The 1991 Mrinal Sen film MAHA PRITHIBI bears resemblance to some of the later films of Ray like GANASHATRU, SHAKHA PROSAKHA & AGUNTUK. In these films the two master filmmakers are seen reflecting on the winds of change sweeping contemporary society. These have been shot mostly indoors and verbosity dominates unlike their other works.
MAHA PRITHIBI shows the maturation and brilliance of a filmmaker in telling an incidental story weaving in the external forces (World Outside) into the drawing room of a middle class Bengali family (World Within).The usual Mrinalian signature style is all there – oscillatory/flashback mode, the probing of human relationships, use of newsreel and such devices, politics and violence.
Some of the sequences also seem a continuation of scenes that we have seen in the past. The scene where Soumitro gives money to his naxalite son in this film before he begins his journey as a fugitive is reminscent of the last sequence of PADATIK where the ‘differing’ father extends solidarity to his son (Dhritiman Chatterjee).
Sen conveys a lot visually in this film in comparison to his other works. Whether it is the sequence of the foreign returned son (Victor Bannerjee) inspecting the room of his dead mother, the fan in which his mother ended her life, or the unfilling of liquor on a potted plant the scenes are quite poignant in its communication of feelings.

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In assessing the tumult of the times where violence is an integral part of our lives, nowhere Sen seems to be judgemental but in the sequence of the boy Tinni playing with his gun cutting into a preceding newsreel report on violence Sen seems to be hinting that seed of violence and gun culture are imbibed in children since an early age. And there is no escape from it.
Rating: 4.2 out of 5

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