MONIHARA


Title   Cast   Director   Year Shown  Other Info    Country  Notes 




India , 40 min

Shown in 1971

CREDITS

dir
Satyajit Ray
scr
Satyajit Ray
cam
Soumendu Roy
cast
Kali Bannerjee, Kanika Mozumdar, Kumar Roy

OTHER

prod co
Satyajit Ray Productions
source
Satyajit Ray Productions

COMMENTS

Shown with Partner.

When Satyajit Ray decided to make a film based upon three stories by Rabindranath Tagore, "Teen Kanya" (1961), one of the sections, was cut from the final release print for overseas distribution. Thus, Two Daughters, as it was called, is really an incomplete work, and this showing of the excised portion of the film, entitled Monihara, reveals a surprisingly new side of Ray’s film style. Monihara is this director’s only venture into the genre of the horror film, an experiment with the macabre. The period is the last decade of the nineteenth century. The narrator of the story, a dishevelled schoolmaster, comes stumbling distractedly through the overgrown garden of a rambling, mysterious house in the village of Manikpur. The schoolmaster sits and begins to read from a manuscript while a black-cloaked figure sits hunched upon the old ghat by the river. The story he reads soon unfolds before our eyes in flashback, describing the English-educated, wealthy Indian Phanibhushan. He and his elegant and beautiful wife, Monimalika (or Moni) have come to live in the palatial house inherited from his childless uncle. At first, Monimalika, who controls her husband completely, is merely moody, glad to have escaped his relatives who dislike her. Day after day, the good-natured Phanibhushan seeks to please his frigid and increasingly neurotic wife. She is only soothed by diamonds and her vast jewel collection is her main interest—it is the only gift that will elicit an amorous response. The tension of the story grows with the appearance of a “relative” from the heroine’s past, Madhusudan, who comes to visit Moni. One is not quite certain what the young man wants, but he is definitely part of an unsavory side of Moni’s life. When the husband’s jute mill catches fire, he flees to Calcutta to salvage his fortune, promising to return soon with more jewels for Moni. However, Moni is afraid that her unloved husband might demand her jewels to save his business, and she asks Madhusudan to help her escape. Monihara soon becomes a tragedy of greed and passion, with ghosts to terrify the living—one need not know more, except that this neglected gem of Satyajit Ray’s work still retains its dramatic glow and should not be missed.

—Albert Johnson