Subhrajit Mitra to make a feature film on Bankim Chandra Chattopadhyay's novel 'Devi Chowdurani'
Legendary Bengali Novelist Bankim Chandra Chattopadhyays eponymous novel Devi Chowdhurani Bandit Queen of Bengal will now be made in a feature film in seven languages including Bengali recapturing the socio-political situation of the 18th Century Bengal.Director Subhrajit Mitra is helming the project, the first pan-Indian Bengali movie encapsulating the lesser-known chapters of the Indian freedom movement.Both Anandamath and Devi Chowdhurani by Bankim Chandra Chattopadhyay are based on a similar timescale where he finds the latter more appealing in terms of a film.
Legendary Bengali Novelist Bankim Chandra Chattopadhyay's eponymous novel 'Devi Chowdhurani' (Bandit Queen of Bengal) will now be made in a feature film in seven languages including Bengali recapturing the socio-political situation of the 18th Century Bengal.
Director Subhrajit Mitra is helming the project, the first pan-Indian Bengali movie encapsulating the lesser-known chapters of the Indian freedom movement.
''Both 'Anandamath' and 'Devi Chowdhurani' by Bankim Chandra Chattopadhyay are based on a similar timescale where he finds the latter more appealing in terms of a film. It narrates the journey of a simple village woman who eventually becomes the first Indian woman freedom fighter, historically, against the colonial rule in India in the later part of the 18th century, much before Rani Lakshmi Bai of Jhansi,'' Mitra told PTI on Saturday. He said the film, which will be shot across West Bengal after the monsoon, will be made in seven languages - Bengali, English, Hindi, Tamil, Kannada, Telugu and Malayalam.
''It will be shot in the suburbs of Kolkata having waterbodies and in districts like Purulia and Birbhum where Devi Chowdhurani and Bhavani Pathak had their citadel. We expect the film to be released by autumn 2024,'' he said. Mitra undertook extensive study and research of the Battle of Plassey, the Battle of Buxar, The Great Bengal Famine of 1770 and the Sanyasi and Fakir Rebellion which spanned across the era. Off course this includes the invasion of the British East India Company in its early years. ''This will be my tribute to my motherland in the 75th year of Independence. It also tells the story of the Hindu ascetic monks who had no other option but to take up arms against the British colonial rulers to save the country and her people. It was the first armed revolution by the Indians, led by Bhavani Pathak, against the British East India Company,'' Mitra said.
The basic plotline of the film, inspired by the classic, remains the same but almost 80 per cent of the narratives is closer to actual history, Mitra said.
''I only had to adapt to the storyline into the alternative historical interpretation,'' he said.
Bengali film superstar Prosenjit Chatterjee will essay the role of Bhavani Pathak, seasoned actor Sabyasachi Chakraborty will enact the role of Zamindar Haraballabh Roy, while Srabanti Chatterjee will be cast in the titular role of the warrior queen, he said.
''Even Bankim Chandra Chattopadhyay wrote the novel almost after 100 years of the original incidents,'' Mitra said.
Mitra said he had to study extensively from the archives of East India Company in London, several texts and manuscripts from the Asiatic Society, British Library, Victoria Memorial and Indian Museum. ''Devi Chowdhurani gives me the opportunity to get me out of my comfort zone. It is a much bigger canvas than my last film, it is actually a part of our lesser-known history. After winning my National award for my last film 'Avijatrik' [The Wanderlust of Apu), I wanted to tell this story, the urge was intense. I wanted to make a very realistic film on this novel and the time period which portrays a plausible historical reconstruction. ''I am fascinated by films of similar genres by the master directors such as Akira Kurosawa and Ridley Scott. The seven samurai, Roshomon, Ran, Throne of Blood, Gladiator, and Robinhood to name a few. We do have a dearth of these kinds of films in Indian cinema barring a few such as 'Junoon' by Shyam Benegal or 'Satranj Ki Khiladi' by Satyajit Ray,'' he added. ''We Indians tends to go overboard with historical fiction and lacks the cinematic approach which can fetch international appreciation. I wish not to delve into that path,'' he said. An LA-based Production house which specializes in producing and distributing International projects has come on board to produce this film. He said this film requires a huge scale and budget to mount it as a magnum opus. Its budget is slated to be the highest in the history of Bengali films, initially estimated at US dollar 2.5 million, Mitra said.
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