wiki:Neel Akasher Neechey

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Neel Akasher Neechey

aka Under the Blue Sky 1958 133’ b&w Bengali d/sc Mrinal Sen p/m Hemanta Mukherjee pc Hemanta Bela Prod. st Mahadevi Verma’s story Chini Pheriwala lyr Gouriprasanna Chattopadhyay c Sailaja Chatterjee lp Kali Bannerjee, Manju Dey, Bikash Roy, Smriti Biswas, Ajit Chatterjee, Suruchi Sengupta

Sen’s first commercial success, after his financially disastrous debut Raat Bhore (1956). Produced by the composer Hemanta Mukherjee, the film is set in the 30s and tells of an honest Chinese hawker, Wang Lu (Bannerjee), who sells silk in Calcutta’s streets while refusing to get involved in the opium trade run by his fellow countrymen. A flashback reveals his past history in China’s Shantung province: a cruel landlord blackmailed Wang Lu’s sister into prostitution, resulting in her suicide. The sequence, including documentary footage shot by Sen in China, is recalled when Wang Lu feels a brotherly affection for Basanti (Dey), the wife of a Calcutta lawyer (Roy). Basanti is committed to Swadeshi and has political disagreements with her husband, who blames Wang Lu for this. Basanti is arrested and imprisoned, causing Wang Lu to become more involved with her political group. When she is released, in 1931, the Japanese invasion of Manchuria makes Wang Lu go back and join the resistance. The story attempts to link India’s independence struggle with China’s fight against Japan. Sen said that the 30s, which formed much of the CPI’s theory on imperialism, was ‘enormously exciting ... [w]ith an element of nostalgia’ and he returned to the period several times (cf. Matir Manisha, 1966). However, the film’s non-chauvinist end is as significant as its internationalism in the anti-Chinese hysteria preceding the India-China War of 1962. The sentimental film is remembered mainly for one of composer- singer Mukherjee’s most famous songs, O nadire ekti katha sudhai, and for Kali Bannerjee’s remarkable performance. Shot mainly on sets, the dialogue evokes political and class stereotypes while inscribing several political references, e.g. Basanti’s use of homespun Khadi cloth when Wang Lu offers her a piece of silk.