Out of the blue Anila receives a letter from her uncle Manmohan. After 35 years abrad, he wants to stay a few days with his only living relative. While Anila prepares for his arrival, her husband Sudhindra remains suspicious: what is the nature of this man who invites himself to their home? How can they even know he is who he claims to be? Manmohan’s arrival hardly clarifies matters. Cultured and intellectually superior to his perplexed hosts and their friends, he is prepared to play devil’s advocate when they quiz him about his past and his motive.
Manmohan is clearly Ray himself – a traditionalist yet a stranger in his own land; an anthropologist ‘with shakespeare, tagore, Marx and Freud in my bollodstream’. Beautifully played, the film reflects Ray’s ambivalence about nature of civilisation; it works as a mystery and as a satire on bourgeois mores, – the perpetual streuggle between bad faith and good form. The subtle, touching ending stands amongst the prize sequences of the year.