The year 1961 marked the birth centenary of Rabindranath Tagore. Ray celebrated it with a feature film as well as a long documentary. Many of Tagore's vast mass of short stories are finely created, and yet have an earthiness and humanity which has endeared them to a wide readership. Often they suffer when expanded to full-length features; the decision to treat them as short features is thus very apt.
In "Postmaster", Ray is once again in his element. The forty-minute film is full of human warmth nestling inside its brief but well-moulded form. The servant girl is like a little mother with a store of outgoing love; a tight-lipped dignity protects her soft heart from showing the hurts it sustains. The young postmaster from the city takes a casual interest in her, spends his spare time teaching her the alphabet and chatting generally. To the orphan child, unused to such attention in the midst of her hard life of child labour, it becomes a real relationship, as though she she has found someone who values her. She looks after him with a singlemindedness and care that one extends only to close relatives. She is not therefore prepared for the way he gets himself transfered and abandons her a withought. All he can think of is to give her a tip that she is too hurt to take. Such casual mobility is not part of the world she inhibits, surrounded by its bamboo grooves, stagnant waters " breeding malarial mosquitoes and a lone madman breaking the silence".
At the turn of the century, when the story takes place, the post-office is not a very old institutuin and along with the railway, provides a tenuous link with the world outside. The village is a self-contained unit; relationship here are more enduring than the postmaster conceives them to be. Ray achieves the sense of the early hiatus between town and village perfectly, and contrasts the two world-views with a compassinate irony.