(director/writer: Satyajit Ray; screenwriter: based on two stories, The Postmaster and The Conclusion by Rabindranath Tagore; cinematographer: Soumendu Roy; editor: Dulal Dutta; music: Satyajit Ray; cast: The Postmaster: Anil Chatterjee (Nandalal), Chandana Banerjee (Ratan), Nripati Chatterjee (Bishey), Khagen Pathak (Khagen), Gopal Roy (Bilash)/The Conclusion: Aparna das Gupta (Mrinmoyee), Soumitra Chatterjee (Amulya), Sita Mukherjee (Jogmaya), Gita Dey (Nistarini), Santosh Dutta (Kishori), Mihir Chakravarti (Rakhal); Runtime: 114; MPAA Rating: NR; producer: Satyajit Ray; Janus; 1961-India-in Bengali with English subtitles)

“Two modest but beautifully shot stories.”

Reviewed by Dennis Schwartz

Satyajit Ray (“The Home and the World”/”The Chess Players”/”Distant Thunder”) directs and writes two modest but beautifully shot stories in black and white, both are coming of age tales focusing on a woman’s emancipation from class or tradition and her growing love or affection. In India it was released as a three-episode film, but when shipped abroad its third episode, “Monihara,” was dropped. It’s based on the Indian poet Rabindranath Tagore’ two stories: The Postmaster and The Conclusion. Ray made it as a homage to the great poet.

The first story is the superior one, The Postmaster. Nandalal (Anil Chatterjee) is a city boy poet who takes a job in the country as postmaster. In the isolated village the stranger is looked after by Ratan (Chandana Bannerjee), a mistreated orphan girl of 10, who serves as his assistant and only friend. Nandalal tutors her in the education that was denied her (reading and writing) and she longs for, while she nurses him back to health from a bout with malaria. But life in the sticks is too dull for Nandalal and he returns to the city, but soon realizes on his departure the profound feelings between the two.

The second story is about Amulya (Soumitra Chatterjee), an unmarried law student. He returns home from his studies to find his mom arranged for him to marry an ugly bride. He instead marries Mrinmoyee (Aparna Das Gupta), the local carefree tomboy. When the bride runs away on her wedding night, telling the groom she was forced into the marriage, it causes some gossip and scandal among the locals. When the bride is captured by the locals and returned, a disillusioned Amulya releases his bride from her marriage vows and goes back alone to Calcutta. While he’s gone Mrinmoyee undergoes a change of heart and goes back of her own free will to her husband realizing that she loves him.

Both stories are gracefully and gently presented, doing justice to their literary roots. It combines droll humor with pathos, revealing how the everyday common people of India live.