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aka The Guerrilla Fighter aka The Rank And File 1973 98’(93’) b&w Bengali d/p/s/co-st Mrinal Sen p Mrinal Sen Prod. co-st Ashish Burman c K.K. Mahajan m Ananda Shankar lp Simi Garewal, Dhritiman Chatterjee, Bijon Bhattacharya, Jochan Dastidar, Dhruba Mitra, Ashima Sinha, Kamal Kidwai, Farida Kidwai, Tapan Das

Completing his Calcutta trilogy (Interview, 1970; Calcutta ’71, 1972) with a story more conventionally coherent than its predecessors, Sen presents the lessons adumbrated in the two previous instalments in a reflection on practical politics and party organisation after the Moscow-Beijing split of the early 60s and the Naxalite rising. An urban political activist (Chatterjee) escapes from police custody and is sheltered by an upper-class woman (Simi) who also defies the constraints of ‘traditional’ oppression: she left her husband and lives alone in a comfortable flat. The two are visited by a prudish and dogmatic party official (Mitra). The activist, though loyal to the movement for political liberation, uses his enforced isolation to reassess the political situation in Bengal. Eventually the activist leaves the flat to visit his ailing mother and learns that his father (Bhattacharya) refuses to be coerced into signing a no-strike agreement at his factory. Sen’s lucid if at times naive assessment of party politics and leadership questions caused considerable controversy at the time, partly because, via the figure of the activist’s father’s admonition that the ‘Naxalite movement should learn its lessons from the freedom struggle’ (referring thereby to Tagore’s Char Adhyay), Sen suggests that the Naxalite rising against the Indian State could also be viewed as an extension of the Independence movement.