Mahanagar (The Big City, 1963)

RETROSPECTIVE SCREENING FILM REVIEW || Director/Writer Satyajit Ray (based on the short story “Abataranika” by Narendranath Mitra) | Cinematographer Subrata Mitra | Starring Madhabi Mukherjee, Anil Chatterjee | Length 135 minutes | Seen at BFI Southbank (NFT1), London, Tuesday 20 August 2013 || My Rating 4 stars excellent

© Edward Harrison

If I had a personal credo when it comes to filmgoing — and I’m not sure I do, but I’ll have a bash at one now — it would be to keep yourself open to new things. Not new as in the most recent, but new as in stuff that challenges you, that presents visions of the world from perspectives you’d not seen before. I was recently followed by a blog called Adventures in the 8th Dimension, whose writer is dedicated to watching all the films in the 1,001 Movies to Watch Before You Die book, which is exactly the kind of online project I love. Now, of the book itself (and those of its ilk), there are plenty of things you could criticise (I personally hate the … Before You Die name of this series), though I have nothing at all against canons, best-ofs or curated lists of this kind, provided the source is very clear about the factors and biases that go towards creating that list. But more than that, I really appreciate the desire to use such a list as a means of engaging with a history and variety of filmmaking that extends far beyond the usual comfortable classics (your typical IMDb highest-rated) to take in examples from all the world’s nations and genres.

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