Kapurush - O - Mahapurush (The Coward & The Holy Man)

1965, India. A double bill. Kapurush (The Coward): 74 min.; Mahapurush (The Holy Man): 65min. B/W, In Bengali with subtitles


Kapurush (The Coward)

Amitabha Roy (Soumitra Chatterjee) is a Calcutta based scriptwriter who is driving around in the country to collect material for a film. His vehicle breaks down in a small town. A tea planter, Bimal Gupta, offers hospitality for the night. Amitabha is forced to accept the offer as he has no alternative.

At Gupta’s house, he is introduced to his wife Karuna (Madhabi Mukherjee). Amitabha is shocked to find her to be the girl he once loved and had let down. Unaware of their past relationship, Gupta entertains Amitabha. He comes across as a simple man with none of the physical or intellectual charms of Roy.

Amitabha manages to steal a few moments alone with Karuna. He conveys to her about his love and asks her to leave her husband. Karuna hides her own feelings. Unable to regain the old intimacy with her, he remembers his betrayal. It was the last time he saw her. Forced by her uncle who did not approve of the relationship and wanted to send her away, She came to him. Even though Roy was a poor student, she had made up her mind to accept his situation and confront her family’s disapproval. Roy, however, proved to be a coward. Now that he is a successful man, Amitabha asks Karuna to leave her husband for him. Karuna, however, does or says a little to encourage him.

The next morning, Amitabha decides to take the train instead of waiting for the vehicle to be repaired. He writes note to Karuna, requesting her to meet him at the railway station if she still cared for him.

Amitabha waits for Karuna at the station. Karuna does arrive but only to snub him before going back to her husband.

Mahapurush (The Holy Man)

After the death of his wife, Gurupada Mitter (Prasad Mukherjee), an advocate, has not been at peace. He and his daughter Buchki (Gitali Roy), meet Birinchi (Charuprakash Ghosh). Birinchi Baba claims to be ageless. He tells stories from the past; about his arguments with ‘Pluto’ about time, how he taught E=mc2 to Einstein, and was on first-name terms with Jesu (Christ) and Gautam (Buddha). Birinchi Baba has a growing band of rich devotees.

Gurupada decides to patronize the holy man and become his disciple. Daughter Buchki is disappointed with her lover Satya. To teach him a lesson, she tells Satya that she is going to leave him and become a disciple of Birinchi Baba.

Satya turns to his friend Nibaran for his help. It does not take Nibaran long to realize that Birinchi Baba is a fraud. Nibaran and friends expose Birinchi Baba. The devotees feel foolish and perhaps have learnt a lesson.


Kapurush, though the story is quite simple, a love triangle, beneath the surface a complex range of emotions are felt. Performances, the camerawork and the imagination of the audience bring out the tensions and the emotional under currents among the three characters. We are never sure if Karuna’s husband is aware of her affair with Roy.

What others say…

Kapurush reveals Ray at his very sharpest as a psychologist; every scene is model of supple, lifelike dialogue and probing, telling camerawork. ... there is much below the surface that does not strike the casual gaze. Although Mahapurush is near to straight farce, it still has a rich script carried off with much aplomb and relish by its cast.
Ardrew Robinson, Photo by Jonathan Bowen
Andrew Robinson
Ray's Biographer


Producer: RDB & Co (R.D. Bansal / (RDB Productions)
Screenplay & Direction: Satyajit Ray, Based on the short stories: ‘Janaiko Kapuruser Kahini’ by Premendra Mitra (The Coward) and ‘Birinchibaba’ by Parashuram (The Holy Man)
Cinematography: Soumendu Roy
Editing: Dulal Dutta
Art Direction: Bansi Chandragupta
Sound: Nripen Pal, Atul Chatterjee, Sujit Sarkar
Music: Satyajit Ray



Amitabha Roy: Soumitra Chatterjee
Bimal Gupta: Haradhan Bannerjee
Karuna Gupta: Madhabi Mukherjee


Birinchi Baba: Charuprakash Ghosh
His assistant: Rabi Ghosh
Gurupada Mitter: Prasad Mukherjee
Buchki: Gitali Roy
Satya: Satindra Banerjee
Nibaran: Somen Bose
Professor Nani: Santosh Dutta
Professor’s wife: Renuka Roy
Karuna (Madhabi Mukherjee) and Amitabha Roy (Soumitra Chatterjee), Kapurush
Karuna (Madhabi Mukherjee) and Amitabha Roy (Soumitra Chatterjee), Kapurush
Karuna (Madhabi Mukherjee), Kapurush
Karuna (Madhabi Mukherjee), Kapurush
Karuna (Madhabi Mukherjee) and Amitabha Roy (Soumitra Chatterjee), Kapurush
Karuna (Madhabi Mukherjee) and Amitabha Roy (Soumitra Chatterjee), Kapurush
Birinchi Baba (Charuprakash Ghosh), Mahapurush
Birinchi Baba (Charuprakash Ghosh), Mahapurush
Kapurush Still- courtesy Janus Films
Kapurush Still- courtesy Janus Films