Tag Archives: Satyajit Ray

Beauty in the Movies: Mahanagar

Ok, so with my new job I’ve been pretty busy and have to squeeze blog-time in before bed (which usually doesn’t happen). As a result, Beauty in the Movies is going to be a little paired down for a while, I’m still going to feature great movies, just with fewer details depending on how hectic things are.

Today I am featuring a fantastic film that a lot of people might not be familiar with—Satyajit Ray’s Mahanagar (its English title is The Big City).

Arati Mazumder is a typical Indian housewife, living in early 1960s Calcutta, and taking care of not only her husband and child but her young sister-in-law and her husband’s parents as well. When her husband unexpectedly loses his job, she attempts to save the family by taking a position as a sewing machine sales woman.

Having a career quickly leads to a sense of liberation for Arati, especially when she meets an Anglo-Indian woman at work who introduces her to cat eye sunglasses, lipstick and the realities of discrimination.

Like all of Ray’s films, this one has excellent characters that are endearing, relatable and multidimensional. He had a talent for taking simple stories and making them incredibly meaningful without depending on drama or sentimentality.

For Arati, lipstick becomes symbolic of her empowerment, she applies it before attempting to ask for a raise or make a sales pitch. It is not a form of vanity for her, but a source of courage and change.


I highly recommend this film, it’s entertaining, moving, and uplifting too.  It’s a film with a strong feminist theme, but it doesn’t hit you over the head with its message, or sacrifice entertainment for the sake of it. Mahanagar is a familiar, deceptively simple story, but in its own way it’s timeless and still incredibly relevant today.

Beauty in the Movies: Mahanagar


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