The Music Room (1958)

The Music Roomlarge_9jeYEJHRHoWBx08XnlBRC9AXZHi (Jalsaghar)
Directed by Satyajit Ray
Written by Satyajit Ray and Santi P. Chouhury from a story by Tarashankar Banerjee
1958/India
Arora
First viewing/Hulu Plus
#350 of 1001 Movies You Must See Before You Die

“One good thing about music, when it hits you, you feel no pain.” ― Bob Marley

A gorgeous film about the disintegration of an aesthete.

Huzur Biswambhar Roy (Chhabi Biswas) is the last in a long line of zamindars (landlords).  He has a host of devoted servants fulfilling his every need.  People refer to him as “king”.  Roy’s greatest pleasure is to host lavish recitals in his music room.

But Roy has fallen on hard times.  He has spent his last dime and is rapidly plundering his wife’s jewels.  Still, he insists on carrying on as previously hosting an extremely expensive party for his son’s coming of age to the great dismay of his wife.  He is above seeking funds from his moneylender neighbor Mahim, a nouveau riche man who doesn’t even have a music room.

The-Music-Room-1958

Mahim is determined to outdo Roy and invites him to the inauguration of his own music room.  Roy is not to be outdone and spends even more money on a recital of his own on the very same night.  Tragedy strikes and Roy becomes a recluse for several years as he loses lands, servants and more.  But Mahim continues to prosper, setting up the sad conclusion.

The Music Room 19

This film is breathtakingly shot.  It also features a lot of outstanding Indian classical music.  Biswas manages to make his character both heartbreaking and deeply aggravating at the same time.  Recommended.

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2 thoughts on “The Music Room (1958)

    • I’ve been thinking about it and it seems to me that one of Ray’s major themes is how the caste system and tradition can destroy people. Though he kind of celebrates these at the same time. Hmmm…

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