First Look: SAIBAL MITRA’S HANANKAAL Bengali Film
Hanankaal is Saibal Mitra’s second full-length feature film. It is being produced by Rose Valley and presented by Goutam Ghose. It forms part of a series of low budget digital films to be released commercially. “This is actually an experiment to see if a low budget films with out-of-the-box subjects targeted at a discerning audience can succeed in the market. There are other film makers who will make film under this project gradually. As far as my film Hanankaal is concerned, I have tried to deal with the concept of the clash of civilization vis-à-vis position of terrorism and the war thereon within the sphere of the family,” explains Mitra.
Hanankaal is based on a short story by Samaresh Basu written during his last days. The story is about Paromita and Arup who meet in a chat room and get married. Arup has a high-flying job as a television journalist in a leading channel and hardly has enough time to devote to his beautiful wife. But Paromita is not affected because she is too busy setting up her new home in Arup’s old three-room apartment. She works in the sales and ad department of a magazine. Once, when Arup leaves the city on an assignment for a fortnight, Paromita redesigns the entire flat differently – from the colour on the walls, the furniture, the vessels, the furnishing, everything. Arup, usually a reserved man, is surprised. Then strange things begin to happen. The dinner one night is scattered right across the table. Paromita’s favourite plants are uprooted from their pots and strewn across the front door. A beautiful vase is smashed to smithereens. The sofa furnishing is slashed into bits. Who is doing all this? There is no one in the house except Paromita and Arup, the daily help Razia and the dog Lepchu. It would not be right to give the climax away at this point.
Mitra has put together a very interesting cast. Aparajita Ghosh-Das plays Paromita and Debshankar Haldar plays Arup. Arun Mukherjee plays Alam Saheb, a secular Muslim while Chitra Sen plays his Hindu wife. Supriya Debi is Arup’s mother in the film. Tejendra Narayan Majumdar is composing the music and Joydeep Bose is D.O.P. The script has been penned by Mitra himself. The character of Alam Saheb is not there in the original work.
“I was looking for a story which could help me explore the killing climate of our times and also to debate whether this whole issue of war on terror/terrorism is a fight between the fundamentalists and the liberals or whether it is a clash of culture and civilization as some keep arguing. The clash of civilizations is definitely my focus of interest here,” explains Mitra. “As far as the casting of the film goes, I decided to cast two individuals with different skin tones and looks. I think Aparajita Ghosh-Das with light skin, Western looks and structure and Debshankar with a very Indian, dark looks and structure fit into my conceptions neatly. They also represent two different cultural orientations in terms of their speech patterns and body language,” details Mitra. “Gautam-da gave me complete freedom to do as I wished to about this film,” he sums up.
Mitra made some wonderful telefilms, serials and documentary films over the years. His first feature film Shongshoy, narrated a sad tale of the abuse of power by a powerful man and how it can manipulate the motherhood of a vulnerable, helpless widow saddled with a small son but no financial backing. His long documentary on Tagore, In the Land of Chhinnopatro was brilliant.
Shoma A. Chatterji