(aka 'Abhijan" or "Abhijaan" or "The Expedition')
Abhijan was Satyajit
Ray's most popular film in Bengal: a "conscious" effort to communicate with a
wider audience. The project was originally conceived by his friends and Ray
stepped in when they panicked at the prospect of directing. Ray's mastery turned
a starkly conventional plot into a subtly nuanced story which topped the Bengali
box office for months.
Set on the Bihar-Bengal border, where Marwari businessmen — a powerful Hindi-dialect community of entrepreneurs much disliked throughout India — and Rajputs of warrior caste (from Rajasthan) have both settled. The central character of Narsingh (Soumitra Chatterjee), is a disillusioned, frequently drunken Rajput reduced in status to an ill-educated taxi driver. Proud and hot-tempered, with a passion for his 1930s Chrysler, Narsingh is offered work transporting tins of ghee for Sukhanram, a shady merchant, and finds himself drawn against his better judgement into trafficking opium. Having failed in everything honest, he has to decide whether or not he will engage in criminal activity to make money.
Starring Waheeda Rehman — one of the greatest stars of 'Bollywood' cinema — as Gulabi, a prostitute; Rabi Ghosh as Rama, Narsingh's right-hand man; and Ruma Guha Thakurata as Neeli, Abhijan was honoured with the National Award of India in 1962.
Theatrical Release: 1962 - India
DVD Review: Eureka MoC # 27- Region 0 - NTSC
|DVD Box Cover||
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|Distribution||Eureka Video - Masters of Cinema # 27 - Region 0 - NTSC|
Average Bitrate: 6.55 mb/s
NTSC 720x480 29.97 f/s
NOTE: The Vertical axis represents the bits transferred per second. The Horizontal is the time in minutes.
|Audio||Bengali (Dolby Digital 2.0)|
interview with Professor Dilip Basu, director of the Ray FASC (20 mins)
The transfer has some expected blemishes but I was very pleased at the overall consistency. The film was restored by the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences' Academy Film Archive and I applaud Eureka for bringing this Ray gem to the light of DVD. There are some very infrequent damage marks, mostly in the beginning, but the image and audio are more than acceptable. This is a progressive transfer - blacks may have been slightly boosted but overall contrast is very even. If you prepare yourself that this will not be a pristine image, you won't be at all disappointed. Subtitles are excellent with a very few absentee gaps. The 2 feature extras on the disc are both fabulous inclusions by the MoC boys - wonderfully informative and entertaining.
I feel so fortunate to have seen this film - I was immediately impressed after my first viewing two weeks ago - and re-watched it again recently. I personally, consider this a wonderfully rare find in the best condition we are likely to see the film anytime soon. Surely this is a must-own DVD. Masters of Cinema continue their heroic work!