Movies About Village Life
2 Nov 2013
Pather Panchali

Director: Satyajit Ray (1955, Bengali, 119 mins)

Reviews: RottenTomatoes (97%), IMDB (8.1), Wikipedia, Amazon, Roger Ebert.

Watch online: YouTube.

Similar movies: death, family, village life.

Summary: Pather Panchali is one of my favorite movies. It was the first movie by Satyajit Ray and one of his best. The story revolves around a poor family in Bengal. Every character in the story is a combination of good and bad qualities. They interact with each other, just like normal people in a village. The strength of the movie is in showcasing simple, routine events in the lives of its characters in meticulous detail, without any moral judgment.

Satyajit Ray chose ordinary characters for Pather Panchali, not artists who had been trained in acting. Acting is superb, camerawork is great. Something that I really liked was that emotions were conveyed through gestures and facial expressions, with minimal or no dialogue.

A recent movie, Slumdog Millionaire (2008, Hindi) also showcases poverty in India. I was quite put off by this movie. First, Slumdog Millionaire is neither fiction nor realistic; it is somewhere in between. Pather Panchali is realistic. Second, the portrayal of poverty in Slumdog Millionaire was distasteful, as if poverty is a disease or a curse. Satyajit Ray showcases poverty in a dignified way. The characters in his movie shine through their circumstances. I felt uplifted after watching the movie.


The Cloud Capped Star (Meghe Dhake Tara)

Director: Ritwik Ghatak (1960, Bengali, 126 mins)

Reviews: RottenTomatoes (N/A), IMDB (8.1), Amazon.

Watch online: YouTube.

Similar movies: depressing, family, illness, intense, village life.

Summary: Haunting and tragic. Very well made. Character development and story telling were both wonderful. I felt that each role was played to perfection and there were no extra characters.

This is the first movie by Ritwik Ghatak that I saw and I really liked it. Recommended if you're in a mood to watch a serious, sombre, tragedy.



Director: Shyam Benegal (1974, Hindi, 131 mins)

Reviews: RottenTomatoes (N/A), IMDB (7.9), Wikipedia, Amazon.

Watch online: YouTube.

Similar movies: village life.


Bhuvan Shome

Director: Mrinal Sen (1969, Hindi, 96 mins)

Reviews: RottenTomatoes (11%), IMDB (7.0), Wikipedia, Amazon.

Watch online: YouTube, YouTube.

Similar movies: comedy, joyful, old age, village life.

Summary: A cute movie with a simple story. Utpal Dutt is cast in a semi-comical role. He is a grumpy, 50-year old widower and a strict disciplinarian. He takes a break from his city life to spend some time in a village. He is hosted by a family of two: a father and his recently married daughter. The innocence and joyfulness of the daughter ("Gauri", played by Suhasini Mulay) transforms him. The movie is worth watching for her playfulness and her big smiles :) The soundtrack has good classical music.


The Island (Dweepa)

Director: Girish Kasaravalli (2002, Kannada, 132 mins)

Reviews: RottenTomatoes (N/A), IMDB (6.0), Wikipedia.

Watch online: YouTube, YouTube, YouTube.

Similar movies: family, village life.

Summary: A village is about to be submerged in water because of a dam. The goverment is paying a family of three a meager sum of money to relocate. However the family (husband, wife and husband's father) are priests. By relocating to a small town and starting afresh, they stand to lose the love and respect they traditionally received, generation after generation.

Many shots have water. The river, the rains, the jungle and lush green valleys would be lovely to see on a large screen with good print. Music is good, with a simple but haunting tune that plays in the background repeatedly.

The movie is attractive for a special reason. Through its characters, the director makes us think: Who is doing things? Is it us or the Universe? How should we face a situation? With optimism, fatalism, withdrawal or fantasy? The 'Inner Theme' section in the Wikipedia article has a well written summary of the belief systems and the approach to life of the four main characters:

As in all films by Girish Kasaravalli, Dweepa deals with an 'inner' theme: that of human minds that isolate themselves due to former beliefs and convictions. Each character emerges as a representation of different viewpoints. The protagonist Nagi (Soundarya) has been portrayed as an optimistic character whose support is hope and only that. One can notice how the character finally emerges as a symbol of positive thinking and optimism. Ganapa (Avinash), on the contrary, resigns to fate and finally, when they narrowly escape submersion, he fails to see that his wife has achieved the impossible. Duggajja (M.V.VasudevaRao) withdraws from the catastrophe rather than face it. He is devastated to see his convictions and beliefs crumble before his eyes and, in the end, he clings to his beliefs in desperation. Krishna (Harish Raju) portrays a typical dreamer, who can mesmerize the village folk with fairy tales about the world beyond the isolated island. In short, he encapsulates the 'fantasy' world we tend to dream about.

Just like the French movie Red, the main female character is awesome! She personifies hope, commitment and strength. I could watch this movie again to see how she deftly handles situations.


Well Done Abba!

Director: Shyam Benegal (2009, Hindi, 144 mins)

Reviews: IMDB (7.2), Amazon.

Similar movies: comedy, family, village life.

Summary: Yet to write.


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