Teen Kanya (Two Daughters). 1961. India. Written and directed by Satyajit Ray. With Anil Chatterjee, Chandana Banerjee, Aparna Sen. 35mm. In Bengali; English subtitles. 114 min.
Satyajit Ray’s follow-up to his Apu Trilogy focuses on two remarkable young women in rural India. Originally composed of three segments based on the stories of Rabindranath Tagore, the international release version of the film in MoMA’s collection includes only two. The first story, “Postmaster,” follows a young girl assigned to be caretaker of the village’s new postman. Her intellect and maturity are outstanding, particularly in contrast with the oafish postman, away from home for the first time. “The Conclusion”, the second story, echoes this dissonance between young women’s abilities and the opportunities they are provided, as a fiercely independent teenager enters an arranged marriage. The film was most recently shown at MoMA in 2014, as part of curator Charles Silver’s invaluable An Auteurist History of Film series. Silver wrote, “Ray reveals himself to be a committed feminist, critical of a society that, then and now, treats women unequally.”