Mahesweta Devi is an author whose novels are centred around tribals and their lives. Basically she is a champion activist for the oppressed and down trodden whose novels have won many awards. Her novels earlier have been made into films, but this is the first time that she is acting in a film based on her story.
Ullas which is about 3 stories from 3 states in India at three points of time , is shown through the eyes of a reporter (Satabdi Roy) who narrates the chain of events and expresses her point of view.
If the first story is Kanna, an aspiring police constable who rises from the dead on the way to the morgue after collapsing while appearing for a physical test and starts running stark naked , looking for his roots and ends his run at the foot of an ancient mahua tree, the second story is about a site in Maharashtra where the Korkus(a tribal group) falls prey to the sickle cell syndrome and a Korku by the name of Mahadu is experimented upon by a medical centre which leaves him abnormal in growth and energy and as a result Mahadu flees from the clinic and lands up in Mumbai destroying everything that comes across his way till he comes across the teak forests, his original homeland. The third story is set in Medinipur where Anna is exploited by Dikpal,a rich wood merchant and she takes her revenge by castrating him and running away, a sort of magic is created as they come to life and shelter people like Anna and drive out all others who have exploited the natural resources and the tribals so far.
The three stories all seem to evolved around magic and it is as if the director wants the magic to spread and wake up the adminstration. The concept is indeed interesting . However if the story would not been told through the eyes through the journalist, but would have been allowed to just flow, maybe it would have been different. However for most the story telling might be a little confusing and specially the first story where the format seems to be a non linear format. The film seems to be more like a documentary rather than an actual film and Maheswata Devi somehow seems to be out of place in the film. Her presence wasn’t required. Newcomer Amit Das as Kanna, an aspiring tribal who fails to become a police constable in spite of his sincere efforts and even in his death he wants to pursue the cause for tribals and succeed shows promise and even appears naked(including a full frontal nude scene, one of the first instances in Bengali films), but perhaps the star of the film is another newcomer Sadhana Hazra as Anna, a strong,determined and fiery tribal who is complete command of herself and will take on anyone in the entire world whoever might try to get fresh with her. Her looks, expressions and body language is just about right and it is surprising that she is a newcomer. The film is a little slow, however the efforts of the producer Sankar Sarkar and the director Ishwar Chakrabarty should be appreciated for making a film.