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City of Joy (1992)

July 11, 2021 Logo Netflix Logo Tmdb Logo IMDb Logo Rotten Tomatoes Logo Metacritic Logo

Kolkata is known as ‘The City of Joy’ because the heartbeat of the city is the culture of love, respect, enthusiasm for life and art. The city itself seems to be a celebration of life and that celebration reaches to every corner of the city. City of Joy celebrates the generosity of spirit that the city embodies through a story of a rural famer and his family finding a new way of life and a new community while helping an American doctor reconnect with his soul.

An American man holding a little Indian boy
Image Courtesy of TMDb

After troubling economic times that led to being indebted to moneylenders, Hazari Pal (Om Puri) moves his family into the city to begin again. When he is swindled out of the last of his money, his family is forced to survive on the streets. Late on night he comes to the rescue of and American man who is being beaten and robbed. This selfless act leads Hazari to a community of people who are eager to welcome and his family and help them find their way in the city.

The doctor is Max Lowe (Patrick Swayze). He is India to escape his past and to find peace. What he finds, instead, is family in the most unlikely of places. Drawn into service of the community in the slums of Kolkata, Max dedicates his time to the local clinic and to helping his new found friends find stability and safety. In the midst of all of this, Max discovers himself and the beauty of community.

An Indian man sitting in a rickshaw and an American man kneeling in front of him
Image Courtesy of TMDb

City of Joy was far from a box office smash when it was released in 1992 but it has developed a faithful fan-base over the years. Tough it doesn’t have the same cult following as Swayze’s Dirty Dancing, most Swayze fans loved it. It is a beautiful story and highlights the trials and deep sense of community that can be found in the unexpected places of the world.

Om Puri was a well known Indian actor and City of Joy was his first Hollywood production. He put great effort into preparing for his role as a rickshaw driver and was very nervous to work along Swayze who was ay the height of his fame at the time. The two became fast friends and developed a life-long respect and affection for each other.

An Indian woman staring out of a train car window
Image Courtesy of TMDb

Based on the book of the same name by Dominiique Lapierre, City of Joy is inspired by real people and true events, though the conversations are fictional and some situations are blended for pacing and plotting. The book was award winning and caught the attention of screenwriter, Mark Medoff, who adapted it for film.

This film is beautiful and inspiring. it is visually interesting and, if you allow it, it will open your heart to the beauty found in struggle and the community that can be found in shared experience. This is City of Joy.

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