Seven Steps ★★★½

There's a line between beautiful, heartbreaking, poignant resonance and cheesy soap opera with ridiculous drama. This film is that line.

For about two-thirds of its runtime, it sets up and delivers an absolute masterpiece of romance with a complex understanding of religion in India. From the screenplay, to the adorable acting of Uttam and Suchitra, to the score and the songs, to even the editing, nearly everything is just perfect. (Although I'll admit, I feel like the blocking and stage direction was a bit uncreative). But once the core conflict has manifested itself, the film implodes. Discontent with the simple, predictable, real-world drama, it quickly amps up the stakes with some bizarrely dark twists followed by cheerfully easy resolutions. If this were made in American Hollywood today, I'd speculate studio interference affected the ending, but this is Bengali Cinema 1961. I'm not sure how to reconcile the last hour with the exceptional 90 minutes that precede it. Needless to say, it still remains a beautiful movie and a true must-watch. My grandma recommended it, and as I watched with her she started singing the songs, from memory. Apparently she and her friends were big movie-goers back in college, and she still remembers all the classics. Grandparents are amazing, aren't they?

Oh, the whole film is on YouTube, and I added some subtitles I found. My favorite sequence of the movie occurs at exactly 90 minutes in and is purely music and visuals. Only 60 seconds, give it a watch:

For spoiler-filled context (and one of the best dialogue scenes in the film), start instead at 87 minutes:

But be warned! At 91 minutes in, the whole film starts to fall apart irreversibly. So don't watch any further!!!