Kanchanjungha is dominated by Indranath Chowdhury, a retired officer of the British Raj who is on a holiday in the hill resort Darjeeling along with his flock, consisting of his wife, eldest daughter and her husband, his son, his younger daughter as well as his wife's brother. All the events take place in one day. Kanchanjungha is the Himalayan peak hanging magnificently over the town on a clear day but invisible on this day which is marked by subtle changes in mood reflected by the weather. Will the youngest daughter agree to wed the wngineer who is courting her with her father's evident approval---is the question at the centre of the film dormant under her father's complete conviction which takes her assent as a matter of formality. Into this situation walks a young unemployed man, a bit of an intellectual who gains the respect of the girl by impulsively turning down her father's help in getting a job. The self-important relic of the Raj upsets him by his pompous speech glorifying money and power and British rule. At the end there is a casual conversation between him and the Rai Bahadur's daughter about the possibility of meeting sometime in Calcutta.
Kanchanjungha's light-seeming story orchestrates and encapsulates a number of conflicts; conflict between the older and the younger generation, between the British India and independent India, between male supremacy and the beginnings of feminine assertion, between the people of the hills and the plains, between the corporate executive and the dissenting youth. It plays upon these contradictions with a deftness of touch, avoiding high drama and yet waking us up to the multiple dimensions of change taking place in society and holds up all pompousness to subtle ridicule.
Chhabi Biswas has given one of his greatest performances. His elegance, delivery of dialogues and supercillious attitudes are par exellence. All other characters including Karuna Banerjee, Pahari Sannyal, Arun Banerjee, Anubha Gupta, N. Viswanathan have done justices to their roles. Shot in colour, Ray has captured the landscape artistically. The film is a portrat gallery. The theme is synchronised with the surrounding landscape in which the peak of the Kanchanjungha suggested by the paramount profile of the protagonist Indranath Choudhury is, virtually lonely because of his lofty-height.