For Mrinal Sen, it’s the most ambitious film of career made under Indo-French collaboration that failed miserably to catch attention either at home or abroad. For Sen it was great personal shock as he gathered the great crew to make this film. Hindi Parallel cinema’s three brilliant actors- Naseer, Om Puri and Shabana Aazmi, a foreign cinematographer and Pt. Ravishankar to score background music. And yet the film failed to get distributor and till day remains unreleased in Indian theatres except festivals.
Surviving a severe draught, a farmer and a weaver reached totally abandoned and cursed village in desert and settled there and started life. The two are solitary company and only a merchant visits them to get woven cloth and in return gives them things essential to survive. There’s absolute harmony between them until a destitute woman enters into their world. They start desiring her and demanding more from life but soon the dream turns into nightmare. The film was shot in remote non-existent site of Rajasthani village with cast of just four players and minimalist approach. Sen, whose most of the films are heavy with Marxist ideology wanted to make a film with universal theme for international audience and so he combined Samresh Basu’s short story with biblical allegory.
Sen mixed the biblical theme of creation and destruction with Marxist angle. Eve here has an extra Adam, the merchant here is an allegory of the serpent and money is perhaps the forbidden fruit. But the problem here does not lie in the fruit but desire to own which breeds possessive instinct and that’s what makes equality and harmony just conceptual theory in Marxist reading. Thematically it’s a powerful film but Sen miserably failed to give it full justice on screen. While juggling too many objectives, he ultimately ended making a mediocre art film. The plot is flat, editing is shoddy, the characteristic tension is missing and in fact he failed to get the full potential of all three lead actors. Though haven’t seen any of his Bengali films, I admired his ‘Bhuvan Shome’ so much but this one is quite disappointing affair.