(Last Updated on : 10/04/2014)
Agantuk is Satyajit Ray film and it was produced by National Film Development Corporation of India (NFDC). Music in the film has been provided by the director himself. Agantuk, a Bengali movie is based on a short story, Atithi, which Satyajit Ray has written earlier. The film stars Utpal Dutt, Mamata Shankar, Deepankar De, Rabi Ghosh, Subrata Chatterjee, Dhritiman Chatterjee, Bikram Bannerjee and others.
The central character in Agantuk is Manomohan Mitra (Utpal Dutt). Anila Bose (Mamata Shankar) receives a letter from a man who claims to be her uncle. The man has been thought to be dead by the family and both Anila and her husband, Sudhindra Bose (Deepankar De) are uncomfortable with the news of his arrival. They are doubtful whether at all he is the same person he claims to be. This uncle had disappeared 35 years ago and he is a complete stranger to Anila and her husband. In the letter he has expressed his desire to spend some time with them.
As the man arrives is revealed that he is well travelled and well informed. He has travelled throughout the world and visited Europe and USA. He has stayed with the Native Americans and wrote a book on them, 'An Indian Among Indians'. His interest in the tribal culture has also led him to South America and then to the Aborigines in Australia.
The family, however, especially Sudhindra Bose, is highly suspicious of the man. He suspects that the so-called uncle is an impostor who has arrived to take away the family property. To find out the truth a number of people are called to test the uncle. But there is one person in the family who accepts Manomohan Mitra whole heartedly and that is Anila's little son. Ray shows the innocence of the child in his unquestioned acceptance of an unfamiliar person. The adult mind is adulterated as a result it is always suspicious.
Through Agantuk Ray questions the urban values and its progress. The tranquility that Manomohan Mitra derives in the company of the tribes is unavailable in the city life. The scene where he is questioned by Prithwish Sen Gupta (Dhritiman Chatterjee) about cannibalism is fabulous. Quite lucidly the conversations of the two men bring out the destructive effects of the urban civilisation.
Slowly Anila accepts the man as her uncle. She grows fond of him but Sudhindra is not yet ready. Getting an inkling about the distrust that Subindra shows Manmohan leaves one fine day without informing anyone. The family is left behind embarrassed. It is then that they repent their actions. They set out to search for uncle and finally find him in a Santhal village that is near Shantiniketan. The husband and wife are repentant. They apologise to Manomohan and urge him to return but the wanderlust man is ready for his next world trip.
Agantuk beautifully captures the hypocrisies that lie beneath the veneer of sophistication. Through the erudite Manomohan Mitra Ray puts forward his own arguments and concern about the modern society, which has walked far away from the human values. The uncle finds solace amongst the tribes. His beliefs reiterate Ray's beliefs in the tribal cultures and their lives. It is one of the most humanist and compassionate films that deal with modernity and civilization, tribal culture and westernisation and obligation and compassion. Agantuk is considered by some as one of Ray's finest films after Pather Panchali.
It is needless to say that the performances in Agantuk are outstanding. As is the case with Satyajit Ray films there is no melodrama. Utpal Dutta perfectly suits the role of a wandering intellectual. As the hypocrite urban couple Mamata Shankar and Deepankar De do absolute justice to their roles.
Agantuk won the following awards:-
National Film Award for Best Film, 1992
National Film Award for Best Directing, 1992
FIPRESCI Award, Venice, 1991
Best Film, New Delhi, 1991
Best Director, New Delhi, 1991