The Stanford Theatre

Satyajit Ray

Nine Fims in Three Weeks

For the next three weeks we present nine films directed by India's greatest filmmaker, Satyajit Ray.

Satyajit Ray made all his films in Bengal, but audiences around the world have always found that Ray's films have a deep truth and universal humanity. With his sympathetic understanding of human nature and his poetic sensibility, Satyajit Ray uses the unique language of the cinema with a technical mastery and natural instinct that reminds one of Mozart.

Satyajit Ray was born in Calcutta in 1921 to a family with a distinguished history in arts and letters. After college, he studied painting with Rabindranath Tagore for two years, and then worked for a decade as art director in a British-owned advertising firm.

Encouraged by Jean Renoir, who was in India shooting The River, Ray made his first film, Pather Panchali, in 1955. He was immediately recognized as a major film artist.

Ray's humanist values have made his films universally appealing. Working with simple tools, he fashioned tales, both visual and literary, that were straightforward in presentation but nonetheless richly complex in their capacity to suggest levels of meaning and interpretation. He wrote his own screenplays, often based on his own stories. Since 1962, he composed the music for all his films.

The Stanford Theatre and Packard Foundations have supported the preservation of two Satyajit Ray films (Mahanagar and Devi). We are glad to present these films in our own theatre. We are committed to the preservation of additional Satyajit Ray films in the future.

To encourage you to see all the films in the festival, a single (non-transferable) festival pass is available for $20.00. Otherwise, tickets for the triple features are $7.00 for adults, $5.00 for seniors (65 and over), and $5.00 for those under 18.

Prints courtesy of the Academy Film Archive. All films are in Bengali with English subtitles.

The Stanford Theatre is dedicated to bringing back the movie-going experience of Hollywood's Golden Age. It is one of the few places where you can still watch movies on a big screen projected the way they were intended — in 35mm prints. Great classic films were not made to be watched on a video screen in your living room. They depend on a larger-than-life image, and the shared reactions of a real audience.

The Stanford Theatre first opened in June of 1925. For decades nearly every important Hollywood picture played there on its first release. The people of Palo Alto saw them all for the very first time in this theatre.

In 1987 the Packard Foundation bought the theatre and restored it to its original condition. It quickly became America's most popular classic movie house. More people saw Casablanca there on its 50th anniverary in 1992 than at any other theatre in America.

The non-profit Stanford Theatre Foundation is dedicated to the preservation and public exhibition of films from the Golden Age of Hollywood. This means classic movies in a classic movie palace, complete with Wurlitzer organ rising from the orchestra pit every night before and after the 7:30 show, or providing the accompaniment to “silent” films.

Note: This is an unofficial posting of the Stanford Theatre schedules, from published information. This site is in no way connected with the Stanford Theatre nor the Stanford Theatre Foundation. Please check out the official site at in case this schedule isn't quite up-to-date! Programs are subject to change. For information, call (650) 324-3700.

(Showtimes in parentheses are for the Saturday and Sunday screenings.)

December 25 – January 10: closed
January 11 – 13:
The Apu Trilogy (1955-1959)

These three films follow the life of a little boy named Apu, born in a tiny village in Bengal, through his youth, education and unexpected marriage.

"Ray sees that life itself is good no matter how bad it is. It is difficult to discuss art which is an affirmation of life, without fear of becoming maudlin. But is there any other kind of art on screen or elsewhere?" Pauline Kael

Pather Panchali [Song of the Little Road] (1955) 5:25

d/w Satyajit Ray, based on the novel by Bibhitibhushan Banerjee. ph Subrata Mitra. m Ravi Shankar. 115 min.

Kanu Banerjee (Harihar), Karuna Banerjee (Sarbajaya), Subir Banerjee (Apu), Uma Das Gupta (Durga), Tulsa Chakravarty (Schoolmaster), Chunibala Devi (Indir).

In a remote village in Bengal, around 1919, a family faces material and financial hardships. The father's work often keeps him away from home, and the mother must care for their daughter Durga and the elderly aunt Indir.

When their son Apu is born, daily life is enriched by scenes of happiness, punctuated by dramatic incidents. Eventually tragedy forces the family to leave the village in search of a new life in Benares.

"It is a powerful, unforgettable experience to watch characters whose lives are so different from our own, but whose concerns are ultimately universal." Baseline Movie Guide

"Beautiful, sometimes funny, and full of love, it brought a new vision of India to the screen." Pauline Kael

first played at the Stanford Theatre May 8, 1999; last played Feb 2009

Aparajito [The Unvanquished] (1956) 7:30

d/w Satyajit Ray, based on the novel by Bibhutibhushan Banerjee. ph Subrata Mitra. m Ravi Shankar. 113 min.

Kanu Banerjee (Harihar), Karuna Banerjee (Sarbajaya), Smaran Ghosal (adolescent Apu), Pinaki Sengupta (very young Apu).

The family is now living in Benares, where the father works as a priest. Upon his death, the mother decides to return with Apu to live in the country. She wants him also to become a priest, but she sacrifices so he can pursue his studies. Apu wins a scholarship and departs for Calcutta, leaving her alone. When he returns to see her, he seems bored by country life. An intricate mother-son relationship develops.

first played at the Stanford Theatre May 8, 1999; last played Feb 2009

Apur Sansar [The World of Apu] (1959) (3:30), 9:30

d/w Satyajit Ray, based on the novel Aparajito by Bibhutibhushan Banerjee. ph Subrata Mitra. m Ravi Shankar. 106 min.

Soumitra Chatterjee (Apu), Sharmila Tagore (Aparna), Alok Chakravarty (Kajal), Swapan Mukherjee (Pulu).

Apu has to give up his studies and looks for work, but without success. He is writing a novel based on his life. His friend Pulu, who is from a well-to-do background, proposes a stay in the country with his family. Obliged to attend a wedding, Apu unexpectedly becomes the husband to save the family honor.

The scenes with his young bride Aparna, played by Sharmila Tagore, are of exquisite beauty.

first played at the Stanford Theatre May 8, 1999; last played Feb 2009

January 14 – 17: closed
January 22 – 24:
Teen Kanya [Three Daughters] (1961) 4:25

d/w/m Satyajit Ray, based on short stories by Rabindranath Tagore. ph Soumendu Roy. 112 min.

This is a trilogy, with three separate short films:

The Postmaster

Anil Chatterjee (Nandalal), Chandana Banerjee (Ratan).

Newly arrived from Calcutta, Nandalal takes a position as the postmaster of a tiny rural village in Bengal. He has for his servant Ratan, a young orphan girl. She is illiterate, but he teaches her how to read and write. When Nandalal falls ill, Ratan nurses him back to health. Nonetheless he eventually decides to return to Calcutta, unaware of how attached to him Ratan has become.

"A pure and simple small masterpiece." Pauline Kael


Soumitra Chatterjee (Amulya), Aparna Das Gupta (Mrinmoyee).

Returning from Calcutta after passing his exams, Amulya spends a few days with his mother, who has arranged for him to marry the daughter of a respectable family. He suggests a different bride, a mischievous adolescent girl whose family has lost their home. The mother finally agrees; but after a difficult wedding night, Amulya cannot face his new circumstances.


Kalil Banerjee (Phanibhusan Saha), Kanika Majumdar (Manimalika), Kumar Roy (Madhusudhan), Gobinda Chakravarty (Schoolmaster and narrator).

In this unusual ghost story, a wealthy man loses everything because of his wife's obsession with jewels..

first played at the Stanford Theatre May 12, 1999; last played Nov 2003

Charulata [The Lonely Wife] (1964) 7:30

d/w/m Satyajit Ray, based on the novel Nastanirh (The Broken Nest) by Rabindranath Tagore. ph Subrata Mitra. 117 min.

Madhabi Mukherjee (Charulata), Soumitra Chatterjee (Amal), Sailen Mukherjee (Bhupati), Syamal Ghosal (Umapada), Gitali Roy (Mandakini), Bholanath Koyal (Braja).

The location is Calcutta, around 1880. Bhupati, who edits and publishes in his home a political newspaper called The Sentinel, is persuaded that his wife Charulata has special gifts as a writer. When his young cousin Amal comes to live with them, Bhupati asks him to encourage her cultural interests. An increasingly intimate relationship develops between Charulata and Amal: one based on complicity, friendship, writing, and eventually love.

Meanwhile, another family member embezzles the funds and destroys Bhupati's hopes for The Sentinel. All he has left is the trust he has placed in Charulata and Amal, which is now compromised.

Charulata is a work of extraordinary richness, humanity, and poetic sensibility. When pressed, Ray identified it as his very best film.

first played at the Stanford Theatre May 15, 1999; last played Dec 2010

Mahanagar [The Big City] (1963) (2:00), 9:40

d/w/m Satyajit Ray, based on the short story Abataranika by Narendranath Mitra. ph Subrata Mitra. 131 min.

Anil Chatterjee (Subrata Mazumdar), Madhabi Mukherjee (Arati Mazumdar), Jaya Badhuri (Bani), Haren Chatterjee (Priyagopal), Vicky Redwood (Edith Simmons).

An unassuming employee of a bank in Calcutta has problems providing for the needs of his family. Against established custom, his wife looks for a job. She is successful in her work and gains untraditional self-confidence, but her husband finds it hard to accept the situation. When he loses his job, however, his wife's work becomes even more essential.

A crisis develops at the office when her friend is unjustly punished by the boss. She resigns on principle but worries about the future. Her husband has gained a new respect for his wife, and they now face the future as partners: "What a big city. So many different jobs. There must be something somewhere for one of us."

This remarkable film manages to deal sympathetically with the situation of a capable and ambitious woman in a traditional society without denying the humanity of the men in her story.

"One of the very best films we have ever shown at the Stanford Theatre." David W. Packard

first played at the Stanford Theatre May 22, 1999; last played Dec 2010

January 21 – 24: closed
January 25 – 27:
Nayak [The Hero] (1966) 5:25
w/d/m Satyajit Ray. ph Subrata Mitra. R.D.B. Prod. 120 min.

Uttam Kumar (Arindan Mukherjee), Sharmila Tagore (Aditi Sen Bupta), Somen Bose (Shankar), Premangsu Bose (Biresh), Sumita Sanyal (Promila), Ranjit Sen (Mr. Bose), Bharati Devi (Manorama), Lali Chowdhury (Bulbul), Kamu Mukherjee (Pritish Sarkar), Susmita .Mukherjee (Molly).

A Bengali movie star travels by train to New Delhi to accept an acting award. The editor of a woman's magazine (Sharmila Tagore) interviews him, and he gradually realizes the truth about his life.

first played at the Stanford Theatre Oct 15, 2003; last played Oct 2003

Devi [The Goddess] (1960) 7:30

d/w Satyajit Ray, based on the short story by Prabhat Kumar Mukherjee. ph Subrata Mitra. m Ali Akbar Khan. 93 min.

Sharmila Tagore (Doyamoyee), Chhabi Biswas (Kalikinkar Roy), Soumitra Chatterjee (Umaprasad), Purnendu Mukherjee (Taraprasad), Karuna Bannerjee (Harasundari).

The action takes place in 1860 in rural Bengal. The master of the house has a revelation during a dream: his son's wife has manifested herself to him as an incarnation of the goddess Kali. Installed in the family temple, she apparently cures the sick grandchild of a poor man.

Her husband, a student at Calcutta University, finds himself dispossessed of his wife who has become a "goddess." He tries unsuccessfully to reason with his father; but her miracle cure has demonstrated to him the truth of traditional beliefs. A crowd of worshipers comes to venerate her.

"Ray's feeling for the intoxicating beauty within the disintegrating way of life of the 19th-century landowning class makes this one of the rare, honest films about decadence." Pauline Kael

"This is the most beautiful film that Ray has made... Ray is able to register such sweetness of spirit in a film, without allowing a trace of softness and looks so harshly at the destructive effects of superstition without ever mocking the roots of it." Penelope Gilliatt

first played at the Stanford Theatre May 15, 1999; last played Oct 2003

Ghare Baire [Home and the World] (1984) (2:55), 9:20
d/w/m Satyajit Ray, based on the novel by Rabindranath Tagore. ph Soumendu Roy. 140 min.

Victor Bannerjee (Nikhilesh Choudhury), Soumitra Chatterjee (Sandip Mukherjee), Swatilekha Chatterjee (Bimala Chourhury), Bimala Chatterjee (Kulada), Manoy Mitra (headmaster), Indrapramit Roy (Amulya), Gopa Aich (Nikhil's sister-in-law), Jennifer Kapoor (Miss Gilby).

A traditional wife, encouraged by her westernized and liberal husband to enter the outside world, becomes enthralled by a family friend, the charismatic but ruthless leader of the nationalist movement.

Based on the 1912 novel by Tagore, at a time when the colonial British were partitioning Bengal in order to separate the Muslims and the Hindus.

"When it comes to truthfulness about women's lives, this great Indian movie-maker Satyajit Ray shames the American and European directors of either sex." Pauline Kael

first played at the Stanford Theatre Nov 5, 2003; last played Nov 2003