The Stranger

Dilip Basu is research professor of humanities and founding director of the Satyajit Ray Film and Study Center at UC Santa Cruz

(Agantuk, a.k.a. The Visitor). A comfortable Calcutta couple is visited by a seemingly long-lost uncle in Ray's last film, a comedy of manners, gentle parable of greed, and “an extraordinary summing up of so much of Ray's worldview” (Film Society of Lincoln Center). Anila's Uncle Manomohan was the family black sheep who went overseas in 1955 and was never heard from again; now he's shown up on her family's doorstep, and her husband Sudhindra is none too amused. Seeming genuine but with a strange, almost mystical air, the uncle ingratiates himself into the household, and soon challenges their notions of hospitality, culture, and civilization. “Its style and its story are based on the principle that knowledge of people can be acquired only gradually and tentatively,” noted The New Yorker, “by means of a patient accumulation of intimate experience.”

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