Charulata is based on a novel by Rabindranath Tagore. The setting is Calcutta in 1880, where the upper-class Bengali milieu, though strongly rooted in tradition, is nourished by English liberal ideals. Evidence of these ideals is to be heard in the litanies to Macaulay, Gladstone and Shakespeare, and the sprinkling of English words, which colour the film. Charulata is the story of a girl married to the editor-publisher of an English language newspaper, who neglects her for politics. When his sensitive, more literary-minded cousin Amal arrives, Charulata turns to him for understanding.
Hailed as Ray's best film since the A pit Trilogy, Charulata is certainly his most moving and tender. Its main concerns are with the subtleties and near-tragedies of the marriage relationship. "Life is a rhythm," says Amal during the film, ". . . like the waves of the sea, up and down." It is this inherent rhythm of human life that Ray is such a master at registering on film.
President's Gold Medal, India; Silver Bear for Direction, O.C.I.C. Prize, Berlin Festival.