I just watched 'Kanchenjungha' by Satyajit Ray. Some say its a slow-paced movie, but I once again found how wrong they are.
When I first saw it I was too young to delve deep into its depth. But afterwards whenever I saw it, it seemed something new is being revealed every time. The movie spans for two hours depicting two hours on a sunny-cloudy afternoon in Darjeeling. Technically this is also amazing, and probably this is what makes some viewers feel that the movie is slow. But life is very fast now and it depicts the life at the life's original pace, I wonder how can it be slow. Actually in a single movie we are much accustomed to see effects, and actions of a whole lifetime rather than the reality of living. So when something captures the plain and simple reality of our monotonous existence, it is often misunderstood. That is why it gained a sort of negative feedback from both audience and critics on its release. Ray has said about Kanchenjungha, in an interview to Cineaste magazine,
"(It was) a very personal film. It was a good ten to fifteen years ahead of its time... Kanchenjungha told the story of several groups of characters and it went back and forth. ... It's a very musical form, but it wasn't liked. The reaction was stupid. Even the reviews were not interesting. But, looking back now, I find that it is a very interesting film."He used color for the first time in this film, and that too in such a significant way! The dresses that characters wear give a dimension to their characters. Look at the combination of bright orange shari and white cardigan of Manisha and crimson old-dried-blood-stain-like colored shari and black cardigan of Anima and consider their lives, one hesitating at the conflict of youthful heart and experienced brain at the begining her life and the other on the verge of destroying her marriage after long bourne injuries. Even the cardigan colors symbolizes the clouds hovering over their minds.
Look at the nature. the situation is changing with every change in nature. When Banerjee tries hard to get an answer for his call to Manisha, mist starts falling over the sky, and finaly Manisha answers: 'I think mist will be there.' Nature and man is really complementary to each other. Finally, the closing sequence, Indranath (Chhobi Bishwas) finds the chocolate that Banerjee was trying to offer Manisha in the hands of a local beggar boy, he realizes something is wrong, and he turns back to call out for Manisha, Banerjee and others and then suddenly the mist-vail over the peak withdraws itself revealing a bright glimpse of the range for which Indrajit was craving. But now Indrajit is too preoccupied to watch that. Once Ray has told,
"The idea was to have the film starting with sunlight. Then clouds coming, then mist rising, and then mist disappearing, the cloud disappearing, and then the sun shining on the snow-peaks. There is an independent progression to Nature itself, and the story reflects this."As a matter of fact, to me, the most admired movies of Ray are 'Pather Panchali' and 'Kanchenjungha'. Though for most of the viewers 'Charulata' is on that list! There is nothing new to say about 'Pather Panchali'. How can a man make his first movie like this? One of my professors had once told me that it is this movie, 'Pather Panchali' that has eclipsed all his movies. No other movie can stand in front of it! And at the same time its very painful and difficult to watch 'Pather Panchali' second time or further. He was correct. No other movie can compete with it. And whenever I see it I know that now I'll have to go through a unbearable difficult journey of tears.
Regarding Kanchenjungha, I like it because of its wonderful imagery, its wonderful pace, its wonderful depth, its wonderful harmony of colors both in nature and in mankind.
Like all other Ray-movies, this one is also well acted, but I feel the show was stolen by Ashok (Arun Mukhopadhyay). When he refuses Indranath's job offer or when he lastly parts from Manisha, ahh, splendid.