Shunyo Awnko (Bengali, 2013)

Kobe hobe sojol borsha
Mone rekhe chi se bhorosa
” – Lalan Fakir

(When’re we getting a wet monsoon,
One’s being optimistic about it …)

An executive (Priyanshu Chaterjee) is assigned a crucial bauxite mining project in the tribal Maoist infested area in Buxar. The adivasis (tribals) of the area resist the takeover of the land for the compensation promised in lieu of the developmental project.

Raka Biswas (Konkana Sen Sharma as a cigarette puffing journo after PAGE 3) is reporting on the simmering events in its wake. The ex-Air Hostess wife of Priyanshu is a modern lady capable of controlling tough situations on her own (like taking an accident victim to the hospital and handling cops on her own on behalf of her husband). She also watches English comedy films, gets inebriated and tries to enact life-threatening scenes from Fellini films …

The director does sprinkle hint of an extra martial affair between Priyanshu and Konkana. Priyanshu and Konkana bond over the common project on which they’re working.

Dreamland have become killing fields. The violence and militancy that have gripped the life of Adivasis is woven into the multi-layered narrative which advocates preservation of ecology and tribal heritage and cautions us about calamitous changes should be disregard them. State violence has to stop to quell militant violence. A good Samaritan doctor (Dhiritiman Chatterjee modelled on a Binayak Sen like character) spends his life among tribal sacrificing a lucrative career in urban India doing medical camps as well as teaching kids and adults, gets arrested for treating Maoists (his defense that a doctor’s duty is only to save lives doesn’t find takers).

Priyanshu takes a break from work and goes off on a vacation with his wife to Manali. Gautam Ghose beautifully captures the snowy charm of the tourist town. Priyanshu and his wife stay as a paying guest in the house of an elderly Muslim couple (Soumitro Chatterjee and — ) . Soumitro leads a retired life working on his pet project WAW (War against Weapon) to prevent cyber terrorism. This is the weak link in the film and have possibly been included to present the integrative vision of historical figures (Dara Shikoh, Lalan Fakir and Rabindranath Tagore who have influenced the director considerably) in nation building.

The elderly couple have had a tragedy in their lives. The couple had a son (a BBC correspondent) believed to be killed by security forces in Kashmir. That’s why the lady harbors a concealed hatred towards Hindus (which explodes on occasions – She labels Hindus as ‘kafirs’ and the Hindu gods propagating unhealthy habits like smoking, while Islam teaches her to be disciplined, pray five times and keep ‘Roja.’) However, towards the denouement, she invites the Hindu couple again to visit her.

After Mrinal Sen, Goutam Ghose has emerged to be the most socially conscious among the parallel filmmakers from Bengal. Rabindrasangeet have been used in tune with the breathtaking scenery of Manali – “Hriday amaar naache re, mayur er moto naache re.”

The film ends on an ambiguous note. Overall, the film suffers from inclusion of too many weighty issues into the narrative. Priyanshu Chatterjee acts brilliantly. Konkana is competent. The film is directed by Goutam Ghose.

Rating: 3.8 out of 5


More by :  Subhajit Ghosh

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