Vol. 5 Num 368 Fri. June 10, 2005  

Silver Screen
Nacholer Rani
The uncrowned queen of the Santals

I grew up listening to the legends of rebellious Ila Mitra, who championed the cause of the indigenous Santals. I was brought up in the area where she spent many years of her life and this was the driving force behind making the film," says the director of Nacholer Rani, Syed Wahiduzzaman Diamond.

Under the banner of Pankouri and based on the life of the courageous Ila Mitra, Diamond is making the film Nacholer Rani. He has developed the script and has designed the set and costumes for the film as well. Shahana Shumi, a promising actress, will play the protagonist while Kajol Majumder, Rabiul Islam, Afsana Rahman, Sajjad, Ripon and Tapon will enact other roles. About 450 Santals and 250 policemen have also performed in the film.

The story of Nacholer Rani runs like this: In 1950 a woman took up the cause of the Santals. She was married to a zamindar of Ramchandrapur in Nachol. But leaving her lavish and secure life behind, she fought for the Santals, who were often ill-treated by people of her own social status. For her dedication to their cause, she attained recognition as an uncrowned queen and was given the title Rani-ma (Queen mother), by the Santals. This courageous woman was Ila Mitra.

About casting new artistes in the film, Diamond says, "I had to take the risk; without taking risks nobody can succeed in any venture. The artistes have always followed my directions without any hesitation. It was like molding figures out of clay."

Diamond adds, "I had to work with the entire crew for months in the remote places. Popular artistes can't give that much time." The shooting was held in remote areas of Nachol, such as Chandipur, Rawtara Kendua, Gheshua and Nawabganj: the places associated with Ila Mitra.

Diamond says, "I have always worked with the people who were deprived and whose heritage is endangered, as for instance, the indigenous people in Barendra area."

Diamond had been developing the script for the last seven years. As he says, "I wanted to do justice to this film and want it to be my best production. I have prepared myself for the film and went over to those historic places where Ila fought for her people."

Akhtar Hossain, who has also worked in films such as Hathat Brishti, Aguner Poroshmoni and Nolok, does the cinematography for the film. Diamond has used three songs in the film, one with courtesans' dance, one is of Santals and the final one is a song of rebellion: written by Diamond and composed by Imon Shaha. Two new comers Ivana and Anima De Costa are the playback singers.