray makes his observations about Arati's lot in life without saying anything directly.

August 21, 2013 Full Review Source: The Dissolve
The Dissolve

Ray's Calcutta is a bustling Dickensian city of disappointment and hope, of new possibilities and old temptations, of entrepreneurs seizing opportunities in a changing society ...

August 18, 2013 Full Review Source: Observer [UK]
Observer [UK]

A bustling urban drama about the conflicts of work, gender and money, richly believable in the details and fascinating in its social vision.

August 16, 2013 Full Review Source: Daily Telegraph
Daily Telegraph

An utterly absorbing and moving drama about the changing worlds of work and home in 1950s India, and a hymn to uxorious love acted with lightness, intelligence and wit.

August 15, 2013 Full Review Source: Guardian

Funny, entirely relatable and beautifully shot slice of 1950s Calcutta life that centres around the dynamics of a middle-class family and the changing values of the time.

August 15, 2013 Full Review Source: ViewLondon

Incredibly rich and satisfying. Would easily stand up to multiple viewings.

August 15, 2013 Full Review Source: Little White Lies
Little White Lies

Another Ray work of deceptive simplicity and deep-lying emotion.

August 12, 2013 Full Review Source: Empire Magazine
Empire Magazine

Ray draws from Mukherjee a performance of delectable subtlety as she comes to recognise her moral and financial independence.

August 12, 2013 Full Review Source: Total Film
Total Film

Beautiful and restrained, Madhabi Mukherjee powerfully highlights ... as a traditional Bengali housewife who transforms into a modern working woman in 1960's Calcutta

February 18, 2007 Full Review Source: Old School Reviews
Old School Reviews

Interesting portrait of family life in India where a feminist is as rare as a quagga.

August 29, 2006 Full Review Source: TV Guide's Movie Guide
TV Guide's Movie Guide

Audience Reviews for Mahanagar (The Big City) (The Great City)

Mahanagar is probably my favorite Satyajit Ray so far. It really is a slice of the times and just shows how things were changing in the world. It is an honest account of emancipation but also of a changing economic climate and a change of what was expected. Ever member of the family has a reaction to something we take for granted these days. It's part kitchen sink drama and part historical document, it's somewhere between Ozu's Late Spring and Aki Kaurismški's Drifting Clouds. The ending is so heartwarming and so positive it really makes for a joyous conclusion.
May 10, 2013

Super Reviewer

[font=Century Gothic]In "Mahanagar," Subrata(Anil Chatterjee) is a bank manager but cannot afford to support his extended family which includes his aging parents(Haren Chatterjee & Sefalika Devi). His father is a former university professor who is envious of his former students' success while lacking eyeglasses which could help him win the crossword competition. Subrata is so desperate that he contradicts his conservative principles to suggest his wife, Arati(Madhabi Mukherjee), get a job, at least until he can get a second job himself...[/font]

[font=Century Gothic]While "Mahanagar" is slow at times, it more than makes up for it with some classic moments, excellent character development and insights into the Indian society of the time the film was made. What writer-director Satyajit Ray is specifically interested in is pointing out that whereas once ethnicity was the ruling principle, it has now been superseded by class. For example, a woman of English descent is in the same boat as Arati, as they work together and bond over their jobs selling knitting machines to wealthy families. In a society as status obsessed as this, Subrata feels that men should be able to support their families without asking for help. But there are times when pride gives way in the face of economic realities. [/font]
May 12, 2010
Walter M.

Super Reviewer

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Foreign Titles

  • The Big City (Mahanagar) (DE)
  • The Big City (Mahanagar) (UK)
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