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3 December 2023: Madhumati


Bimal Roy, 1958, 179 min

Introduced by Ranjit S. Ruprai and followed by discussion with film critic Phuong Le

Madhumati was released in India in 1958 and became the highest-grossing Indian film of the year and one of the most influential Indian films of all time. Yet, in Bimal Roy’s award-winning career as a social realist filmmaker, Madhumati is often considered uncharacteristically commercial with its reincarnation love story set in an eerie mansion and misty hillside forests. Within this supernatural setting, however, are brutal feudal inequities and the exploitation of natural resources and indigenous people.  

Bimal Roy Productions was born in a double-decker bus, when Roy and his colleagues were returning home inspired by a screening of Rashomon at the Eros Cinema in Mumbai. It was the spirit of camaraderie between the key members of Bimal Roy Productions that created an ideal environment for creative collaboration. The extra layers within this iconic film are no doubt due to Roy’s collaboration with these greats of Indian cinema: music by Salil Chowdhury; lyrics by Shailendra; editing by Hrishikesh Mukherjee; story by Ritwik Ghatak; and dialogues by Rajinder Singh Bedi.

Showing as part of Supakino's Take Two: Marianne de ma jeunesse / Madhumati