Greatest Film Scenes
and Moments

The Music Room (1958)


Written by Tim Dirks

Title Screen
Movie Title/Year and Scene Descriptions

The Music Room (1958, India) (aka Jalsaghar)

In Satyajit Ray's fourth feature film partially told in flashback - a musical drama contrasting the old traditional ways and more modern ways - and one of the first examples in Indian cinema to incorporate classical Indian music and dancing as integral and essential components, with a score composed by distinguished Bengali maestro Vilayat Khan:

  • in the film's opening under the title credits, the camera tracked forward to view an ornate swinging chandelier (with candles) in darkness, located in the center of the main character's 'music room' (jalsaghar) - where elaborate and indulgent concerts (at great expense) would be held
  • the film's theme - the downfall of the main character: an aging, melancholic Bengali feudal landlord (zamindar), Biswambhar Roy (Chhabi Biswas) in the 1920s, whose decadent aristocratic wealth was rapidly declining in his large, crumbling palace (with bats flying down the corridors of the mansion ) where he smoked a hookah on his roof, while his adjoining land was being eroded and washed away by the encroaching Padma River
Ornate Multi-Candled Chandelier in Crumbling Palace
Aging Bengali Landlord Roy on Rooftop
  • the contrast of the music-addicted, reclusive, depressed landlord to his nearby, uncultured neighbor -- upwardly-mobile, nouveau riche money-lender Mahim Ganguly (Gangapada Basu) with a more modern home (with electricity provided by a noisy electric generator) and a competing music room
  • a flashback to Roy's scheduled, ostentatious New Year's Day music concert (jalsa), held in his music room in the palace (to compete and upstage his rival Ganguly's concert), and Roy's ominous view of an insect drowning in his glass during the concert, followed by a climactic storm sequence and the news that Roy's wife Mahamaya (Padma Devi) and teenaged son Khoka (Pinaki Sen Gupta) had drowned in a capsized boat during the storm on their untimely return to attend the performance
  • Roy's planning of his first musical dance performance in his re-opened, dusty and cob-webbed music room since his family's death four years earlier; during a long take, he looked around the shabby room, noticing the worn carpets, bookcases, family portraits, and ornate chandelier covered with spiderwebs; he also looked at his antiquated image in a tarnished mirror
  • after a triumphant and successful concert in the music room, Roy foolishly and extravagantly offered his last bag of family jewels to one of the famous dancer-entertainers Krishnabai (Roshan Kumariv), to again upstage Ganguly
Drunkenly Wandering Through Music Room
  • in the sequence following, he drunkenly wandered through the now-empty concert music room, offering toasts to his forebearers: ("To you, my noble ancestors!"), and then to his own youthful portrait (marred by his sight of a large black spider scurrying across the painting's leg) ("To you, my noble self"); there was the metaphoric sight of the lights in the hallway corridor and the chandelier's candle lights being extinguished one-by-one ("All lights are out!") - darkening the entire room, causing him to become hysterical, until his aging servant Ananta (Kali Sarkar) opened the heavy curtains and let in the first rays of sunlight
  • the ending - Roy's manic and crazed decision to gallop away on his white horse to the beach, where he was reminded of his dead family when he saw a beached, broken-down boat on the shore; he was thrown off the back of the horse (his turban went flying from his head to the sand) as it charged toward the boat - he suffered lethal wounds when he struck the ground
  • the last image - a duplication of the opening image - the swinging chandelier

Roy's Ominous View of Insect Drowning in His Glass

Dusty, Music Room

Roy Viewing Himself in Mirror

After Musical Concert - Roy Offered Jewels to Dancer

Ominous Large Black Spider Scurrying Across Portrait

Extinguishing of Burning Chandelier Lights

Death of Roy - Thrown Off Horse


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