Retaining 1948 about the time of late 1960s’ - early 70s’, then filmed in 2007 and released in theatres in 2009 –this is the story of making of the film Kaalbela by Goutam Ghose.
The novel written by Samares Majumdar was a part of the trilogy “Uttaradhikar” – “Kaalbela” – “Kaalpurush”. “Kaalbela” was awarded Sahitya Academy Award winner in 1984.
The film “Kaalbela” was initially thought to be a 10 part miniseries for Doordarshan. But a committee decided to make also a shorter version of 2hr 40mins for regular theatre release. So, a 5hrs tele-serial is chopped into half and released.
It is very clear from the format of the film that it is basically made for small screen. Even at times sound boom and light stands could not be avoided for the theatre version. But anyway, these are very very small issues for the very very long film. Even the length was beyond director’s control, because the initial thought was for television.
“Kaalbela” is journey of a North Bengal youth from Teagarden to Kolkata and then ultimately being a Marxist- Leninist political prisoner in jail and ultimately released in 1975 as a half dead person but a Left Front Government.
This is the journey of Animesh (Parambrata Chattopadhyay). This is a purely political novel set in the period Naxalite Movement. The novel was so meticulously and elaborately documented, Goutam Ghose never felt any problem in picturizing the entire period. The only thing he had to keep in mind to design the frame so that the period doesn’t hamper. And Goutam did it excellently. The Scottish Church College verandah, the university gate, the tram, the Coffee House, the Maidan, the Calcutta streets, the Ganga ghat, the by-lanes, the police uniform and their rifles and revolvers, and the costumes of the period – everything are very minutely framed and selected.
During the 10 years journey of Animesh, he met his love Madhabilata (Paoli Dam). Though Madhabilata had no faith in this politics, she loved Animesh because he believes in some ideology. Inspite of the class difference Madhabilata continued her love during the war time leaving her home. She even once went to Bolpur with Animesh when Animesh first saw the politics of “Khatam”. His mentor Subashda (Shantilal Mukherjee) shoot a police spy in the Bolpur river bed. In Bolpur Animesh and Madhabilata come close physically. And ultimately with out marrying Animesh she gave birth to her child. When Animesh was in jail MAdhabilata took a school mistress job and started living in a “Basti” with her son Arka. And finally when half dead Animesh was released from jail Madhabilata took Animesh to her “basti” home and introduced Arka with his father. In that respect “Kaalbela” is a film about love also.
Goutam in his shorter version kept important characters like Sarit Sekhar, ‘Dadu’ of Animesh (Soumitra Chatterjee) and Mohitosh, Father of Animesh (Satya Mukherjee). These two character had immense importance in the life of Animesh.
Animesh’s Calcutta wife was in mess and his room mate was Tridip, a wannabe poet who ultimately joined their politics feeling only the romanticism and ultimately died when shot by a police in an encounter. Tridip is played by Rudranil Ghosh so far the best characterization he had done till date.
Parambrata and Paoli are excellent in the role of Animesh and Madhabilata.