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TWO DAUGHTERS

India, 1961 (MIFF 1962)

Director: Satyajit Ray

Made to celebrate the centenary of Rabindranath Tagore, "Two Daughters" is based on a duo of his short stories, "The Postmaster and "Samapti". The director, Satyajit Ray, has described them as divertimenti to be enjoyed in the spirit of a festival. They are comedies, but, as in all good comedies, the richness of the humour depends on serious preoccupations.

In the first tale Mr. Nanda, a Calcutta poet paying his way as a postmaster, is transferred to an outback depot. Jungle life quickly wears him down. His nerves are shattered and he resigns from the postal service to return to Calcutta; but in doing so he fails a little servant-girl whom he has been teaching. This orphan stands for all the underprivileged in their hopeless bravery, which is beautifully caught in the final scene, as Nanda slinks away from the depot. The girl passes him, and as he offers her a rupee she proudly ignores him . . .

In "Samapti", a self-centred young law student arrives home for the holidays. His mother wants him to marry, and has chosen a girl; but he tells her that he is attracted to Puglee, a tomboy. The mother is horrified. Puglee, she cries out, is a shrew, wild, impossible . . . The marriage, nevertheless, is arranged. The girl does not want to marry but, due to conventions, she must. Eventually though, it is all too much for her, and on her wedding night she rebels. When the mother discovers that the marriage hasn't been consummated, a scandal of absurd proportions breaks out—she wails and slaps the girl, neighbours are delightfully shocked, and the ineffectual young man slips sadly into the garden . . .

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