Director: Tapan Sinha; Writer: Tapan Sinha, Rupadarshi (aka Gour Kishore Ghosh); Producer: Ruma Ganguly, Mini Kapur; Cinematographer: Bimal Mukherjee; Cast: Dilip Kumar, Saira Banu, Sumita Sanyal, Swaroop Datta, Ajitesh Bannerjee, Bhanu Bannerjee, Rudraprasad Sengupta, Chinmoy Roy, Kumar Roy, T.A. Liddell, Romi Choudhury, Anil Chatterjee
Summary: Sinha’s anti-Communist tract, set in 1942-3, comments on the controversial years of the Left movement by setting up the larger than life ‘man of the people’ Sagina Mahato (D. Kumar) against both a corrupt colonial industry and a Communist party willing to compromise and manipulate its most committed members. Sagina, a large-hearted, hard drinking guardian of the people as well as of the workers of the British-owned railway factory on the Himalayan foothills, is wooed by an unnamed Left trade union based in Calcutta. He agrees to become a labour welfare officer and to move to Calcutta where he becomes a pawn in a larger power struggle within the union, an allusion to the 1940s differences between the P.C. Joshi and B.T. Ranadive factions of the CPI. The militant ‘fascist fanatic’ Aniruddh (Chatterjee) splits from his leader (A. Bannerjee) to pursue a career based, it would appear, entirely on manipulating Sagina’s charismatic hold over his people. The film’s story is told through a series of flashbacks within a framing narrative that shows Aniruddh and his comrades, dressed in military fatigues, conducting a peoples’ court in a forest. Much of the film depends on Dilip Kumar’s star presence to get its message across. The story followed the Bengali literary tradition of showing charismatic popular leaders being destroyed by an impersonal and exploitative Party machinery (cf. Samaresh Bose’s novel Mahakaler Rather Ghora, 1977, about Naxalite tribal leader Jangal Santhal). The original writer of Sagina Mahato, Ghosh, is a well known anti-Communist writer and the film was offered as an allegory for Bengal in the 70s.