For the 2012 film, see Chaarulatha.

A poster for Charulata.
Directed by Satyajit Ray
Produced by R.D.Bansal
Screenplay by Satyajit Ray
Based on Nastanirh
by Rabindranath Tagore
Starring Soumitra Chatterjee,
Madhabi Mukherjee,
Sailen Mukherjee,
Syamal Ghosal
Music by Satyajit Ray
Cinematography Subrata Mitra
R.D.Bansal & Co.
Distributed by Edward Harrison (US)
Release dates
  • 17 April 1964 (1964-04-17)
Running time
117 minutes
Country India
Language Bengali with some English

Charulata (Bengali: চারুলতা Cārulatā; in English also known as The Lonely Wife) is a 1964 Indian Bengali drama film by director Satyajit Ray, based upon the novella Nastanirh ("The Broken Nest") by Rabindranath Tagore. It features Soumitra Chatterjee, Madhabi Mukherjee and Sailen Mukherjee.


The film tells the story of a lonely housewife, known as Charu (Madhabi Mukherjee), who lives a wealthy, secluded and idle life in 1870's Calcutta. Her husband, Bhupati (Sailen Mukherjee), runs a newspaper, The Sentinel, and spends a lot more time at work than with his wife. However, he notices that Charu is lonely, and asks his cousin, Amal (Soumitra Chatterjee), to keep her company. Amal is a writer and is asked to help Charu with her own writing. However, after some time, Charu and Amal's feelings for each other move beyond those of a mentoring relationship.



Charulata is based on the 1901 novella Nastanirh (The Broken Nest) by Bengali author Rabindranath Tagore.[1] Ray later said that he liked the novella because "it has a western quality to it and the film obviously shares that quality. That's why I can speak of Mozart in connection with Charulata quite validly."[2] Ray decided to set the film in the 1880s instead of in 1901 and spent many months researching the historical background. For the first time in his career he worked without a deadline both during pre-production and during the shooting.[3] Ray worked closely with art director Bansi Chandragupta and no interior scene was shot on location. All sets were either built or remodeled to accurately portray India in the 1880s. Ray cast Indian actress Madhabi Mukherjee in the role of Charulata, but had difficulty with her owing to her addiction to chewing paan, which stained her teeth black. Because of this Ray had to be careful about what camera angles he used to film her.[4] Ray once called Charulata his favourite of his own films.[5]


Charulata holds one of the highest ratings for an Indian film in Rotten Tomatoes, a 96% 'fresh' rating. It also holds an 8.4/10 rating on imdb. It has been widely regarded as one of the finest films made in Indian cinema history, and has won wide critical acclaim overseas as well.

In Sight and Sound, Penelope Houston praised the film, stating that "the interplay of sophistication and simplicity is extraordinary".[6] A New York Times review said that the film "moved like a majestic snail, as do all Ray films".[5] In 1965, The Times of London remarked upon the film's depiction of values that seemed influenced by the English, stating that "this stratum of Indian life was more English than England".[5]

It was shown as part of the Cannes Classics section of the 2013 Cannes Film Festival.[7]


The Academy Film Archive preserved Charulata in 1996.[8]



Reversal of the gaze, Charulata (Madhabi Mukherjee), sitting on her swing and looking at Amal

The film contains a famous scene in which Charu (Madhabi Mukherjee) sings Rabindranath Tagore's song "Fule Fule Dhole Dhole" on a swing, while looking at Amal (Soumitra Chatterjee). The scene is referenced in the Bollywood film Parineeta during the song sequence, Soona Man Ka Aangan. Indeed, Parineeta 's Lalita (Vidya Balan) is dressed to resemble Nastanirh/Charulata 's Charu. Furthermore, Parineeta is based upon the novel Parineeta by Sarat Chandra Chattopadhyay who was a noted contemporary of Tagore (and who also wrote novels concerned with social reform).[10][11]

Home media

In 2013, The Criterion Collection released a restored high-definition digital transfer and new subtitle translations.[12]


  1. Robinson, Arthur. Satyajit Ray: The Inner Eye. Los Angeles: University of California Press. 1989. ISBN 0-520-06905-6. pp. 159.
  2. Robinson. pp. 160.
  3. Robinson. pp. 161.
  4. Robinson. pp. 162.
  5. 1 2 3 Robinson. pp. 157.
  6. Robinson. pp. 156.
  7. "Cannes Classics 2013 line-up unveiled". Screen Daily. Retrieved 2013-04-30.
  8. "Preserved Projects". Academy Film Archive.
  9. "Berlinale 1965: Prize Winners". Retrieved 2010-02-20.
  10. Gupta, Pratim D. (2005-06-11). "The Telegraph - Calcutta : Nation". Calcutta, India: Retrieved 2011-05-31.
  11. "Magazine / Lifestyle : Something new, something old". Chennai, India: The Hindu. 2005-08-07. Retrieved 2011-05-31.
  12. "Charulata: "Calm Without, Fire Within" – From the Current – The Criterion Collection". Retrieved 2015-03-19.

Further reading

External links

This article is issued from Wikipedia - version of the 11/20/2016. The text is available under the Creative Commons Attribution/Share Alike but additional terms may apply for the media files.