Devi; Goddess, The

2534. DEVI (The Goddess) (1960-lndia). Directed, adapted and produced by SATYAJIT RAY. Satyajit Ray not only was India’s most distinguished film director, but one of the world’s all-time great cinema geniuses. In 1992, he earned a lifetime achievement Academy Award, a rare feat for a non-American filmmaker. This may not be his best-known work, but it still is an extremely impressive and thought-provoking drama that is deserving of more widespread acclaim. Ray ever-so-gently weaves the story of Kalikinkar, a rich and pious but nonetheless crazed patriarch, who dreams that his young daughter-in-law Doyamoyee is a reincarnation of the fabled Hindu “mother goddess,” Kali. The latter is the most revered deity in Bengal; belief in human incarnations of Kali have been widespread throughout the country. “I had a vision,” he explains, “Now I know why my devotion has not been in vain.” Kalikinkar is convinced that his dream is a sacred prophecy, and so he places Doyamoyee on an altar, so that she may be revered by all. Yet Doyamoyee is no goddess. She is not immortal. She has no special powers. She is just a frightened young girl. Ultimately, Kalikinkar’s obsession is certain to have a profoundly damaging impact on both Doyamoyee and her husband, who had been off tending to his studies in Calcutta while these events transpired. The film is at once a meticulously shaded study of religious fanaticism and a keenly observed exploration of the conflict between antiquated and more modern approaches to religious practices and traditions. Recommended. In Bengali with English subtitles. 97 minutes. Drama