Greatest Film Scenes
and Moments

Devi (1960)


Written by Tim Dirks

Title Screen
Movie Title/Year and Scene Descriptions

Devi (1960, India) (aka The Goddess)

In Satyajit Ray's drama with stunning black and white cinematography, set in mid-19th century rural Bengal - a critique of religious fanaticism, superstition, and obsessive and ignorantly-blind, devoted beliefs in miracles and false idols:

  • the opening symbolic montage of a morphing stone statue head (under the title credits and after) - first with only blank contours, and then ornamented and bejewelled, transformed and overly-decorated; the face represented the Hindu diety of Kali after a slow camera zoom-out - the feared ten-armed 'mother goddess' of creation and destruction (and the consort of Lord Shiva), bedecked and worshipped during the annual religious festival of Durga Puja by frenzied, celebrating subjects as they paraded the statue in a procession towards a river (with fireworks) - where the inexpressive statue was submerged in the water and floated back to its source in the Himalayas
  • the character of beautiful and shy teenaged Doyamoyee or "Doya" (Sharmila Tagore), who was married to intellectual husband Umaprasad or "Uma" (Soumitra Chatterjee), who was planning to study at the university in Calcutta before raising a family with his young wife; after their marriage, "Doya" moved in with his family
  • "Doya" cared for her aging, rich land-owner (zaminder), widowed father-in-law Kalikinkar Roy (Chhabi Biswas) (who called her "mother"), a follower of Devi (Durga)
  • the scene of Kalikinkar's feverish, visionary divine dream - he imagined the matching third-eye on the statue of the goddess of Kali merging and superimposed onto his daughter-in-law Doya's face and forehead (and her decorative bindi), symbolizing divine insight; he awoke with absolute certainty that Doya was blessed - as an incarnation of the mother goddess deity Kali
  • Kalikinkar's manipulative conviction and insistence that everyone worship Doya, and that she had spiritual powers; at first reluctant, the naive and trusting Doya felt dutiful, submissive and compelled to obey his wishes - and eventually came to believe in her own transformation as a healing goddess (after she miraculously cured one man's dying young grandson); she was placed on a shrine-platform to sit confined and immobile for hours to receive supplicants, homage and prayers from priests and the sickly
  • the striking scene when Uma returned home from his exams, and became visibly upset by the sight of his wife when he came upon her with throngs around her - she had been transformed into an object of worship with worshippers standing in line to see her (with subtle movements, she noticed his arrival wth a momentary look up at him, a slight movement of her head horizontally (signifying no) with a tear in her right eye, and a half-smile followed by a flash of fear in her eyes, and then a look down); as he looked away and departed, her eyes followed him
Husband "Uma" Upset at Sight of Wife "Doya" as an
Object of Worship as Healing Goddess Kali
  • the tragic conclusion when she failed to cure her young nephew Khoka (Arpan Chowdhury), and she went insane
Unable to Cure Nephew
Doya's Flight
  • in the final image - shot as an apparition, she fled across a meadow of flowers and disappeared into a mist near the river

Stone Statue Head

Morphed into Hindu god Kali

The 10-Armed Mother Goddess

Teenaged "Doya" with Husband "Uma"

Kalikinkar's Fever Dream about Doya Being an Incarnation of Kali



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