|Poster being sold for $350 on eBay|
"Originally conceived as a three-part film, with each story running roughly an hour, Ray explores the fates of women in Indian society of the 50s. The middle film, the part that had been missing for decades, involves a ghost story in a once opulent mansion conceived in the manner of an English country estate. The film itself is a phantom as the film was released internationally without this section. The haunting presence or absence (since it is the thing that is not explicitly dealt with but lingers like the morning fog) is the issue of British imperialism and colonization. The wife's obsession is non-sensical since the camera is concerned with the space, furniture, and ornaments of the English-fied estate.(The characters in the film are 'ornaments' themselves as ornaments/jewellery is the key word here.) The ghost that lurks the mansion and garden outside is the influence of British values and ideas in a colonized country. What Ray brilliantly shows (by accident, I feel) is how the colonized subjects, the educated middle class and upper class, become curious actors in their own land, confused and unable to make the right decisions with regards to those unlike them: those who don't speak English and have no British 'sensibilities'. This is why the male character in the first section is unable to do the sentimental thing (in mainstream movie standards) which is equated as the right thing. And this is why the male character in the second (third in the original conception) essentially tames his *wild* woman by his sentimental gesture. On the primary and literal level, the film uses the fate of women to show the state of Indian society back then. These women are not Mother India (an iconic film) but instead are daughters of hers, which might explain the title. In addition, the daughter designation also frees them to from the responsibility of representing the Nation; and they are of age to marry and create families of their own. But no families are created in these domestic stories. The women's tears are epic, as Ray is able to bring out amazing performances from his actors, but the stories themselves seem to be in a tradition of what I can only describe as an old-fashioned humanism. There is something intact about the characters, solid, not so much archetypes, but formally recognizable as some kind of types. They way they react to the world is in accordance to a strictly defined psychology which doesn't waver except for the woman in the ghost story who's motivation is unstable and hence her unresolvable absence/presence which indicates what constitutes a viable character, the one who can be read as a recognizable and understandable figure. (Sorry not being clear, writing this while thinking, but you get the gist, no?) I guess what I'm saying is what is of interest is the woman in the second film, the section that never got released, because her character cannot be contained and could not be sustained as a viable presence. Her state shows Ray grappling with how to portray a character of differing motivations or it shows Ray's awareness of his own limitation because the world around him could not provide him with the vocabulary to do so, but he does attempt it! The form of the short story itself appears part of this idea of humanism, in the belief that things can be conveyed in this form which Ray transmutes into the medium of film. These stories are ultimately unreconcilable, which explains the state of the film for so long of missing section, because it follows the stories rigorously from its original form which in turn brings its attendant ideas about characterization and what makes one a human person. This may explain the presences of strange humans and animals in the narratives: a crazy old man, a pet squirrel, and a mysterious cousin. These are the figures that never made it to become characters and they appear as ornaments in the films. More significantly, it is the British accessories all around, a book by Scott or Tennyson, portraits of the royal family, western jacket, to name a few that function as signs of civilization--as the film itself is. I've never been convinced of Ray's work entirely (except for the poetic *Pather Panchali*), not sure to whose eyes these films were made for. The dismembered fate of the film reveals how colonialism had yet to be reconciled in Ray's consciousness; and the current reincarnation of the film--the third film was screened separately--shows that the non-diegetic world of the film has to do its own confronting of the past."