Thursday, January 26, 2006

Ganashatru

What an excellent movie. No frills, no pretense, no exaggeration, thought-provoking and leaving decisions on the viewer, meaning taking the audience to be intelligent. Ganashatru (An Enemy of the People) by Satyajit Ray is a movie that portrays the lack of principles in those who are actually supposed to be conscious and responsible for the good of the people, especially people in the press and the administration i.e. the government machinery.
The story starts with Dr Ashok Gupta (played by Soumitra Chatterjee - Satyajit Ray's favourite) getting a series of patients suffering from a specific kind of jaundice, in Chandipur hospital, where he practices. On sending samples of the water to Calcutta labs, the doctor is able to ascertain the contamination of water, as the results suggest. He wants to publish the findings. His brother (played by Dhritiman Chatterjee) the municipal chairman is opposed to this, as he does not want to bring disrepute to Chandipur, and has helped in building its reputation as a tourist attraction and a progressive and developed town. In an argument with his brother he says that to locate the point in the pipe system where drinking water is getting mixed up with sewage water, will be a very difficult and costly affair. He starts to oppose him and the doctor also warns that the central source of the diseases spreading could be the local temple where holy waters (charan-amrita) are given to the thousands of devotees everyday; and this is used by his brother as the main weapon to instigate people against the doctor. A newspaper promises to publish the truth, along with the lab reports, but later the editor (Deepankar Dey) refuses to publish it once he sees references of the temple in the article and is also threatened. Also displayed in the movie is how certain personal and vested interests can not only hinder the benefit, but also harm the masses at large. He is not allowed to speak out the details of the report at a public conference he calls, as a part of a conspiracy by his brother. Both the doctor and his daughter (played by Mamata Shankar) lose their jobs as a result of public displeasure. How something beneficial is completely misconstrued as harmful and projected as anti-people with a game-plan set by a handful. Finally the sub-editor of the same newspaper who wants the truth to come out, resigns and informs the doctor that he would send the article as a freelance journalist to all Calcutta dailies and also a local group of young people decide to print pamphlets of the article and distribute it all over the town. Here the movie ends as the doctor is shown instilled with relief, that there is still hope that an epidemic will not happen. The unwavering commitment of the good and the challenge that they are ready to face to defend the truth is the central theme in the movie in my opinion. The acting is brilliant by all the actors, most of whom are prominent and talented bengali ones. The movie is an adaptation of the play 'An Enemy of the People' by Henrik Ibsen.

3 comments:

  1. Most Bengali and Malayalam movies are a class apart. Where did you see the movie?

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  2. Watched this at home. Had bought the CD ...
    By the way did you watch 'Rang De Basanti' ?

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