Synopsis by Eleanor Mannikka
Noted Indian director Satyajit Ray scripted and arranged the music, as well as directed this brief look into one moment in the caste system in India. When an untouchable (an out-caste, played by Om Puri) approaches the ranking village Brahman (the highest caste, known for learning and wisdom) to request him to set an auspicious date for his daughter's upcoming wedding the Brahman is willing to perform that astrological task in exchange for some labor on the part of the untouchable. Already ailing, the old man agrees and starts to work cleaning the Brahman's house and stables. When he is set the task of chopping a nearly petrified block of wood, his fury (at his fate? at the Brahman? at the caste system itself?) increases with each blow, and in the end, the battle is too much - he succumbs to his severe physical debilities and dies. Because his body is lying in a place where Brahmans go to get water, the Brahman uses a forked stick to pick up one leg of the corpse, ties a rope around it, and hauls the body off to a spot where untouchables and animals are cremated. There is no more concern for this human being than for a bag of garbage that has to be taken out before the smell becomes offensive. And for most viewers, there could be no more eloquent an indictment against the caste system itself.
bigotry, cross-cultural-relations, daughter, death, wedding