wiki:Baba Taraknath

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Baba Taraknath

1977 159’ b&w Bengali d Sunil Bannerjee, Baren Chatterjee pc Sulochana Art Int. co-s/lyr Gouriprasanna Majumdar co-s/dial Bibhuti Mukherjee co-s Shantiranjan Ghosh Dastidar c Anil Gupta, Jyoti Laha m Neeta Sen lp Sandhya Roy, Biswajeet, Sulochana Chatterjee, Gurudas Bannerjee, Sukhen Das, Anup Kumar

Bengali hit mythological comparable with the more famous Hindi Jai Santoshi Maa (1975). The film addresses the shrine of Taraknath (a version of Shiva) at Tarakeshwar, represented by a phallic stone over which pilgrims pour holy water. The extremely simplistically presented conflict between religion and science has an urban scientist (Biswajeet) marry a devout rural belle (Sandhya Roy) against his will. An astrologer foretells much misfortune, which comes true when the scientist, fed up with superstition, returns to his experiments with snake poison and is bitten by one of his snakes. The wife saves her husband by undertaking a long and hazardous pilgrimage to Tarakeshwar, where the deity sends a snake that sucks the poison out of her husband’s body. The film adhered to the tenets of the communal mythological e.g. linking religious faith and female chastity, and evoked the popular legend of Behula and Lakhinder from the Manasa Mangal, a legend promptly filmed within a month of Baba Taraknath’s success (Behula Lakhinder, 1977). Frenzied crowds attending screenings left their footwear outside and many poured the ritual water over a make-believe shrine in the theatre lobby. The film sparked a new wave of pilgrimages to the shrine, esp. by women.