Sunday, June 22, 2014

Saturday Night and Sunday Morning (1960), written by Allan Sillitoe, directed by Karel Reisz, produced by Tony Richardson

It is difficult for many of the viewers of Indian cinema to think of a working class story, a working class film. Part of the problem could be that India's working class did not ever acquire a voice of its own. Allan Sillitoe wrote the working class stories,rather brilliant ones, including Loneliness of a Long Distance Runner. There has also not been a working class movie in India. There have been films about poor people, not about the working class. That is why, it is such a pleasure to watch the 1960 black and white film, Saturday Night and Sunday Morning. There is the factory scene where Arthur, the protagonist, works. And it is a working class that is in the process of getting gentrified. But the rough edges remain in speech and mannerism even as the middle class modes creep into their homes. The working class members are not all proletarian, nor completely middle class. The women are elegant but they have not yet have acquired the empty coquetry of the idle class with empty hearts and emptier brains. There is simplicity and innocence and a touching faith in human relationships. Arthur, the protagonist appears to be the rebel, who wants to break the working class ideas of morality, of right and wrong. He aspires to be the liberated bourgeois-bohemian. He is however still committed to the idea of fighting the good fight for the underdog. But the dreams are of a home and family in the middle of the working class ethos which stands at times on the edge of gloom and despair. But it is hope and dreams that win out. The working class was moving into the quiet comforts of modest affluence and education.
Albert Finney as Arthur gives a solid performance. And Shirley Anne Field as Irene who settles in Arthur's life brings a rare radiance in the middle of the grime of a working class neighbourhood. Rachel Roberts as Brenda, the woman who has an affair with Arthur, shows the harshness that creeps over the life of a working class woman.
A viewing of Saturday Night and Sunday Morning makes one long for a true working class movie to be made in India.

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