Shyamal is an amiable, self-satisfied young man, sales manager of a large electrical company, with a modern flat, a nice wife, a lively social life and hopes of a becoming a director some day soon. When his wife’s sister visits from the country he’s pleased and proud to show her the good life, and when a crisis at the factory threatens a large export order he acts decisively, ensuring his seat on the board. He’s a winner – but what has he lost? A deceptively simple film, with the acute observation and gentle humour typical of Satyajit Ray.
India 1971, 112 minutes
Shyamal is a modern, sophisticated, successful young man. After briefly following in his father’s footsteps as a teacher, he leaves for the big city and a job in industry. He’s now sales manager of an electrical appliance manufacturers with large export interests, and has hopes of a seat on the board. He’s married to Dolan, and lives in a smart company flat in Calcutta. Their son, in keeping with Anglo-Indian high society mores, goes to public school. When Dolan’s sister Tutul visits Shyamal is pleased to show her the delights of city life: the cocktail parties, the country club (formerly for Europeans Only) and the race meetings. She’s apparently enchanted with them – why wouldn’t she be?
Satyajit Ray has been compared with Chekhov for the way he explores deep questions through apparently slight stories of everyday life, and for the feeling of intangible loss felt by his characters or perceived by the audience. Shyamal has achieved material success, but at a price. He’s distanced from his parents no less than from his exiled son and, by espousing western values (and why do developing countries always adopt the worst aspects of western culture?) is in danger of losing his Indian identity. We see his life largely through Tutul’s eyes: she’s a country girl, inexperienced but no fool, and while she enjoys the trappings of his success she’s not seduced by them. When Shyamal averts a crisis in the company by distinctly underhand methods she congratulates him on his ensuing promotion but quietly withdraws from their lives.
Like most of Ray’s films, Company Limited is both Indian and universal, about People Like Us getting along in a far from ideal world, not even noticing the compromises they make and the loss of self these compromises lead to. It’s deceptively simple, multi-layered piece, moral without being judgemental, making its points obliquely and with Ray’s gentle humour.
Shyamal – Barun Chanda
Dolan – Parumita Chowdhary
Tutul – Sharmila Tagore
Director, Screenplay, Music – Satyajit Ray
Photography – Soumendu Roy
- A nice study in corruption – beautifully observed. FAN-tastic symbolism.
- A clear plot & convincing footage about the Raj. A bit slow in places.
- Pedestrian, in Ray’s manner, but totally gripping – three cheers for Black & White photography
- I enjoyed the even pace of the direction (of the film).
- As true as ever but Ray seemed slower & plainer than usual.
- Very slow moving; almost tedious.
- Too slow & evenly paced. The new (company) director will have a hard time with all those enemies…
- Did their parents ever leave the bedroom ??
- What this film needed was a great quantity of tigers & elephants.
- FAWLTY FANS with Vindaloo & golf…