Pratidandi (Bengali for Adversary or Opponent) is considered to be Satyajit Ray's finest film. Ray has portrayed a completely different style in this film by incorporating the 'French New Wave' techniques which weren't observed in his earlier movies. It is the first part of the critically acclaimed 'Calcutta Trilogy' which were a series of films aimed at highlighting the stagnating social and economic conditions of the city of Calcutta in the late sixties and early seventies. Originally written by novelist Sunil Gangopadhyay, Satyajit Ray added his own unique touch and produced the final screenplay.
The movie revolves around Siddharta who is one of the thousands of educated unemployed youth in Calcutta. Revolutionary activities are rampant with scores of talented and educated youth choosing the path of revolution; Siddharta's own brother being one of them. Siddharta discovers widespread corruption and bias in his quest to find a job, the apathy of the employers towards the unemployed, the career-oriented approach of his younger sister, the eternal restlessness of the soul of the city, and finally, love. In spite of all his struggles, Siddharta still manages to remain true to his principles right till the end.
The film has been shot brilliantly with realistic backdrops and terrific cinematography. There is a beautiful scene in which Siddharta sees for the first time the face of a girl-whom he eventually falls in love with-in the light of a match-stick. The sublime simplicity of the performance of all the actors, especially Dhritiman Chatterjee (Siddharta) is remarkable. The film begins with a captivating interview scene and ends with a thought provoking conclusion.
The film has won three National awards (a prestigious film award in India) and has been acclaimed internationally as well. About 110 minutes long, this gem from Bengali cinema is a brilliant movie - addressing the social issues while keeping the audience captivated simultaneously.