P.C. Barua's unfinished dream

The filmmaker's son reveals his late father's unmade passion project

Sonal Pandya

One of Bengali cinema's biggest stars and filmmakers, Prathamesh Chandra (P.C.) Barua, was associated too closely with the character of his most famous work, Devdas (1935). Film historian Ashis Nandy wrote, “No personality in the cinema has established more identity between his private life and the films he created, the roles he played ... He did not merely make Devdas. He was Devdas.”

Barua passed away on 29 November 1951, leaving behind a tremendous legacy with movies in Bengali and Hindi cinema. The last few films he made towards the end of his career were Pehchan (1946) and Iran ki Ek Raat (1949), both in Hindi. Maya Kanan (1953), his last film in Bengali, was released posthumously.

Before he passed, Barua was stationed in London with his son, Abhijit Barua. He told him about the best film he'd yet to make, a passion project about a former prostitute who wants to have a child. Abhijit recalled the story with the rejection of the prostitute by a younger man after which she finds shelter at the Kamakhya temple in Assam. There, she has a brief affair with the priest and envision the unborn child is Lord Shiva's.

National Award-winning film historian and documentarian B.D. Garga called Barua 'a remarkably innovative and socially aware film-maker'. If he had the opportunity to make his unfinished dream, imagine how much richer his legacy would have been.