The Stranger (Agantuk)

Film Review by Michael Gillespie | 02 Feb 2010
  • The Stranger
Film title: The Stranger (Agantuk)
Director: Satyajit Ray
Starring: Utpal Dutt, Mamata Shankar, Dipankar Dey
Release date: 15 Feb
Certificate: U

From 1991, Satyajit Ray directed this, his final film, from inside an oxygen tent. It doesn’t show. Based on one of his own short stories, it may not be Ray’s best, but it is one of his most accessible and immediately satisfying. Anila (Shankar, niece of Ravi) is one half of an upwardly mobile Bengali couple who find their hospitable nature put to the test when her estranged uncle Manomohan (Dutt) reappears after 35 years. Charming and educated, he is met with suspicion, but tales of his travels are soon winning over his great nephew and family friends. He may not be all that he seems, but he will make an insurmountable impact on everyone’s lives. With endless discussions of art, class, family and the divisions between east and west, this is vintage Ray, seemingly slight and theatrical but glowing with warmth, wit and compassion. The precise camera moves and editing make The Stranger (Agantuk) a fitting cinematic swansong.[Michael Gillespie]