For Reel

The Music Room (1958)
December 13, 2015, 11:47 pm
Filed under: Reviews | Tags: , ,

Director: Satyajit Ray
4.5 Stars
The Music RoomThat The Music Room was released between Aparajito and Apur Sansur suggested the breadth of Satyajit Ray’s ambition, revealing the great Indian director’s interest in the allegorical and fantastical in addition to the sense of realism that he brought to The Apu Trilogy. The opening shot of a chandelier seeming to float, rocking like a pendulum in an oppressive black void, reflected a huge stylistic departure, and one that would see Ray exploring more cerebral and obscure methods of storytelling and mise en scène. Whereas the train in Pather Panchali was a mythic image, signifying Apu’s great potential and future, The Music Room’s chandelier is at something more psychologically evocative, serving as both as a symbol of a dying generation and of the isolation of Huzur Biswambhar (Chhabi Biswas) himself. Ray struggled to find financing for Pather Panchali due to the project’s failure to meet the expectations of a traditional Indian entertainment, and so The Music Room’s lengthy performance sequences play as a subversive take on the state of Indian film itself, with the songs seamlessly integrated into the narrative but representing Biswambhar in stasis. These performances play as funeral ballads, signifying a time gone by, but also the vacuum of such obsessions. Biswambhar is clearly a true connoisseur, and yet his very admiration for musical talent is at odds with his own sense of a spiritual fulfillment. Entertainment, in The Music Room, is a temporary escape from the emptiness of everyday life. Therefore, as much as the performances take on a transcendental quality, the non-musical sequences are rendered all the more vacuous, as if escape is all Biswambhar has left.

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