Kolkata, 23 Jul 2020 20:30 IST
Updated: 29 Jul 2020 14:52 IST
The short film, directed by Samrat Chakraborty, features Debesh Roy Chowdhury and Barun Chanda in the leading roles.
Samrat Chakraborty’s short film Bishad Bindu (2020) deals with the rising instances of communal hatred in the country.
While the Bengali community prides itself for a liberal outlook on religion, this film presents a different perspective. It shows how a lack of humanity and compassion can give rise to a regressive mentality in anyone irrespective of community.
The film begins with the protagonist, a grindstone engraver (Debesh Roy Chowdhury), calling out to his customers while making the rounds of a locality in a small town in Bengal that is equally populated by Hindus and Muslims. His first customer for the day is a man from a Hindu family which is hosting a Bhagavad Gita session conducted by Maharaj (Barun Chanda).
As the engraver begins his work, customers of both faiths line up. A curious Muslim housewife sits beside him and engages in small talk, asking about his family.
The conversation angers the Hindu customer. He bundles his wife inside the house and begins to question the engraver's faith, attacking him for using the same tools to carve both temples and mosques on the stones. Soon a crowd gathers and attacks the engraver who finds it difficult to escape. No matter where he tries to hide, he encounters religious fanatics.
In the crowd is another Hindu man who has been labelled a lunatic and kept in confinement as he is a free thinker. He questions the meaning of peace as Maharaj recites verses from the Gita, which was composed in the midst of the battle of Kurukshetra, fought between the Pandavas and the Kauravas, in the Mahabharata.
The film ends symbolically with the lunatic breaking free from his shackles and running out of the house without clothes, symbolizing a society that has shed the garb of civility. It coincides with the tragic end of the stone engraver.
The storyline raises a few questions. Are communal conflicts so easily instigated in a place where Hindus and Muslims seem to coexist? Perhaps it is possible when a character like the engraver threatens blind faith.
The engraver prefers to call himself an artist and believes that art transcends religion. He even refuses to divulge his own religious identity to his customers. The question that arises then is why does he choose to carve temples and mosques on the grinding stones? He even seems to be pleased that people are rediscovering religion.
Roy Chowdhury puts in an endearing and natural performance. Chanda, with his baritone voice, is impressive in his brief appearance, as is the actress who plays the Muslim housewife. The rest of the portrayals seem artificial.
The dialogues could have been a little more natural. Apart from the natural flow of conversation between the engraver and the Muslim housewife, the rest of the dialogues come across as stilted. However, the attention to detail in the production design is praiseworthy. The ambience of a small town in West Bengal has been very well reproduced.
The camerawork by Ashes Mukherjee and Amit Debnath’s editing are some of the other highlights of the film. Both the look and the technical work help create an engaging experience for the audience.
However, one cannot help but recall Mir Mosharraf Hossain’s epic novel titled Bishad Sindhu. Perhaps the director was alluding to the tragic element in the novel while choosing the title of his short film.
Bishad Bindu was screened at the 16th Mumbai International Film Festival at the Films Division, Mumbai, on 2 February 2020.
Related topicsMumbai International Film Festival
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