A rural ascetic brings India riches at IFFI

Panaji, Dec 2 (IANS) It took the story of a famed ascetic from West Bengal to wrest back for the country after a decade the International Film Festival of India’s Golden Peacock in the form of renowned filmmaker Gautam Ghose’s ‘Moner Manush’.

‘Moner Manush’, an India-Bangladesh co-production which premiered at IFFI, is based on the life of Lalon Fakir or Lalon Shah, a revered rustic fakir, whose poetry and baul songs are considered classics in West Bengal.

Famous Bengali actor-producer Prosenjit Chatterji plays Lalon in the film, which received rave reviews at the fest.

The last time that an Indian film won the Golden Peacock at the IFFI was Kerala filmmaker Jayaraj’s ‘Karunam’ in 2000.

Ghose, who received the award from Saif Ali Khan, said that the film was a positive sign as far as cross-country collaboration was concerned.

‘It was an Indo-Bangaldesh joint production. The collaboration, where the two countries came together to produce a cinema is a new beginning,’ Ghose said.

‘My film is about tolerance, religion, politics and culture. The film will encourage co-production between India and other and other south Asian countries like Pakistan and Bangladesh; because politically we may be divided but culturally we are the same,’ said the master director who has directed films like Naseeruddin Shah’s ‘Paar’ in the past.

Lauding Lalon Fakir, details of whose exact birth and death are vague, Ghose said while Bengal went through an urban renaissance through thinkers like Rabindranath Tagore, it was fakirs and other mystics like Lalon, who earthy intellect captured and pervaded through the region’s rurales.

Based on a novel by Sunil Gangopadhyay, the cast of the film includes Prosenjit Chatterjee, Raisul Islam Asad, Chanchal Chowdhury, Priyanshu Chatterjee, Syed Hasan Imam, Gulshan Ara Champa, Paoli Dam and Shubhra.

Prosenjit said that the biopic on Lalon fakir was receiving rave reviews all over the world and had opened new doors for Bengali cinema.

”Moner Manush’ only proves that regional cinema has the potential for an international audience,’ he said.

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