It is rarely that Bangla films, other than those made by Satyajit Ray, Ritwik Ghatak, Mrinal Sen or Buddhadeb Dasgupta, are talked about in the Indian media. But that is precisely what is happening with director Kamaleshwar Mukhodpadhayay's latest work “Chander Pahar”, based on Bibhutibhusan Bandopadhyay's 1909 novel of the same name.
The buzz around the film is mainly for two reasons: Its budget of Rs 17 crore makes it the most expensive Bangla film coming out of Tollywood and for its camerawork that captures the breathtaking landscape of South Africa, where the movie was extensively shot, in a manner never before seen in any Indian film.
One reviewer in “The Times of India” newspaper says, “The film scores big on its showcasing of Africa. The landscape is breathtaking… it's a trip down memory lane to the time when VHS cassettes introduced us to the continent through films like 'Savage Harvest', 'Hatari' and 'Born Free'. Panoramic shots of the wilderness are like none seen in Tollywood before.”
“Chander Pahar” chronicles the adventures of a young Bangali man Shankar Roy Chowdhury, in the jungles of Africa spanning 1909-1910.
Deb, the protagonist of “Chander Pahar”, said he and other members of the film unit spent 45 days shooting scenes that included an encounter with a lion and climbing steep mountains with shots of horse-riding thrown in good measure.
“During my shoot with the lion, I went closer than what director Kamaleswar Mukhopadhyay had wanted. During one of the scenes, I had fallen from a horse and wounded myself,” said Deb.
Kamaleshwar Mukhopadhyay said Deb, an established star in Bangla films, was a natural choice, though he was typecast in the commercial genre.
The director took up “Chander Pahar” bringing with him the reputation of having done earlier “Meghey Dhaka Tara”, a film said to be based on the life of Ritwik Ghatak (played by actor Sawsata Chatterjee) and earned critical acclaim but not commercial success.
“Chander Pahar” has already made a mark among followers of social networking sites like Facebook but it's translating into box office success as well. The film is set for release all across India this Friday and on January 10 next year in the US.