Vol. 5 Num 1050 Wed. May 16, 2007  

'Nacholer Rani' acclaimed in Kolkata

Based on the tumultuous years (early 1950s) of Ila Mitra's life, Nacholer Rani, directed by Syed Wahiduzzaman Diamond was released in theatres in Bangladesh last year (June 30).

Ila was a veteran communist leader in the subcontinent. She was popularly known as 'Nacholer Rani', as the landless peasants and Santals christened her as their uncrowned queen for her altruistic contribution to the 'Tebhaga Movement'.

The film drew national and international attention when the Bangladesh Film Censor Board demanded that certain scenes be removed. The Censor Board also declared that permission from the Indian Government was needed as Ila was elected four times as a member of the West Bengal Assembly between 1967 and 1978. The film eventually got the green signal from the Censor Board in early 2006.

"The 'Santal Rebellion' took place in Chapinawabganj where I'm originally from and I've heard these stories since childhood. All actors in the film are newcomers and belong to different theatre groups. Ramin Mitra is played by Saif Ripon; Ila Mitra is acted by Shahana Shumi; Azhar's role is played by Kajal Majumdar; Horek is played by M M Morshed," says Diamond. He felt that by using new faces the historical characters would appear more real.

In his next film, titled Ganga Jatra, Diamond will be dealing with a family of Dome (a caste that has been discriminated against for ages). The family story is interwoven with the life of a sex worker. Poppy, Ferdous, Shimla and others will be acting in it.

Nacholer Rani was recently shown at Kolkata and Mrinal Sen attended the screening, among other dignitaries. The screening was to mark 60 years of Indo-Russia friendship and it was shown at Gorky Sadan. "Mrinal Sen sat through the entire film, as he found the presentation of the information quite remarkable," says an ecstatic Diamond.

The filmmaker received an ivory statue as an award at the event.

Syed Wahiduzzaman Diamond (L) with Mrinal Sen