Saturday, August 21, 2010

AKALER SANDHANE (Bengali) (1980)

Is the movie camera the most apt instrument to record reality?

It’s not a close ended question to answer simply with ‘yes’ or ‘no’. It demands broad explanation and introspection. Here is a brilliant film which not only tries to answer the question with fine critical eye but also shows us the ironical and penetrating truth of relations between cinema and reality in Indian society. Mrinal Sen’s this critically acclaimed masterpiece is ‘the best film within film’ intermixing different layers of reality. A film unit landed to a remote Bengali village to shoot a film on Great famine of 1943. It was one of the darkest phase of Bengal which killed more than fifty lakh people. The film unit is led by an idealistic art filmmaker who wanted to make a film with social commitment, but there are many impediments. One of the heroines left the film with her tantrums, a strange thing happened while filming one of the scene and then the search of heroine in village created hatred for the film unit since she has to play a role of a lady who sells her skin to survive. Ultimately agitated by villagers and advised by an old headmaster, the director and the film unit have to pack up and leave the village. For the director, the fantasy to capture the reality ended and he has to shoot his dream project in make believe and artificial world of studio.

Sen with his self indulgent and experimental style narrated the contrast and gap between the world of privileged and underprivileged and their binary opposed world of reality. For urban film crew, the famine lies in those journalistic photographs full of skeleton like faces and figures but for the rooted villagers it’s part of their worst existential reality. Sen who’s preoccupied with theme of famine and ruined buildings brilliantly used both of them in this film. There’s many sparks of irony too. Make believe reality of cinema transformed the reality of a local woman named Durga and the reality bites to the film crew especially the director and heroine. One of the village folk said quite satirically, “They came to take pictures of famine and sparks off another famine.” But the brilliant explanation come in the end from the saner old headmaster.

The film has fine company of restrained Bengali actors like Dhritiman Chatterjee who plays the director, Dipankar Dey, Radhamohan Bhattacharya in a small but significant role of old headmaster and off course Smita Patil as a sensible heroine. The film received National Awards for Best Film, Best Director and Best Screenplay and prestigious silver bear at Berlin Festival. Sen was surprised for getting award for screenplay, as he confessed once that almost 60% of the film was improvised and written on location.

Undoubtedly one of the Best Bengali film and the masterpiece by Mrinal Sen.



Anonymous said...

Akaler Shandhane which translates to Famine seekers is indeed a fantastic film and is one of the epitomes of The Indian new wave. The contrast between an engineered famine of 1980 and the actual famine of 1943 is what sets the film apart. The film documents the convivial life among the film crew and the hazards, problems and tension of film making on location. An actual famine is triggered when the crew consume most of the available food products, Sen's line of thought is commendable here.

A typical free wheeling, politically involved and didactic cinema, a stark deviation from the otherwise accepted norms of Indian Cinema. A signature Mrinal Sen.

Luv said...

Have added the flm to my d/l list.

Waise, expecting to see a review of Guide soon...

HIREN DAVE said...

@raging mind
thx for comment...

will surely post ur recomendation of GUIDE of my alltime fav. hindi film.

HIREN DAVE said...
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