Purna Brahmo Shree Shree Harichand (2011)-Bengali Movie Review

Ramaprasad Banik, Monu MukherjeeApril 14, 2011 (Calcutta Tube): Purna Brahmo Shree Shree Harichand is 2011 Bengali movie directed by Monoj Thakur with Firdaus, Manoj Mitra, Dulal Lahiri, Monu Mukherjee, Ramaprasad Banik and others in the cast. Read the Bengali film review at Calcutta Tube.

PURNA BRAHMO SHREE SHREE  HARICHAND – INFORMATIVE

Producer: Partha Chatterjee

Direction and Music: Monoj Thakur

Cinematography: Bijoy Anand

Editing: Asit Bose

Cast: Firdaus, Manoj Mitra, Dulal Lahiri, Monu Mukherjee, Satinath Mukherjee, Amrita Chatterjee, Papiya Adhikari, Ramaprasad Banik

Playback: Kumar Sanu, Alka Yagnik, Kavita Krishnamurthi, Swapan Basu, Pramita Barui, Kajal Biswas and Sudip Pandey

Date of release: March 25 2011

Rating: 04/10

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The commercial and critical success of Moner Manush has triggered a positive impact on making biographical films on other little-known religious and social reformers. Purna Brahmo Shree Shree Harichand Thakur is an example of perpetuating information about a man who rose to found the Matua sect and spread the message of humanity across the country and beyond. The Matuas are said to be nomosudras who are Dalits and migrated from Bangladesh. His original name was Sri Harichand Biswas. His family was believed to be belonging to Gautama Clan.

Harichand Thakur (1811-1877) was a Hindu.  He was born in Orakandi of Kashiani Upazila in Gopalganj (Greater Faridpur) on the thirteenth day of Falgun 1214 of the Bangla calendar. The word ‘matua’ means to be absorbed or remain absorbed in meditation, specifically in the meditation of the divine. The Matuas are found in Bangladesh and West Bengal. Their principal temple is at Orakandi in Gopalganj, where a fair is held every year on the 13th day of the lunar month in Falgun, on the birth anniversary of Harichand Thakur. Thousands of devotees from all over the country gather on the occasion, bringing rice, lentils, and vegetables as token of their devotion and love. His parents, Jashwant and Annuparna were devoout followers of Vishnu. As a small boy, he was teased and ridiculed by many people he wiped out with the power of his magic. He spread the message of peace and love among people and considers all human being to be equal irrespective of his caste, creed or social status. Even if he had a few people who were against him, they all become his followers as he wins them over a period of time.

Harichand Thakur is said to be one of the greatest social reformers in Bengal .He carried out his mission among the subaltern population .Later people from all sections, irrespective of caste and creed or religion joined him to make it a great success. Be it Catholic Missionaries or Hindus or followers of the Brahmo community, everyone acknowledges his contribution in the Bengal Renaissance among the poor and marginalised people. He started his mission with a view to spread education and create self-respect among these people and at the same time he insisted on removing social discriminations. Harichand received little formal education. After completing his initial schooling in a pathshala, he attended school for only a few months. He then started spending his time with shepherds and cowboys.

 

The film is a straightforward, descriptive unfolding of the life and teachings of Sri Sri Harichand Thakur portrayed well by Bangladesh star Firdaus who performance is somewhat marred by the very artificial wig he is made to wear. The acting cast is comprised of illustrious names from Bengali cinema and though they play cameos, they add to the USP of this unusual commercial film. The film is filled with bytes of information about the community such as the belief that there is no disparity between the male and the female, discouraging early marriage and encouraging as well as allowing widow remarriage. They refer to their religious teachers as gonsai a position that allows access to women too.  Wednesday is the day of communal worship for the Matuas.

 

The film explores the way Harichand Thakur wins over his severest of critics through his magic powers and one such miracle goes to the extent to show how he could bring the dead back to life and can cure incurable diseases by the power of his touch. One is not sure whether this is a stretching of imagination but it provides entertainment of some kind in a devout film. When he and his followers chant Hari Bol Hari Bol together rising to a crescendo, even bad men back off. The film explains that Harichand is the human incarnation of Lord Vishnu. Had the editing been a bit crisper instead of being so slow and lengthy, the film would have been much more entertaining than it is. Amrita Chatterjee is quite good as his wife.

 

Through the teachings of Harichand Thakur, the film explores the theories the Matuas follow. The Matua sec is monotheist and is not committed to Vedic rituals. Their way of worship is singing hymns in order to pray and meditate. They believe that salvation lies in faith and devotion. Their objective is to attain truth through meditation and worship. They believe that love is the only way to God. The Matuas do not distinguish between man and man on grounds of caste, creed, or class. They believe that everyone is a child of God.

 

Shree Shree Harichand Thakur is by no means a great film. Not many will crowd around to watch it as its release has been very low-key and marketing was zero. But its music and songs remain one of the high points of the film. The film has Matua Sangit or spiritual songs of the Matua sect composed in praise of their god Hari and their gurus, Harichand Thakur and Guruchand. The content of the film provides information and education though the entertainment element could have done with better editing, more authentic art direction, and a faster narrative pace.

Shoma A Chatterji

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