Pratidwandi is one of my favourite films of Satyajit Ray. In-fact, I’ll place it above Apu trilogy and Charulata. This is political drama at its best. Set in the age of hippies, communism and newly born Naxalism, when Woodstock and the Vietnam war were fresh, the film reflects the bitterness and anger of an intelligent, sensitive young man engaged in the Herculean task of finding a job. This is one film that rightly depicts the Calcutta of the late sixties.
It was a difficult period for India and West Bengal. Corruption was rampant. Unemployment raged the youth of India. I absolutely loved the flashbacks and the way X-ray digressions have been employed by Ray. The ending scene was particularly marvellous, where the protagonist Siddharth, chooses ideology over helplessness. No wonder the inspiring communist of Hazaron Khwashein Aisi is also named Siddharth.
The film is stylistically experimental for Ray, featuring techniques inspired by the French New Wave, such as jump-cuts, edgy framing, dream sequences, and sexual metaphors. Some of the experimental techniques which the film pioneered include photo-negative flashbacks and X-ray digressions. There are a number of dream sequences which reminded me of Bergman’s Wild Strawberries.
I’ll give it 10/10. What about you?
The film shows how Ray could easily surpass the New Wave giants if he wanted to! Yet it is more poetic than most New Wave works.