Company Limited (Seemabaddha)


company-limited-seemabaddha-feb-3rdRay uses his characteristic economy of dialogue but richness of composition, as university graduate Shyamalendu, marketing manager for a British owned firm selling fans, enjoys a comfortable middle-class life with his wife and son. Then his lower class sister-in-law arrives and shakes up his complacency and a faulty consignment of fans proves to be the ultimate test of his integrity. “a finely judged satire about the gradual compromise that is the price of ambition … It’s basically an old-fashioned film, but none the worse for that” – Chris Petit, Time Out. (Cert U)
Dir: Satiyajit Ray 113 mins India 1971

Programme Notes

3rd February 2011

India 1971 110 minutes Cert PG

Shyamalendu, formerly an English teacher, works as an export manager for a company in Calcutta with British connections. He’s very ambitious and willing to compete for advancement. Tutal, his wife’s younger sister , arrives for a visit and Shyamalendu proudly shows her the features of his successful life – the races, the country club and so on. She becomes his confidant and he mentions a serious problem at work and she suggests a successful, if dishonest, solution.

Satyajit Ray (1921 – 1992) directed some 37 films between 1955 and 1992 of which seven have been shown at ABCD including the famous Apu trilogy, with which he began his filmmaking career. Previously he had worked as a “junior visualiser” for a British run advertising agency. There was a big pay differential between Indian and British employees with “palpable tension” (according to Wikipedia) between the two groups.

Shyamalendu Chatterjee – Barun Chanda
Dolan – Parumita Chowdhury
Tutul – Sharmila Tagore
Sir Baren Roy – Harindranath Chattopadhyay

Director – Satyajit Ray
Screenplay – Satyajit Ray based on novel by Manisankar ‘Sankar’ Mukherjee
Cinematography – Soumendu Roy
Editor – Dulal Dutta
Original Music – Satyajit Ray

” … Company Limited is an impeccable ideological tract detailing the exact price in human dignity and decency to be paid for a stake in the corridors of power. … The message is all the better and richer for being conveyed obliquely: in this case through the quizzical mirror of Sharmila Tagore’s face, which faithfully reflects, without comment, the vanity of the world she sees. … [She] … is not merely a reflector, but a moral force … . [In] adapting himself to the Western ways of Company Ltd‘ [Shyamalendu] has betrayed his Indianness.” – Tom Milne in Monthly Film Bulletin, March 1974.

“Sometimes I can understand why some people find certain things slow … Maybe the cutting is not as it might have been, but most of the time I think slowness is a matter of whether you’re involved … We use certain visual symbols with which the West is not familiar which mean something to a Bengali or Indian audience but don’t mean anything to a Western audience. So you may have a pocket of boredom. This happens very often, actually.” Ray, interviewed by Lindsay Anderson at the NFT in 1969.


“Satyajit Ray – the maestro!”

“Wonderful film – beautifully observed.”

“Unexpected for a Ray film but very subtle and beautifully acted.”

“Very enjoyable and well observed.”

“In the 70s there was a cliché ‘The personal is political’. What a skilful demonstration!”

“Engaging characters – Mad Men Indian-style. Some wonderfully subtle moments when a [particular] mood was caught.”

“Very atmospheric throughout”

“Great build-up of tension, use of circles oblongs and even one fade. Lovely close-ups of handshakes. Pity there were more professional coughers than at the Wigmore Hall!”

“I had reservations about the film at first but I ended up a big fan [of it]. PS: This week’s short wasn’t very memorable!”

“Well worth seeing, if a bit slow at times. Were there shades of Lady Macbeth in Tutul, at the end? I was left wondering how, with the stoppage, they [were able] to make more properly painted fans!”

“Too subtle for me. How would closing the factory help? If they weren’t working, they couldn’t fix the fans so they wouldn’t gain anything.”

“A well made and interesting film, with parallels to I’m Alright Jack, made a few years earlier [1959].”

“There’s a message here somewhere – I’m alright Jack!”

“Reminded me of the play about betrayal – Pinter? – a study of the point at which the plot could go one way or the other. A moral tale.”

“A heavy morality tale but I wasn’t sure what the moral was.”

“Shame on him!”

“The past is a foreign country – they do things slowly there. The moral did not need emphasising.”


“A simple but rather juvenile story”

“Remarkably heavy-handed – and this from a Ray fan!”

“The film may not have aged well but it had enough moments in it to make the lengthy runtime tolerable.”

“Took a very long time for anything to happen – are you sure the film was playing at the right speed? Felt much longer than 110mins. The main character was so dull and dislikeable (that) I couldn’t bring myself to care whether he failed or succeeded.”

“A thin story, slowly told”

“I’m lost for words”



“Was it just me or did the main character remind you of Jeff Goldblum and the chap with the splinters [toothpicks] of Danny de Vito?”


A:12, B:17, C:5, D:5, E:3 to give 68%