wiki:Akaler Sandhaney

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Akaler Sandhaney

aka In Search of Famine 1980 128’ col Bengali d/sc Mrinal Sen p Dhiresh Kumar Chakraborty pc D.K. Films st Amalendu Chakravarty c K.K. Mahajan m Salil Choudhury lp Dhritiman Chatterjee, Smita Patil, Sreela Majumdar, Geeta Sen, Dipankar Dey, Rajen Tarafdar, Radhamohan Bhattacharya, Devika Mukherjee, Sajal Roy Choudhury, Jochan Dastidar, Siddhartha Dutta, Reba Roy Choudhury, Umanath Battacharya, Nirmal Ghosh

In 1980 a film crew from Calcutta headed by a director (Chatterjee) arrives in a small Bengali village to make a ‘social conscience’ film set in the 1943 famine (setting of his earlier Baishey Shravan, 1960). They stay in a dilapidated mansion inhabited by a woman and her incapacitated old husband. The crew, including star Patil (playing herself), begins to make contact with villagers such as the admiring Haren (Tarafdar), the last surviving weaver, and the local teacher (R. Bhattacharya). The villagers observe the preparations with undisguised curiosity but gradually the voyeuristic implications of a big film crew coming to address ‘local history’ in a village become unbearable to all concerned. Conflicts erupt and the film has to be abandoned. The double time levels involved in the 1943-1980 structure of the tale, with ample parallels between the two periods emerging as the film progresses (e.g. a villager accuses the crew of starting a new famine as they buy up food for the film unit’s lavish meals; or the village notables used to be or are descended from famine profiteers), is further complicated by a village woman, Durga (S. Majumdar) whose intimations of the future disorient the city- dwellers even further. Suresh Chandra’s art direction is particularly notable for the way he orchestrates the encroachment of set-like qualities into the village location, giving the cultural and temporal disjunctions in the narrative a palpably physical dimension. Sen commented that the film made ‘a confession of our incapacities. We speak of the crisis in the arts when we hesitate to confront reality or fail to catch its true bearings.’

Film