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Postby manikjethu on Mon Jul 06, 2009 11:41 pm

The second of the Master's three last films, SHAKHA PROSHAKHA is based on his own story. An old industrialist, known for his hard work and integrity, suffers a heart attack during a public function to felicitate him. He has four sons, out of whom the second is abnormal (he had a debilitating accident in London where he went as student, and now only spends time listening to Western classical music). The other three are successful professionals.

The patriarch is confident that his exemplary life had inspired his sons as well. As luck would have it, he learns that two of them, the eldest and the third, were eminently corrupt and indulged in widespread financial irregularities. He feels closest to his abnormal second son, untouched by the corruption of the world around him.

Not much of a film, eh? By the time SHAKHA PROSHAKHA was made, corruption in public life had long ceased to be a major issue. The very wisdom of making a film on that can well be questioned. But then, as with other Ray films, this one also dwells on the nature of human relationships, and very clearly demonstrates how obsession with professional success supersedes familial relations.

Towards the end of his life, the Master saw the medical world from very close quarters. In GANASHATRU, the central character was a doctor. In SHAKHA PROSHAKHA, a medical condition (a heart attack) was the central incident. He had even scripted a third film centred around a doctor, UTTORAN, but died before filming it (ultimately made by son Sandip).

If not for anything else, SHAKHA PROSHAKHA should be remembered for its use of Western classical music. The sequence in which the abnormal brother (played by Soumitro Chatterjee) listens to Gregorian chants in candle-light is unforgettable.
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