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aka The Crossing 1984 141’(120’) col Hindi d/co-sc/c/m Gautam Ghose pc Orchid Films co-sc Partha Bannerjee st Samaresh Bose’s short story Paarhi dial S.P. Singh. lp Naseeruddin Shah, Shabana Azmi, Utpal Dutt, Om Puri, Mohan Agashe, Anil Chatterjee, Ruma Guha-Thakurta, Sunil Mukherjee, Kamu Mukherjee

One of the former photo-journalist and documentarist Ghosh’s best-known films, it features a familiar New Indian Cinema cast: Shah, Puri and Azmi. A fable of exploitation in rural Bihar, in which the landlord’s (Dutt) men wreck a village and kill the benevolent schoolmaster (Chatterjee) who was its progressive force. The labourer Naurangia (Shah) breaks with a tradition of passive resistance and retaliates by killing the landlord’s brother. Naurangia and his wife Rama (Azmi) become fugitives from justice. After many efforts to find sustenance elsewhere, the two decide to return home. To earn the fare, they agree to drive a herd of pigs through a river, causing the pregnant Rama to believe she has lost her baby. At the end of the film Naurangia puts his ear to her belly and listens to the heartbeats of the unborn child. The original short story dealt mainly with the river crossing and the film was criticised for not adequately integrating this episode with the others. With this film Ghosh joined the trend of 70s ruralist realism, although the river-crossing episode achieves a wider metaphoric resonance.


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