The Music Room
The greatest filmmakers can capture the essence of time and place. ‘The Music Room’, directed by Satyajit Ray and based on a short story by Tarasankar Bandyopadhyay, is so expressive that it transports you to that era in India. While this film was received poorly at the time of release in India, it did help propel Ray to international acclaim. ‘The Music Room’ is about a zamindar who lives a decadent life. He is consumed by his passion – music to quite an extent and spends his wealth and time on organizing concerts for the locals. His stature in the society is of importance to him, more so than his duties as zamindar and familial responsibilities.
The zamindar’s music room is the centerpiece of the film. This is where the zamindar’s passion and pride intertwine. The classical singing and dancing are rare occurrences in Indian films. The music, composed by Vilayat Khan, is essential to the character, hence integral to the film. On that note I must say the musical scenes are enchanting. The zamindar’s passion for music and kindness are clearly positive characteristics. On the other hand, there is his pride and ego. Part of his self-satisfaction comes from the fame of being able to organize the best concerts for the people around and then there is a sense of upholding his family name lent to him by his aristocratic predecessors. Ray’s camerawork is incredibly graceful, slow pans and zooms capture so much of the character’s conflicts delicately at the same time the feeling of being in the music room. At the core, it might be a simple tale of how pride leads to self-destruction, but Ray does not portray it through a one-dimensional character and confidently elevates the narrative to a cinematic experience which is hard to summarize in words.
If you are not aware of Satyajit Ray, keep in mind, this is no Bollywood, industry produced melodrama. If you are genuinely interested, check this out as a token of respect on Ray’s birthday. It is a treat to the eyes and soul.
Disclaimer: The above review solely illustrates the views of the writer.