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COMPANY LIMITED (SEEMABADDHA) (director/writer: Satyajit Ray; screenwriter: from the novel by Manisankar ‘Sankar’ Mukherjee; cinematographer: Soumendu Roy; editor: Dulal Dutta; music: Satyajit Ray; cast: Sharmila Tagore (Tutul), Barun Chanda (ShyamalenduChatterjee), Paromita Chowdhury (Dolan Chatterjee), Haradhan Bannerjee (Talukdar), Harindranath Chattopadhyay (Sir Baren Roy); Runtime: 113; MPAA Rating: NR; producers: Bharat Shumsher/Jungbahadur Rana; Mr. Bongo-PAL; 1972-India--in Bengali with English subtitles)
Superbly acted.”

Reviewed by Dennis Schwartz

Legendary Indian filmmaker Satyajit Ray(“The Lonely Wife”/”The Expedition”/”Pather Panchali“) uses the novel by Manisankar ‘Sankar’ Mukherjee to comment on social and economic issues in the Calcutta of the early 1970s. It tells the story of a son of a teacher from Patna, the bright university graduate Shyamalendu Chatterjee (Barun Chanda), who decides to take an executive position with a respectable British firm that manufactures fans and forgets about becoming a teacher. He marries local girl Dolor (Paromita Chowdhury), who enjoys her new life as the privileged wife of a corporate executive and is loyal to hubby. We meet the couple after they are married for ten years and have a 7-year-old son who goes to an exclusive boarding school in Darjeeling and they live in a luxury flat in Calcutta. Chatterjee has worked ten years for the firm to rise through hard work and ambition to be the sales manager of the fan division, and now wants to be promoted to a company director. His only rival is the equally ambitious sales manager of the lamps division.

During this period Chatterjee’s wife’s attractive younger single sister Tatul Tagore (Sharmila Tagore) comes for a two week visit. The couple give her a tour of the poverty-stricken city, where there are a number of recent killings. They show-off their well-furnished flat and introduce her at parties to his executive cronies, take her to eat in their exclusive club, take her on shopping tours and to a day at the races, and give her a full chance to observe their corporate lifestyle–which imitates the British nouveau riche.

When a big export order of fans to Iraq is compromised over a poor paint job and Chatterjee is unfairly held responsible, he has become so enamored with his comfortable empty life that he feels the only way he can get out of this predicament and still get promoted is by arranging with the corrupt personnel director (Haradhan Bannerjee) in staging a false work protest and agreeing to set off a bomb so that the factory closes and a new deal with a new date must be signed for the delivery of the fans. Tutul leaves without commenting on the empty life her sister and brother-in law are living, and feels regretful that the once decent and caring man, someone she once had a secret crush on, has sold his soul to the corporation and their questionable values.

The black and white film is superbly acted and shows how living a shallow and ambitious life can lead someone to make amoral decisions against humanity. This was the second of Ray’s Calcutta Trilogy, the others were The Adversary (1971) and (The Middle Man (1975).


Dennis Schwartz: “Ozus’ World Movie Reviews”