Kaaler Rakhal (2009) – Bengali Movie Review

“Kaler Rakhal” is the most awaited Bengali movie/cinema that features Nandana Sen (daughter of Nobel-winning father Amartya Sen), Parambrata Chatterjee, Rudraneel Ghosh, Roopa Ganguly, Soumitra Chatterjee, Shantilal Mukherjee and more. Directed by Sekhar Das, “Kaler Rakhal” is a movie about us. Unlike numerous entertainment genre, Kaler Rakhal gives us a genuine story where a couple returns to rural India to make a documentary film on folk theatre and Bohurupee. They soon realize that power and politics play the similar dominating role in rural beauty as anywhere else.

Kaler Rakhal (2009) – Bengali Movie Review
Kaaler Rakhal” is the most awaited Bengali movie/cinema that features Nandana Sen (daughter of Nobel-winning father Amartya Sen), Parambrata Chatterjee, Rudraneel Ghosh, Roopa Ganguly, Soumitra Chatterjee, Shantilal Mukherjee and more. Directed by Sekhar Das, “Kaler Rakhal” is a movie about us. Unlike numerous entertainment genre, Kaler Rakhal gives us a genuine story where  a couple returns to rural India to make a documentary film on folk theatre and Bohurupee. They soon realize that power and politics play the similar dominating role in rural beauty as anywhere else. A movie about realization, understanding culture and enjoy richness even at the poorest corners of India. Sekhar Das, who is already known for his good work in “Mehulbonir Sereng” and ” Krantikaal, is ready to bag some more praises from the audience.

Kaaler Rakhal Bengali Film Review
Reviewed by: Anirban De

Based on Nilanjan Chattopadhyay’s short story, “Du-Number Ashaami“, Sekhar Das brilliantly portrayes the account of “Kaaler Rakhal“, a tale encompassing the socio-political life of rural Bengal and describing the pathos of the farm-hands that comprise the major part of the populace there.

The film starts with Aparna and Krishna, representatives of a German based television company, shooting a documentary on the various aspects of folk Bengal especially open-air opera theatres, one of the crudest and purest art forms that characterizes rural Bengal.  For these they chose Suknadiha, one of the several villages on the banks of the river, Sahasrasrota and also home to Krishna’s maternal uncle, Chandrakanta. Chandrakanta, a very old resident of Suknadiha, had witnessed the curse of development that is gradually driving the purity of the land to extinction but he seemed to give in to the change and surrender to these never-ending transformations. This surprises Aparna who, unlike Krishna was less concerned for making the documentary than to explore the beauty of the land and its people that she felt more magnetizing. She began to love the simple soul of the villagers and tried to delve deep into their lifestyle. In the process she befriended two very promising local drama talents, Subal and Taher.

Subal Mandal
, a naïve and talented showman and an admirable songster and flute player, famous for his roles of ‘Bahuroopi’, was the only bread earner for his family comprising of his mother, sister and brother. But his innocence was a subject of exploitation by the Dadas of the local political party. So it was quite frequent that in exchange of some few hundreds of rupees Subal served short-term jail sentences on false accusations in order to save the gangster Tiger and his associates, the chief henchmen for the local party.

, a Muslim youth and close friend to Subal was another drama artist who played the part of heroines in operas. But he seemed to suffer from insecurity owing to the threat of an emerging lady star whom the proprietor of the drama company aimed to employ.

With these introductions the story rolls on and we find Aparna gradually blending with the culture and heritage of the countryside and enjoying her stay immensely. Little did she know of the tragic turn of events that awaited her as she was subjected to brutal molestations by the local goons and Subal was forced by the party heads to take the responsibility of this criminal act. Unable to convince his own self about this falsification and trying to evade the party’s wrath, Subal escaped to his aunt’s place at a far-off village. Here he met his cousin Sumi, a widowed girl who was soon attracted by the youthfulness and vitality of Subal. And so it was not long before these adolescent pair got wrapped up in an intimate relation that though was morally incorrect but only natural given the circumstances that they were in.

But Subal was soon wrenched out of his hiding and was again forced to accept the criminal charges with a threat to get killed if disobeyed. Realizing the power of the party’s network but unable to bear the charge that he was to be accused of, he found no way left but committing suicide and thus ending the matter satisfactorily for both the police and the party.

Here the story ends showing Subal’s younger brother replacing his brother as the local Bahuroopi’ while Aparna and the immortal souls of Subal and his dead father watches on, symbolizing that life still goes on in the village amid exploitations and corruptions with the soul of the village getting more and more soiled under the pretext of progress. By showing Subal-Taher friendship, the film gives a hint that in the lowest level of the country’s socio-economic structure, religious tension is completely absent and has also brought to light the abject poverty of the rural people that is exploited entirely in the interest of the party heads. This fascinating piece of anecdote with its realistic touch is a wonderful tribute to the gradually fading art of ‘Jatrapala’ and the characters that have been woven round it has truly brought the stark reality of the bucolic lifestyle which the rest of the country is quite unaware of.

Nandana Sen
is outstanding in her role of Aparna and Rudraneel is excellent as Taher. Parambrata as the lanky Subal is fascinating with his expressions but his pronunciations seems a bit over dramatized. Chandreyee Ghosh is brutally accurate in her portrayal of Sumi while Bimal Chakrabarti and Soumitra Chatterjee plays their part well. It is probably the last movie appearance of the late Kunal Mitra who is ever so natural in his role of the corrupt police officer while Santilal Mukherjee plays the sympathetic yet hypocrite party member correctly. My only grievance is Rupa Ganguli’s graceful acting that is wasted on a character that never plays a  prominent part in the whole story and could well have been done away with.
Premendu Bikash Chaki‘s masterly yet soothing cinematography deserves more than a hearty applause and so does the choice of the outdoor locations. In music, Indradeep Dasgupta presents a medley of Rabindra Sangeet and folk numbers with Rudraneel surprising with a song in his own voice and Shilajeet and Lopamudra enriching on the vocals. Produced by Shampa Ghosh and presented by Nobel Associate the movie is a must watch for cinema lovers and is sure to attract more and more schools of intellectual audience with time.

Kaler Rakhal (2009) - Bengali Movie Review
Kaler Rakhal (2009) - Bengali Movie Review

Kaler Rakhal (2009) Bengali Movie Details:

  • Released on: 3 April 2009
  • Language/Type : Bengali /U/A
  • Casting :  Parambrta Chatterjee (as an artist), Nandana Sen, Supriyo Bannerjee, Rudranil Ghosh, Roopa Ganguly (as a school teacher), Chandreyee Ghosh (as village girl), Soumitra Chatterjee, Usashi Chakraborty, Bimal Chakraborty, Shantilal Mukherjee , Debesh Roychaudhuri Late Kunal Mitra, Falguni Chatterjee.
  • Directed by :  Sekhar Das
  • Music Director : Indradip Dasgupta, Chirojir (?)
  • Playback Singer: Silajeet Majumdar, Rudraneel Ghosh
  • Producer: Shampa Bhattacharya
  • Story: Nilanjan Chatterjee (CEO and director of Nandan)
  • Cinematography: Premendu Bikash Chaki

Brief Introduction to Kaler Rakhal:

Nandana Sen, daughter of Amartya Sen, went to Shanti Niketan for the shooting of the film. Amartya Sen has a house at Shantiniketan. She is a busy actress in Bollywood today and played a sensuous devdasi for Ketan Mehta. Nandana Sen is playing Aparna Basu, a non-resident Bengali who comes down to shoot a documentary on bohurupis as part of a TV crew from Germany. She comes with her friend and stays with him at his place. In the village she meets Parambrata (Subal) and Rehan (Rudraneel). Parambrata plays Subal Mondal – a village boy who sings, acts and runs errands for political parties. He is a reflection of the changing face of rural India.Parambrata also lost a lot of weight for the film. He does unwanted things in life under pressure such as spending couple of nights at jail accepting wrong accusition for money from local hooligan Tigar. 

The story takes a sharp turn when the local party leader rapes Aparna (Nandana Sen) and later asks Subal to take the criminal charges. He rans away and joins with her sister Sumi (Chandreyee Ghosh). They become very close, may be closer than simple brother-sister relationship. However, the local hooligan Tigar traces Subal and brings him back to the village. Now Subal has to commit suicide to avoid accepting rape charges.

Roopa Ganguly plays a village schoolteacher whose husband was killed as part of a political plot. It appears that Roopa Ganguly is a ‘must have’ factor for Sekhar Das. Roopa Ganguly was seen in earlier movies by Das too. Chandreyee (Ghosh) plays a distant cousin of Parambrata and Rudranil is a young Muslim boy who’s known for playing characters like Radha and Draupadi. Soumitra has a new look in the film and as usual he is brilliant.He plays a man with a lot of worldly knowledge, is someone I admire as a poet, dramatist, stage designer and for his elasticity in adapting to any character.

The movis has multiple comedy scenes as it talks about Bohurupee and also have some good music – a rap, a Rabindrasangeet, and some raga-based songs.

Sekhar Das completes his trilogy with Kaler Rakhal. His earlier film Mehulbonir Sereng was about the Santhal society, Krantikaal was about terrorism in the Northeast

Kaler Rakhal Photogallery

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Please reply and add your own review of the film.

Kaler Rakhal is released in the following Movie Halls In Calcutta/Kolkata

Movie Halls
Fame Hiland Park IV
The Metropolis, Hiland ParkPh:4010-5555. 3.45 pm
Fame6 South City
South City Mall, 375 Prince Anwar Shah RoadPh:4010-5555. 3.30 pm
Inox 3 – City Centre
City Centre, DC Block, Sector I, Salt LakePh:2358-4499. 4.10 pm
RDB Big Cinemas III
RDB Boulevard, 2nd Floor, Plot–K1, Block AP & GP, Sector V , Salt LakePh:3984-6101. 12.30 pm
Star Theatre
79/3/4, Bidhan Sarani Sovabazar Ph:2533-6868. 2.00 pm

More Web Resources about Kaler Rakhal:

  1. Nandana Sen in Shanti Niketan for Kaler Rakhal Shoot
  2. Sekhar Das on Kaler Rakhal

10 thoughts on “Kaaler Rakhal (2009) – Bengali Movie Review

  1. Exclusive Review by Anirban De is coming up shortly.

    How many of you have watched the Nandana Sen starred movie? How do you like the movie? Please guys, share come comments here.

  2. ” Twenty minutes into Kaler Rakhal, you find Bohurupee Taher (Rudranil) in a padded red bra and underwear, taking off his make-up. Taher is told to leave as the pala producer has got an actress to play his roles, Sita and Draupadi. To prove that he is no less of a woman, Taher shakes his hips and thrusts his chest at his employer.” – Kushali Nag at Telegraph

    Read the rest of her review:

    I simply enjoy her sense of humor! Wonderful.

  3. awe-struck…………………..this was the word used by aparna(nandana sen) while she was writing a letter to her mother. i guess the same holds true for viewer like me who always craves for meaningful yet not boaring bengali film but rarely gets such a chance. like his previous films the director here again captures rural bengal like we have never seen or heard before. staying in a so called modern structured life , it was like a fresh breath of air and kudos to the cinematographer for that. rudraneel and nandana were just perfect for their part and to my utter surprise parambrata acted like anything and truely deserves an award. i don’t want to go into the critical details but just want to end by saying that go and watch” kaler rakhal” because it just reflects how self centred ant tolerant we have become and that too for no good reason.

  4. onekdin por emon ekta chobi dekhlam,ja dekhar por koyekta din seta niye bhabte holo.
    je gaan guli byabohar hoyeche, seguli gaoa ebong proyog osadharon sundor. porichalok
    ke dhanyabad, emon ekti sundor chobi upohar debar jonno.actor rudranil o porombrata ke
    jotoi prosonsa kori ,kom hobe. ar onyorao obhinoye opurbo. e kaler prekkhapote, emon ekti
    chobir proyojon chilo. shudhu ami noi, jotojon ei chobi dekheche tader 90% manusher i ei holo
    moner kotha.eirokom chobi aro hok. ar bhondo rajnitik der mukhosh gulo khule jak,bishesh kore
    amader grame grame ei rokom chobir prochar dorkar.

  5. It’s a great cinema with a very important message.Our culture,our own songs,dances,and dramas are extinguishing.Many of us do not khow what is BHAHURUPI and how they earn to drive their family,their lifestyle,simplicity.
    The songs of villages with no added effects has just touched my heart with great pleasure.and the dance of rudronil wearing barmuda and bra may have a great sense of humour that all us loughed at but that was a keen application to stay in his job.
    the rap was great.awsome.

  6. The VCD and DVD of KALER RAKHAL was released on Poila Baisakh of this year. Dont you guys think that this film deserves a NATIONAL AWARD and the jury members have denied the respect that this film deserves……

    Please do comment on the subject.

  7. god, this film is simply breathtaking. this film deserve a national award. parambrata and rudranil is fantastic. congratulation guys. nandana is awesome in her part. but i think i was expecting something much from her. chandrei ghosh is brilliant.. thank you director for giving us a beautiful movie.

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