Stay Awake! | Chicago Reader

Stay Awake!

Indian screen idol Raj Kapoor plays a villager new to Calcutta who's mistaken for a thief while getting a drink of water outside a fashionable apartment complex and finds himself drawn into a vortex of corruption and mass hysteria. Writer-directors Sombhu Mitra and Amit Maitra, both associates of Kapoor, thrust his Chaplinesque tramp into a series of encounters that expose the foibles, hypocrisy, and insularity of the middle class, and while much of the satire remains fresh, most of the scenes run too long, with way too many shots of Kapoor miming fear and outrage. Longtime Kapoor cinematographer Radhu Karmakar conjures up a neorealist look that fits this 1957 film's socialist-patriotic bent, and the upbeat coda—in which a serene young woman (Nargis in her last pairing with Kapoor) sings a devotional while offering water to the tired tramp—confirms Kapoor's romantic humanism. 168 min.

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