Satyajit Ray’s 1963 classic ‘Mahanagar’, a sensitive portrayal of a housewife who challenges her traditionalist family by getting a job, has been digitally restored and is set to re-release after 50 years.
The film, starring Madhabi Mukherjee in the lead, charts the emerging class of women who became bread earners to support life in a big city despite facing resistance from the traditional structure.
The Kolkata-set movie is being re-released in eight cities including Delhi, Mumbai, Kolkata and Chennai on April 18 through PVR’s Director’s Rare.
‘Mahanagar’ has been restored by Kamal Bansal of RDB, whose father R D Bansal was Ray’s longtime producer.
Satyajit Ray won the Silver Bear at the 14th Berlin International Film Festival for ‘Mahanagar’ in 1964. The film also marked the debut of Jaya Bachchan.
Varsha, RD Bansal’s granddaughter, said they have restored all the six Ray films that were produced by them.
“We first thought about restoring the films in 2011. There was a Ray festival in Locarno at that time and there was a huge audience but the prints were not in a good condition, there were scratches and the colour had changed. The negatives
kept on the analogue print were in a bad shape,” Varsha told PTI.
“It was a difficult decision to take because lot of money was involved but we felt we had a responsibility towards Ray’s fans and cine-lovers. The restoration work on each film cost around Rs 20 lakh,” she added.
Varsha is now looking at re-marketing the films post restoration. “We started the process in 2012 with about 300 technicians on all the six films. It is a frame by frame restoration and any mark or tear was corrected manually. ‘Mahanagar’ will release first followed by ‘Charulata’, ‘Nayak’, Kapurush’,
‘Mahapurush’ and ‘Jai Baba Felunath’.
“We contacted many multiplexes but they were not giving us good slots. Finally, PVR’s Director’s Rare got involved. They are giving us three to four theatres per city and good show timings,” Varsha said.
Sanjeev Kumar Bijli, JMD, PVR Limited, said they decided to release the classic as it would give Ray’s audiences a rare access to the film on the big screen.
RDB has already tied up with Criterian, an American company who have come out with the DVD and Blu-ray, while Artificial Eye in the UK is also involved.
‘Mahanagar’ was screened in BFI London Film Festival on its 50th anniversary.