Release date23 May 1958 CastKali Bannerjee (Bimal), Keshto Mukherjee (Lunatic), Anil Chatterjee (Groom), Gangapada Basu (Uncle), Satindra Bhattacharya Similar moviesRelated Ritwik Ghatak movies
Ajantrik (known internationally as The Unmechanical, The Mechanical Man or The Pathetic Fallacy) is a 1958 Indian Bengali film written and directed by parallel filmmaker Ritwik Ghatak. The film is adapted from a Bengali short story of the same name written by Subodh Ghosh.
A comedy-drama film with science fiction themes, it is one of the earliest Indian films to portray an inanimate object, in this case an automobile, as a character in the story. It achieves this through the use of sounds, recorded during post-production, to emphasize the car's bodily functions and movements. The protagonist Bimal can be seen as an influence on the cynical cab driver Narasingh (played by Soumitra Chatterjee) in Satyajit Ray's Abhijan (1962), which in turn served as a prototype for the character of Travis Bickle (played by Robert De Niro) in Martin Scorsese's Taxi Driver (1976).
The film was considered for a special entry in the Venice Film Festival in 1959.
Bimal is a taxi-driver in a small provincial town. He lives alone, his taxi (an old 1920 Chevrolet jalopy which he named Jagaddal) is his only companion and, although very battered, it is the apple of Bimal's eye. The film shows episodes from his life in the industrial wasteland, delivering people from one place to another.
Film critic Georges Sadoul shared his experience of watching the film in this way. He said, "What does 'Ajantrik' mean? I don't know and I believe no one in Venice Film Festival knew...I can't tell the whole story of the film...there was no subtitle for the film. But I saw the film spellbound till the very end". According to the noted Bengali poet and German scholar Alokranjan Dasgupta, "The merciless conflict of ethereal nature and mechanised civilization, through the love of taxi driver Bimal and his pathetic vehicle Jagaddal seems to be a unique gift of...modernism."