Company Limited

Company Limited


Reviewed by: James Benefield

Reading the synopsis of The Company Limited, you'd be in no doubt why it hasn't received much attention from 'Western' audiences. A story of a 30-something who has spent the ten years since university climbing his way to the top of a fan company, only to be embroiled in some large-scale unrest at his factory as he is about the achieve a vital promotion, sounds pretty dry. And possibly inaccessible, when placed in the context of early 1970s India.

Yet, due to the touch of master filmmaker Satyajit Ray, it's nigh-on unmissable. It's key strength is its uncontrived, almost documentary-style portrayal of its characters. Ray doesn't make a distinction between the work and personal life of his main character Shyamalendu Chatterjee (played with unshowy sincerity by Barun Chanda), in as much as equal amounts of screen time are given to each. More precisely, it's all here: work, rest and play.

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Ray also manages to pack in a wealth of social detail. One of the film's main strands involves a visit by Chatterjee's sister-in-law. She arrives from the country and is astounded at the luxuries of middle class city life (at everything from the couple's habit of betting at the races, to the apartment's plumbing system). The couple note that ten years previously, some of this would not be possible. As well as giving an insight into the rapidly changing nature of Indian society after their independence, it also begs the question of why the sister-in-law hasn't visited recently.

As the film progresses, Ray works towards a more moral message. Work and family do come into conflict, and in some ways the film is about that. In other ways, the message concerns what happens when people reach the higher echelons of a profession. But Ray has taken his time in coming to the point. It's not a film necessarily about the message. It's a film about each moment that passes.

Company Limited is a hugely rewarding experience. It's a piece that will reward on multiple viewings. For such a simple plot, there is surprising richness here. Ignore the synopsis; from a director so lauded, and responsible for the sublime Apu Trilogy, it couldn't have been less than excellent.

Reviewed on: 06 Mar 2010
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Acidic middle-class drama set in Calcutta.
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Director: Satyajit Ray

Writer: Manisankar 'Sankar' Mukherjee, Satyajit Ray

Starring: Barun Chanda, Parumita Chowdhury, Sharmila Tagore

Year: 1971

Runtime: 110 minutes

BBFC: PG - Parental Guidance

Country: India


EIFF 2009

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