The Hero ★★★★½

Excellent character study and a great companion piece for Charulata. Both focus on a protagonist who is beloved yet emotionally unfulfilled, whose static life is suddenly electrified and reexamined because of a chance encounter with a stranger. Both films also feature entertaining side stories and minor characters. Although I still prefer Charulata as a holistic experience, I can concede that Nayak was better written, with incredible focus on framing the insular story simply while filling it with such a wide variety of interesting characters and backstories. The greatest strength of Nayak's writing is probably its ability to tell hidden stories around the story on screen, to give the audience comprehensive clues about offscreen events we never get to see. It was fascinating to see a filmmaker as plain and pure as Satyajit Ray work with flashbacks and dream sequences, and I wonder if I'll see him return to these flashier techniques in his other films as well.

Overall it's a beautifully edited work that's brilliantly written with some fun sequences, but as a film I felt it left me just a bit cold. Can't wait to rewatch this in a few years alongside Charulata.

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