PRATIDWANDI / THE ADVERSARY (Dir. Satyajit Ray, 1972, India) – Chronicles of Dissent

Figure 1 – 4. The revolutionary impulse nurtured by Naxalite sentiments – Siddhartha’s imagination of dissent.

Figure 5 – 16. Passions and repressions coalesce into an extended dream sequence that recalls the cinema of Bergman and Fellini.

Figure 17 – 19. The closing shots – the call of the bird and the sounds of a funeral procession.

6 thoughts on “PRATIDWANDI / THE ADVERSARY (Dir. Satyajit Ray, 1972, India) – Chronicles of Dissent

  1. Amazing series of screencaps from this underrated Satyajit Ray gem. Your choice of images has made me yearn to watch this film, in particular, and his Calcutta trilogy, in general, once again. The film contained a lot of latent anger & was also one of Ray's most politically provocative traits – features that made it similar to a Mrinal Sen movie.

    If one were to ask me to name one scene that defined this film, it would have to be the interview scene where Sidhhartha comments that the Vietnam War was, in his opinion, a far more important event than man's landing on moon. People might call it an overt display of leftism, but the reason he gave for his provocative reply did make a lot of sense.


  2. JAFB; It's interesting that you have decided to label this as a Ghatak film from the images as it is one of Ray's few works which is closer to the realist aesthetic of Ghatak.

    SHUBHAJIT; The parallel you draw with Sen seems appropriate as you point out the overt politics of the film. As for the interview scene, that's a classic scene and does seem to capture the anti establishment sentiment of Siddhartha. Pratidwandi ties into the area of Naxalite cinema which I am currently researching – this is reflected in the political activism witnessed in the brother of Siddhartha. I know from previous comments left on the Calcutta 71 post that Sen was much more engaged with the CPI(M) ideology whilst politically Ghatak was closer to the Naxalite movement. Going back to Pratidwandi, don't you think it is Ray's most Godardian film? Also, any film suggestions for examples of Naxalite cinema would be useful. Ta.


  3. Well, Ghatak was a staunch Marxist like Sen, but I'm not really sure if he was close to the Naxalite movement. Some of Mrinal Sen's movies have brilliantly touched upon the Naxalite movement. His Padatik (The Foot Soldier) was wholly about a Naxalite, though the Naxal movement per se is never directly shown. Similarly his Interview, which also happens to be my favourite Mrinal Sen film, is an irreverent (even, Godardian) take on how the seeds of Naxalism gets sown into an educated middle-class guy desirous of securing a job in a capitalistic firm. Sometime back I read a brilliant book called Kaalbela where a love story is told with the Naxal movement at its backdrop. Goutam Ghose turned that into a movie. Though I haven't seen it, the feedback about it has been positive. In fact speaking of Godardian irreverence (the kind visible in the first half of his career), try out Mrinal Sen's Chalchitra (The Kaleidoscope), i.e. if you already haven't. Pratidwandi – Godardian? Well, to be honest, it never struck me that way.


  4. Hey Omar, its my favourite Ray film. Anyone who has come close to being desparate for a job can relate to it. And how it captures that the education, we get often has nothing to do with the job we end up getting. The scene where he sees a hot woman on road and the voiceover starts and we are taken to his college days where a professor is talking about a woman's breast is awesome juxtaposition of reality and subconscious mind….And yeah the starting scene where he says about Vietnam..will be tough to find a scene which so subtely yet so comprehensively establishes a character…Karan


Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s