Director: Mrinal Sen; Writer: Mrinal Sen, Gopal Chhotaray, Kalindi Charan Panigrahi, Gopal Chatray; Producer: Babulal Doshi; Cinematographer: Sailaja Chatterjee; Editor: Gangadhar Naskar; Cast: Sarat Pujari, Prashanta Nanda, Ram Mania, Sujata, Dukhiram Sain, Bhim Singh, Kartick Ghosh, Bhanumathi, Snehalata, Meera
Summary: Story: Kalindi Charan Panigrahi’s novel (1930).
Sen’s only feature in Oriya, based on a major Oriya novel, tries to elaborate a new way of representing rural India. The director wrote his script and dialogues in Bengali, first translating them into Oriya, then adapting and modifying the text during the shooting on advice from the actors and the local villagers. Set in a small Orissa village in the late 30s as WW2 breaks out and the Indian economy is neglected in favour of the war effort, the film contrasts different attitudes, exemplified by two brothers, Baraju (Pujari) and Chakkadi (Nanda), to tradition and modernity, an important debate within nationalist politics at the time. Sen’s film was criticised for its symbolic imagery and for bringing a ‘Communist’ angle to the Gandhian fable (referred to via the elder brother’s character), but it remains a pioneering attempt to inscribe a rural world into history, divesting it of both nostalgia and idealisation. Produced by Oriya’s main producer Doshi, Pujari and Nanda later became the top male stars in the language.