FIRST LOOK – GAUTAM GHOSE’S MONER MANUSH: Bengali movie Moner Manush is now complete. Few Bengali filmmakers have tread on the delicate and somewhat controversial territory of the Baul tradition. Filmmaker Gautam Ghose has done it.

FIRST LOOK – GAUTAM GHOSE’S MONER MANUSH: Bengali movie Moner Manush is now complete. Few Bengali filmmakers have tread on the delicate and somewhat controversial territory of the Baul tradition. Filmmaker Gautam Ghose has done it. If reports are to be believed, and the total commitment Prosenjit who plays Lalon Phokir, the protagonist has put in, is probed deeply, then Moner Manush is a film to be looked forward to for overlapping many genres of contemporary cinema where genre is the bottom line.

Moner Manush -Prosenjit as Baul Singer
Moner Manush -Prosenjit as Baul Singer

Moner Manush Bengali Film - Prosenjit
Moner Manush Bengali Film - Prosenjit

It is an approximate biographical account of that Baul of Bauls, Lalon Phokir, probably born in 1774 in the part of Nadia district now in Kushtia, Bangladesh. He died in 1890. He composed 1000 songs of which just 600 can be traced. Lalon rejected the division of society into communities, protesting and satirizing religious fundamentalisms of all kinds. It is also an ethnographical film as it traces the anthropological and cultural history of this ethnic sect of wandering minstrels, the Bauls of Bengal who spread their progressive and secular faith through their song and music. It can be defined as a historical film as it spans a period and a geography Indian cinema has not mapped the way it has been mapped in this film. It is also informative and educational because it sheds light on a little-known sect, on their unique ideology and lifestyle and their resurrection in modern times through cinema, theatre, literature and so on. Moner Manush is contemporary and topical as it talks of peace, harmony and peaceful tolerance of all faiths at a time when India is ridden by fundamentalist pockets and intolerant groups across its expanse.

Moner Manush Bengali Movie starring Prosenjit
Moner Manush Bengali Movie starring Prosenjit

The film can also be categorized as a musical because, “it has 32 songs that form part of the verbal interaction between and among the characters,” says Gautam Ghose. “There are no notations for Lalon’s songs. That is what pushed me to Lalon’s village Kushtia in Bangladesh, to find out about the notations. I adapted songs that were sung by the existing Phokirs there. Latif Shah and Khuda Baksh have rendered the playback for Lalon in my film. Shahzad Firdous has written the lyrics. Farida Parveen, the famous Bangladeshi singer, has lent her voice to the single dance number lip-synced on screen by Paoli Dam,” adds Ghose. Paoli plays Komli, a young widow who takes shelter in Lalon’s akhra in Simultala. “Playing Komli has been a learning experience. It was difficult to walk with a pitcher brimming with water. It was tougher walking up the bamboo steps to the river. Komli has a relationship with Lalon. Once, on a cold December morning, I had to take a dip in the river Bania and walk along a cobbled forest track with the pitcher resting on one hip,” says Paoli who is on the fast track to success in all kinds of films in Bengali cinema today. On the first day of their Bangladesh schedule, while they were travelling towards Sunamganj, their mini-bus hit an auto and her mother and hair-dresser Kalpana Pradhan got hurt. “I was in a daze during the first few days of the shoot because I was crazy with worry,” adds Paoli.

Moner Manush Bengali Film by Gautam Ghose
Moner Manush Bengali Film by Gautam Ghose

Says Prosenjit who went into a kind of professional sanyas for five months in preparation for the role of Lalon, “My involvement with the character has changed my world-view and my philosophy. I have learnt that under the apparent restive spirit and wandering, under his repertoire of spiritual songs he composed, lay the basic philosophy of humanity Lalon held above everything else. They did have female consorts but it was just like a basic biological desire like hunger for food. Lalon believed that emotional ties would take him away from his ultimate destination, finding oneness with the Almighty. It took some time for me to come back to ground level after I came back.” Golam Phokir, a Nadia-based Baul who has played a cameo in the film, also doubled up as Prosenjit’s trainer in this unusual role. “I taught him to play the ektara and dance like the Bauls,” he says with a smile peeping out from his grey beard.

Bangladeshi actor Chanchal who is from theatre, plays Lalon’s friend Kalua in Moner Manush. Zeeshan from Bangladesh plays the teenaged Lalon. Others in the acting cast are Champa, Tathoi and Raisul Islam Azad from Bangladesh. Moner Manush is set against the early 19th to the 20th century. It begins with Lalon as a teenager who leaves home, to when he is in his 50s, and then the 45-50 age-span ending with when he is very old. Bibi Russell, the internationally renowned fashion designer who has tuned the homely gamchha into a fashion statement, has done the costumes for Moner Manush along with Gautam’s wife Nilanjana. “This is my first film project. I have given Prosenjit khadi kurta and dhoti that he wraps around like a lungi. I have given him a tulsi mala, a gift I received from a Baul I knew, as a lucky mascot for the film,” informs Bibi.

The Chilapata forests in North Bengal, a four-hour drive from Jalpaiguri covered the schedule in the Indian part of the locations. The scenes here were shot along the banks of the Bania River. Samir Chanda, who has won the National Award for Best Art Direction several times, created an akhra with some thatched huts and three houses. “The most challenging part of my designing for this film was getting the right props. We had a tough time finding a sarinda, a now extinct musical instrument the Bauls played on. To recreate the architecture of Lalan’s time was another challenge. There were almost no frames of reference so we had to rely on whatever little was available and rest had to be done from imagination. A project like Moner Manush does not attract me for the money or the budget constraints we have to work in compared to the budgets in Bollywood. It attracts me for the special kick I get out of working in these films.”

Ghose expects to release the film, a joint venture of Rose Valley Productions of India and Ashirbad Films of Bangladesh, by the end of April in Bangladesh and India. The film is a loose adaptation of Sunil Gangopadhyay’s Moner Manush But Ghose has invested it with his personal perspectives too.

By  Shoma A. Chatterji

36 thoughts on “MONER MANUSH (2010) Bengali Film FIRST LOOK

  1. Dear Mr Ghoshe
    its interesting to note that somebody is finally making a film on the bauls and their art … and of course Lallan Fakir!
    All the more heartening to know taht it is made by the maker of the visually stirring and immensely cinematic Padma Nadir Majhi.
    how and when does one see your film?
    also, would you know Harry Matthews who has made a short and also documented many Bauls, their expression and their lifestyle down Bengal and Bangledesh (his documentary is also titled Moner Manush)? Am looking for the DVD of the same as well.
    Thanks and warm regards

  2. Shri Gautam Ghose,

    It is being said that “The film is a loose adaptation of Sunil Gangopadhyay’s Moner Manush”. I protest for the words “loose adaptation”.

    We, the common people are yet to watch the movie and waiting with high expectation.

    However, most of us, common men and folk music lovers, though heard of Lalan from our boy-hood days, got a special attraction to Lalan’s life and phiosophy after reading Sunil Gangopadhyay’s Moner Manush in Puja number of “Desh” two years ago.

    If the film becomes a great winner of the heart of us it will be silent win of Sunil also.

    Whatever may be the difference between your screenplay and Sunil’s writing, he will be always remain as a lighthose who first directed us to Lalan’s music and philosophy in our life.

    1. I simply love Baul songs & much interested for its source, originality & history. Thanks to filmmaker Gautam Ghose for the film. It is a pleasant news that the film has won the Golden Peacock at the 41st International Film Festival of India (IFFI) on 2nd December, 2010. Please convey my heartiest congratulaion to the complete team of ‘Moner Manush’.

      Awaiting eagerly to watch the film.

  3. I am eager to see “Mordern and matured Prosenjeet” and Gautam Ghose pair on the scree.Its being a awaited movie.

    Very Best of Luck.


  4. To Sri Gautam Ghose:It’s one of the films we are looking forward to.I hope it will be released even beyond Bengal so that we,the probashi Bengalees,can also watch it. But I would just say one thing,i.e., Kolkata’s Tollywood film makers & producers should not show much interest to co-produce with Bangladeshi producers as I believe though this trend will give the much needed oxygen to the morbid Bangladeshi film industry,it won’t do much good to Kolkata’s Tollywood. Tollywood can expand it’s market by doing some aggressive marketing in the media and releasing Bangla films in the other Indian states for the Probashi Bengalee audience & even in other countries in Europe, America,Australia,etc. like Bollywood films do.Tollywood can also take its cue from South Indian films which are regularly released elsewhere at times with subtitles and at times they are dubbed in other languages.And of course one must keep on urging Bangladesh to allow Kolkata films to be released there which was stopped since 1965 when they were part of Pakistan.A few years back though Pakistan has again allowed Bollywood films to be released there, Bangladesh hasn’t done anything of that kind,rather they had resisted any such move.Many of the Bangladeshi(BD)actors like Razzak who regularly works in Kolkata,many of their film makers, artists and intellectuals are very much anti Kolkata,anti West Bengal and spearheaded the movement not to allow West Bengali films or books into their country.This has lead to widespread piracy as there is a huge demand in Bangladesh for West Bengali books as well as films.Many of us who are born and brought up in India had our ancestral homes in erstwhile East Bengal (eg. mine was at Faridpur)and hence we tend to get very emotional/nostalgic/ sentimental when the issue of Bangladesh crops up.But the same feeling is not reciprocated by the BD people & their media unlike ours.I regularly read BD newspapers as well as Indian bangla newspapers on the website and also visit some of the BD blogs like Sachalayatan, Somewhereblogin, Collegecadets to know what they feel about India,W.Bengal, Kolkata, etc.& I found them to spew venom and all sorts of misinformations against the bengalees of Kolkata & West Bengal.Of late they are trying to see to it that BD TV channels are shown in the Indian terrirory and spreading the misinformation that West Bengal govt. has banned BD TV channels in West Bengal though we know this is not at all the case.According to the rules BD must fulfill some conditions(other countries like Pakistan or Nepal also do that)to telecast their programmes in India.So why does BD want any special treatment here when they are not ready to give any special treatment to West Bengal?They know that the rest of India looks down on them but West Bengal is quite soft on them and they want to reap some advantages out of it.They might not have the guts to take on the rest of India but they know they can resist or bully or coax W.Bengal as we(and even our media) are so soft on them.Anyway,I don’t think we(our films) will gain much by collaborating with BD except for Swapan Saha like directors who is himself a Bangladeshi import or Beder Meye Jyotsna or Baba Keno Chakor type films(a few good films they too might have made but that’s hardly anything/ quite negligible) whereas they can gain a lot from us though they won’t be grateful for that in the future.Our film makers,intellectuals and poets perhaps should think twice before going so ga ga over them.We might take pride on being too liberal and open minded but we must learn from the Bangladeshis how to protect self-interests and establish our own rights and spread our market elsewhere.So long we have fought for others’ rights(for which we are not getting any prizes) & forgot to see where our interests or benefits lie.Thus we have lost everything-our country(East Bengal),land,property, money, resources, industries and so on. It’s high time we should stand up for our own rights and begin to assert ourselves.Otherwise we stand to lose the remaining things we have.Let Tollywood be more tough like B’wood and find out ways and means to sustain itself and expand itself by exploring other territories of India and the world till Bangladesh (like Pakistan has allowed B’wood films)is forced to allow to release West Bengal’s films in their country.

  5. Congratulation to the “Moner Manush” family for having bagged the best film award in the 41st Goa Film Festival. This is the year of Bengali Movies.Proud to be a Bangali. Goutam Babu, we expect more.

  6. Watched the movie today. Prasenjit has given his hundred percent and is at his best. The movie is basically biopic musical. Good cinematography. However the second half of the movie is little boring. It is rightly said that an artist sometimes doesn’t know where to put a fullstop. I also felt that Paoli doesn’t fit the picture. Her look and body language is too modern for the surrounding.

  7. I am also a probashi. I do not want Indian movies should have free access to Bangladesh theaters. Whatever Pakistan does is their business. There are valid reasons “to be anti Kolkata”. Bangladesh should not be considered as market place of Kolkata products.
    I find each and every one in Kolkata speaks in bengahndi (or Hinbangla). Most of the spoken words in Bengali transformed into Hindi. Sorry to say in another fifty years it will be totally Hindi.
    Kolkata should not be bollywood ground either! But that is your internal affairs, not ours!
    Kolkata writers count days for publish in Dhaka. That is for books, oh no we cannot allow films that free access!

  8. Though I have not seen the movie yet, still very curious to see Prosenjit’s screen appearance…hope he’ll do well. Trailer appears to be picturesque and too much polished…unlike the character to be portrayed in film…let’s see the movie first!

  9. We have enjoyed the show at IFFI Goa INOX. It is fantastic in all respect. All round performances from Director and others are praiseworthy. Especially when class of bengali movies are unavailable current days. Thanks to Ghosh and Prosenjit!

  10. So see 4 urself d comment of this Safi from Bangladesh.The cat is out of the bag.They want all kinds of advantages but they would be perennially jealous of us.They still can’t overcome their inferiority complex.If they want to be a permanent enemy,no problem.But we,on this side of the border,need to be more cautious and think twice b4 giving them any find of advantages.We may become mushy and sentimental about them simply coz they are Bengalees but they don’t reciprocate the feelings at all.

  11. I agree with u cinefan. Do they have anything of their own? Empty vessels sound much. Even their freedom from Pakistanis wouldn’t have been possible without our help. Absolutely shameless talking like that. Safi mon r matha saf koro, don’t cross ur limit.

  12. O Jrd,u have just seen only Safi’s reaction. Let me tell u this is nothing.This is just the tip of the iceberg.Just visit their bangla blogs( or or Cadetcollegeblog)or read some of their newspapers on the net(if u have the time)and u will get a taste of their jealousy,enmity,hatred towards us and their selfishness. And how they twist the facts and misinform people.This happens may be coz we ourselves r not so united and we r too soft and gentle. Hence we have become the favourite punch bag for so many communities though we have been so tolerant,liberal & forgiving throughuout.If I speak like them,I will be heavily censured by my own people.I personally believe if we remain this way,others will start dancing on our head.They have already started dancing.We won’t lose anything if we don’t collaborate with them as they(BD)cannot add any value or quality to our work,rather we can add quality to their work for which they won’t thank us and would be perennially abusive in spite of everything.As far as the market is concerned,if the Bengalees of West Bengal and India show their loyalty to both commercial and arthouse films made in Tollywood,Kolkata film industry would definitely thrive.And then the market in other countries can also be explored. And our media should stop swooning over Bangladesh simply coz it had been the ancestral home for some of us.The number of people who had to leave East Bengal or East Pakistan or Bangladesh had been far more than the people who had to leave West Bengal.Still they would abuse us all the time.But if some of our people who had their ancestral homes in East Bengal become famous/win worldwide acclaim/international prizes,they won’t hesitate to claim them as their own just to share the glory.Thus they claim Satyajit Ray(he had never been to BD), Suchitra Sen,etc. as their own.LOL!In their desperate bid to snatch glory they had dragged the ailing Kazi Nazrul Islam also to their own country.U have said rightly- they don’t have anything of their own.Hence they resort to such desperate bids.But we should not be complacent any more.We should wake up, otherwise we would continue to be used as doormat by all.Look around- even the Assamese,South Indians,Maharashtrians and perhaps every other community apart from us are more aggressive and more assertive and know to protect their self interests.Whereas we don’t have the guts even to defend ourselves and often chop the branch on which we sit.If others attack us,we won’t lodge any counterattack but our intellectuals and media would start defending the ones who attack us and canvass for them.

  13. hi all

    please dont make any cotroversy. As a Moromi kobi “Moner Manush ” has been made by prominent director Goutam ghosh,produced by India n Bangladesh .Lalon is our asset we love his song .So Moner Manush is friutful by some people of two more controversy.

    thanks all


  14. Firstly thanks to Goutom Gosh. just today i have watch the film Moner Manus. I have some comments. The starting of the film very nice but at middle i found something erroneous. I thing u have successfully represent the character of Shiraj Shai. but the song placement in sequence is not perfect. e.g. The song Pakhi kokhon jeno ure… jay is not perfect placement. I think the co artist (Shisho) of Lalon is not perfect. You may have attached Some Baul. I have unable to find the respect that have to illustrate to GURU Lalon. “Shadhon Songini” them that u shown isn’t the ideal philosophy of Lalon. Generally it becomes a easy them. You should carry out the “Veg Khalafot” which can create a methodical manner of Baul. I have not capable to find the “Je Murshid Shai to Rasul Khoda o Sha Hoy…” Its give me very distress that u have use the song “Akash ta kapsilo ken…” which is not written or published at that time. Anyway be a lover of ODHIN LALON i just accept more from You thus Its the second film of Lalon. pls. forgive me for my comments. “Sha ki samanno chora dorbi kona kanchite…”

    Odhin, Dhaka, bangladesh.
    Facebook id- Odhin Lalon

  15. “Moner Manush is contemporary and topical as it talks of peace, harmony and peaceful tolerance of all faiths at a time when India is ridden by fundamentalist pockets and intolerant groups across its expanse.”

    The above is qouted from the article, I think same expression was conveyed by director Goutam Ghosh. So please don’t spew communal venom here for no reason,it reflects a sick mind.

    1. Mr. abul K. i just comment on thr movie of Monoer Manush. u just told about sick mind. u just express the voice of the movie but i have want to say that some major condition/rules just escaped. i m odhin. dou u know what the meaning of ODHIN?

  16. A film is usually larger than life. A film director has every liberty to change here and there for the sake of making a cinema. So picking up small things and criticizing the golden peacock winner is not fair.

  17. After a long time,saw a movie which made me think twice regarding my conception regarding Bengali movies.Who says there are no good movie makers nowadays.My million thanks and congratulations to the director and pray to God to help you create more legends like “MONER MANUSH”

  18. aj boita dekhlam………. osadharon…
    sotti bolchhi khub darun film…..
    lalon somporke beshi janina… kintu boita dekhar por jante ichhe korchhe…love it..
    film kotha sotti manle ato war jhamela ar thake na… film er koekta muhurto lokeder just kadiye dite pare… darun darun…
    bubma da, goutam da… awesome work….

  19. I saw Moner Manush yesterday and will see it again tomorrow; and now I am reading the comments on this website. I am deeply moved by both the films and the comments. I feel there is a Lalon Fakir in each of us, and the film along with the people’s reaction to it invites us to allow the Lalon and the moner manush in each and all of us to sing in increased awareness and joy. Thanks to Gautomda. Gaston Roberge, dijwa manush.

  20. Enjoyed watching the movie tremendously. The theme of the mystic’s life and philosophy combined with the superb cinematography made it a remarkable experience. Prasenjit’s acting was superb and this goes once again to prove how good our actors are when they are in the hands of competent film directors and not with the ones making films like “Baba keno Chakor” etc etc. One comment i would like to make is that didn’t like the rendition of some of Lalon Fakir’s songs by the male singer…he was off tune (besura) in some of them. Probably a better singer could have been used. However, it seems the director has intentionally used a singer with a earthy voice rather than using a more accomplished singer.

  21. I had heard on Lalan Fakir of Bongodesh, and listened songs, sang by Loka geeti expert Sree Amar Pal.

    I am also a fan of Tagore, Najrul, Dijendra and Atul Prasad.

    It is really difficult to compare them on the same platform as each are unique.

    On TV and other places I see many popular intellectuals speaks that with out Tagore, Bengali literature become an insignificant and value addition with out Tagore is Zero.

    This mail is addressed to such intellectuals who are in fact Pseudo, they have shallow knowledge. I ask them How much they know about Bengali and Bengali Civilization? Let them give me a reply to my mailat “”.

    Lalan Fakir no comparison, The movie , in all respect, in all the fields, Acting, Direction, Music, Song , Singers, beyond any unit of measure. One one Word “ANABADYA”.
    I dont know, how the concept came, how each of the player was choosen, whether it is actor, or singer, or music director, or director.
    There are many philosophers, thinkers, who had made Bengalis to be proud through their contribution towards Bengali Civilization.
    I wish and do hope that Bangladesh and West bengal Govt jointly institute a dept. only to find out such lost personalities of Bengal and may make movies for the knowledge of common Bengalis about their lost civilization and glorious plople.

    Once again Thanks to entire team of “Moner Manush”.

    Dr. KK Debnath (

  22. After watching the film I am touched with the performance of Prosenjit. He has done a splendid job to portray Lalon, the great baul of all times who dared to reject the common belief of cast system in the then society.Lalon is relevant even today and can be portrayed as an ambassador for peace and harmony for this world of chaos.

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