Sen's CHORUS won the National award for best feature film in 1974. Made in Bengali, CHORUS was the only film of Mrinal Sen made in the form of a social satire. The film featured Utpal Dutt, Shekar Chaterjee, Subhendu Chaterjee, Supanta Bhattacharjee, Geeta Sen, Snigdha Mazumdar, Tarun Roy, Nani Ganguly, Sipra Chakravorty, Nirmal Ghosh, Ashok Mitra and others. Music was scored by Ananda Shankar and Prasanta Bhattacharya, who also received a National award for music in that year for this film.
Sen's CHORUS was based on a script written by the Director himself and Mohit Chattopadhay. Sen used a lot of innovative techniques in this film. The film was a critique of the failure of our system in providing our increasing middle class with the minimum essentials.
In a certain organization, forms are being given for filling up of vacancy posts. There is a huge number of applicants for the vacancy. Though the intake would be only a hundred, there have been 30,000 applicants for this hundred jobs. Most of the applicants are from distant towns and villages around Calcutta. Subhendu Chaterji plays a photo-journalist on the lookout for scoops for his newspaper. There is a virtual riot-scene even during issue of forms. A few applicants are next introduced to the viewers, and a bit of their family background is unfolded before us. Most of them are badly in need of a job. Through one such applicant, another prominent character is introduced - Mandal Chacha, a greedy trader from the same village as our applicant. When police raids his house, they find nothing as because he conceals his goods in a secret hideout in his godown. However, when the police officials return back after an abortive search raid of his house, he audaciously offers to send some gifts to the officials.
Mandal Chacha hoards sack full of grains in his godown. But our applicant loses his father, the cause of death being starvation. Now the burden of the family falls on the applicant, as he has a mother and a grandma to look after. He asks Mandal Chacha to provide him with any menial job. Mandal Chacha does provide him with some advice to go to city in search of jobs. Our applicant catches Mandal chacha in his godown with his stock of goods concealed illegally. Soon Mandal Chacha joins the election fray, and is a contender for the MLA Post from his village.
In another sub-plot, Mr. Mukherjee (Shekar Chaterji) is a worker in the same organization that has advertised this vacancy. He and his fellow-workers have been on strike for the past six months, and are almost in a beggarly state. They have now come down to the streets shouting for their demands. When they reach their company, they are assaulted by the security forces there. In this, Shekar Chaterji and a few others receive minor injuries.
Mr. Mukherjee has a penchant for the bottle, and that night, when he meets his bosses moving around in their cars, he yells that the worker's demands be met. When they just pass him by, in frustration he pelts his bottle at the car breaking the glasses. Naturally, he gets badly beaten up by the drivers and other people.
Utpal Dutta, Ajoy Bannerji, Haradhan Bannerji and four other people are in the selection committee for choosing the 100 suitable candidates. They receive a threatening letter saying that "the 30000 applicants are going to invade their offices, and dance amidst the ruins of these higher-ups". Utpal Dutta gets scared at this, and seeks the help of the police and raise the security level around them. Arrives Subrata Sen Sharma as the police Inspector, who has come to investigate the authenticity of the threat. Subhendu Chaterji, the photo-journalist, gets material for publishing, and can be seen busy clicking away the signs "30,000" which appears almost everyone in the city as well as the villages.
Now the agitation of the workers lead by Shekar Chaterji and gang is joined by the peasants, who extends their support for the cause of the workers by traveling long distances from their villages carrying food and other essentials for their agitating worker brothers. Soon, the CHORUS of workers, peasants and the unemployed applicants join hands and go berserk. Utpal Dutta and his team has to flee to escape their wrath, and the ending sequence shows Utpal Dutta engulfed by barbed wires and all controls i.e. the system becoming ineffective, and unable to save him from this melee of disgruntled people.
Sen's CHORUS won the Swarna Kamal for Best Bengali film.
These works of Sen embodying socialist content couched in vigorous and inventive cinematic idiom was to become his flaming trademark.
CHORUS remains one of the most abstruse work of Sen.
Using a catchy poster for films have always been popular. Sen's CHORUS had Robi Ghosh portrayed as a circus clown in a poster drawn by Shuvaprasanna.
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