Chhabi Biswas, Sardar Akhtar, Gangapada Basu
Produced between the final two parts of Satyajit Ray’s celebrated Apu trilogy, The Music Room depicts a changing India, its society in flux with long-held privilege in decline and threatened by new wealth.
Set in the late ’20s, it follows decadent Bengali zamindar (landlord) Biswambhar Roy (the beloved Chabi Biswas), an otherworldly man who prefers spending time listening to music and dreaming of the past. His greatest joy is the music room in his now dilapidated mansion, a shadow of its former self.
Brilliantly evoking the crumbling opulence of Roy’s former world, Ray sets up incandescent depiction of the clash between tradition and modernity, and a ravishing showcase for some of the most popular Indian musicians of the day.
A defining work by Ray and perhaps his most evocative film, it is magnificently beautiful and filled with observant detail: an insect in a glass, the bliss of an elephant bathing in the river and the joy of the servants reopening the dusty music room.