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OCTOBER 27-NOVEMBER 2
In this 1975 Satyajit Ray satirical drama, promising Calcutta University student Somnath (Pradip Mukherjee) fails to graduate with honors because his professor can’t read Somnath’s small handwriting without the glasses he has failed to acquire. Graduated as a merely average student, Somnath spends almost a year fruitlessly seeking a job. Finally, he meets Bisuda (Utpal Dutta), who suggests that the young man go into business as a “middleman.” This is beneath the dignity of his family—and of the Bengali language, in which “middleman” and “pimp” are the same word—but with his father’s reluctant consent Somnath begins to pursue some deals. At first, it seems like easy money, but bigger transactions inevitably involve corruption, until Somnath is entirely alienated from the world of his family and friends. Though not Ray’s subtlest film, this offers another pungent, distinctive view of the turmoil of a spasmodically modernizing India. At the Key Theater, 1222 Wisconsin Ave. NW. (202) 333-5100. (Mark Jenkins)