January 17, 2009


Devi (The Goddess) 1960

Year - 1960
Producer - Satyajit Ray Productions
Screenplay - Satyajit Ray
Based on - The short story Devi by Prabhart Kumar Mukherjee
Photography - Subrata Mitra
Editor - Dulal Dutta
Art Director - Bansi Chandragupta
Music - Ali Akbhar Khan
Sound - Durgadas Mitra
Length - 93 min.
Print - Black & White

Doyamoyee - Sharmila Tagore
Kalikinkar Roy - Chhabi Biswas
Umaprasad - Soumitra Chatterjee
Taraprasad - Purnendu
Harasundari - Karuna Bannerjee
Khoka - Arpan Chowdhury
Bhudeb - Anil Chatterjee
Professor Sarkar - Kali Sarkar
Nibaran - Mohammed Israil
Kaviraj - Khagesh Chakravarty
Priest - Nagendranath Kabyabyakarantirtha
Sarala - Santa Devi

The action takes place in 1860 at Chandipur, in Bengal, in a rural setting. Kalikinkar, the master of the house and local zamindar, has a revelation during a dream: his daughter-in-law Doyamoyee has manifested herself to him as an incarnation of the goddess Kali. Installed in the family temple, she cures the sick child of an itinerant man who seeks her help. Her husband Umaprasad, who has received a western-based education at a Calcutta university, finds himself dispossessed of his wife who has become a "goddess." In a critical scene, Umaprasad attacks tradition and tries to reason with his father, although unsuccessfully. The cure seems a miracle which demonstrates the truth of the traditional beliefs, and a crowd of worshippers comes to venerate her. Doyamoyee's beloved nephew, the child Khoka, falls ill. He is placed in the care of his aunt, but she is unable to save him. His death shatters her and she is overwhelmed by madness.

In this film, as well as in Charulata (The Lonely Wife, 1964) and Ghare Baire (The Home and the World, 1984), Ray explores the cultural emergence of the idea of the "modern woman" in the upper class of colonial India, showing with striking sensitivity the pressures this new ideal placed on individual women whose self-identities were also molded by traditional expectations.
The original negative of this film was lost in a fire.

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