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1948 126’[B]/139’[H] b&w Bengali/Hindi? d/s Bimal Roy pc New Theatres st Subodh Ghosh’s Fossil dial[H] Mohanlal Bajpai lyr[H] Bhushan, Romesh Panday c Kamal Bose m Rai Chand Boral lp Sunanda Bannerjee, Tulsi Chakraborty, Parul Kar, Manorama Jr., Chhabi Roy, Bipin Gupta, Asit Sen, Purnendu Mukherjee, Jahar Roy, Sunil Dasgupta, Prafulla Mukherjee, Ramakrishna Chatterjee, Devi Mukherjee[B], Amita Basu[B], Phalguni Roy[B], Shankar Sen[B], Raja Ganguly[B], Kalipada Sarkar[B], Bhanu Bannerjee[B], Manoranjan Bhattacharya[B], Rama Nehru[H], Hirabai[H], Hiralal[H], Ajay Kumar[H], Raimohan[H], Bhupendra Kapoor[H]

Roy’s New Theatres sequel to his remarkable debut Udayer Pathay/Hamrahi? (1944), this is a political allegory about collusion in colonial times between the aristocracy and a rising indigenous bourgeoisie. The despotic ruler of the small Anjangarh kingdom comes into conflict with a mining syndicate which pays its workers a decent wage and allows the unionisation of the workforce. This bodes ill for the ruler. Eventually the syndicate joins with the despot in naming an innocent reformist collective set up for the welfare of the workers as the real culprit behind the popular unrest. Subodh Ghosh’s powerful story Fossil is a savagely ironic account of a fictional kingdom allegorically representing the socio-economic rise of the native colonial state. The big-budget film includes the key characters of the novel (e.g. the bourgeois liberal Mukherjee who dreams of a future land when the bones of the dead workers will, with the quartz and granite, yield mineral deposits a million years from now; the peasant leader Dulal Mahato), while placing in greater prominence the love story between the peasant leader Shubha and Mukherjee. It also has a ‘Vivek’, a singing minstrel used as a narrative chorus, a device borrowed from the traditional Jatra form.