We all love a good film with a great story. But when the story is real hard truth, the film takes a different dimension. It becomes more than just entertainment – it becomes a retelling of reality.
Retelling a true story in a film is not an easy task. Facts and features have to get dramatized for presentation. However that does not diminish the blaze of the true events in any way.
Here are some well known Bengali films that are based on real life events. Perhaps you already know some of them.
Sagina Mahato is a tea estate labourer in the north eastern hills of India. Based in the pre-independence era, nobody dares to stand up and complain against the tyrannies of the British employers. But Sagina Mahato gathers his courage and becomes their leader.
Sagina Mahato was a hit film made in 1970 by Tapan Sinha. It cast the famous Hindi cinema actors Dilip Kumar and Saira Banu, the only Bengali film to do so. The story is based on true events with some dramatization for commercial presentation. It was also remade as the Hindi film Sagina.
Antony Firingee is a musical drama film based on the life of Portuguese Hensman Anthony. Antony travelled to India and fell in love with the folk songs and music of Bengal. He started to love Bengal as his own motherland. He also married Saudamini, a Hindu widow.
But although Antony had won hearts of the artists with his music and dedication, he could protect himself against the dark orthodoxy thoughts that had plagued the land in that age. His wife is eventually burnt to death as Antony wanted to hold a Durga Puja which was considered blasphemy by the then dominating Brahmins.
What is different in the film than the real events is that although Antony faced the odds of the society, his wife and he lived happy lives and died natural deaths.
This 1962 National Award winning classic is based on the life Sarat Chandra Pandit, also lovingly called as Dadathakur. This film was made in the lifetime of the master, particularly focusing on his constructive attitude that led to the change of the society. The lead was played by the legendary Chhabi Biswas and it was also his last film.
Another Tapan Sinha classic, Atanka is a chilling tale of a teacher who witnesses a murder. Based on the events of a true story, Soumitra Chattopadhyay plays the role of the teacher who happens to see the killing done by his own former students. The culprits warn him of dire consequences against his family and on his own life if he reports the events.
The film is a hard hitting story of this teacher struggling to balance his conscience and truth. At last, against all odds he raises his courage to get these goons to justice.
This is probably one of the most interesting films that is ever made on a true story. Not only is it one of the most famous roles played by Uttam Kumar but is also a very well known Indian court case known as the Bhawal case.
The film recounts the chilling story of the Ramendranarayan Roy, the Prince of Bhawal. He was presumed to be dead (actually killed) in an evil plot by his brother-in-law. However fate took a different twist and before he could be fully cremated, suddenly a hailstorm appeared and the pyre was left halfway. Ramendranarayan was in fact alive and was rescued by passing ascetics (sanyasis).
When Ramendranarayan returned, he was no more a king but a sanyasi at heart. Striving only for the truth and not for his wealth, this is a truly one-of -a kind movie that proves fact is truly stranger than fiction.
Also see: Clash of the Titans – Uttam vs Soumitra