Kapurush O Mahapurush

Satyajit Ray’s double story movie “Kapurush O Mahapurush” (1965). Its basically two stories in one movie, but not a deep connection between the two. In the first Kapurush (meaning Coward), starring Soumitra Chatterjee and Madhabi Mukherjee in the main roles, Amit Roy (Soumitra) is on the way somewhere when his car breaks down in a small village and the repairs will take a couple of days at least next day being Sunday. In the same workshop Bimal Gupta (Haradhan Banerjee) overhears the conversation and offers to take him to his bungalow for the night. He is a tea plantation owner. Amit gets the shock of his life when he reaches Gupta’s house to discover his wife Karuna (Madhabi Mukherjee) was the one whom he had loved when he was young and that did not fructify, because he did not get the guts to take action at the appropriate time, when Karuna’s family was taking her to Patna. Bimal Gupta leads a lonely life of work, and drinks at home with nobody to socialise with for miles around. Strict heirarchical rules of plantation life established by the British but still being followed to the present day, ensures that he cannot mingle with his employees who are lower to him in rank. Amit asks for sleeping pills for the night to stay and he gets it from Karuna. Amit probably thinks that Karuna does not love her husband and asks her to leave him and come along with him. He says your husband is a drunkard, he must be beating you also. Amit asks her to meet him at the railway station where he is now taking a train to depart. Karuna does come to the railway station, but only to ask for the sleeping pills which Amit had mistakenly taken along with him. But she goes back. That says a lot. Soumitra Chatterjee has done a brilliant role as the tortured young man who has lost his love due to his cowardice and is desperate to win it back. Madhabi Mukherjee is beautiful and dignified in her role as Karuna.

The second story Mahapurush (the Holy Man) starts in a railway station. The last scene of Kapurush is in the railway station and the first scene of Mahapurush is in the railway station. A holy man is throwing flowers at his devotees while the railway inspector is desperate to start the train. The holy man Birinchi Baba (Charuprakash Ghosh) then settles down inside the compartment only for an old man to fall at his feet and narrate his woes to the baba. The baba does some fraudulent miracles like making the sun rise and thus plonks himself and his assistant to the old man’s house. The old man has a daughter Gitali Roy who he is desperate to get married off. Meanwhile scene shifts to a room where a young man Satya (Satindra Bhattacharya) rushes in complaining of the holy baba and his love for Buchki (Gitali Roy) who it seems is going to go the saintly way. The holy baba in the meanwhile cooks up a nice cock and bull story about him meeting with Jesus Christ, Buddha, Manu, Shiva, Vishnu etc. and the gullible devotees including some rich ones and learned ones. The four of them cook up a plot to expose the baba and drive them away for Satya to win his love by rescuing Buchki from the clutches of the baba.

The central theme in both the movies is the young man – one is a coward, the other one daring to go for the jugular. In Kapurush, Gupta is intoxicated literally after work hours, in Mahapurush, gullible people are intoxicated by religion. In Kapurush, the last scene is that of the train entering the railway station. In Mahapurush, the first scene is that of the train about to leave the station. Mahapurush is a parody on the holy men fooling innocent people through their bullshit talk. In Kapurush, Karuna asks to be led which Amit refuses. In Mahapurush, Buchki is sceptical but Satya just grabs her while the fire breaks out in their house. So there you are, master director Satyajit Ray at work with his brilliant direction. Not much acting worth talking about in Mahapurush whilst Kapurush sees some splendid acting by Soumitra and Madhabi. The script that i saw was of poor quality in youtube.

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