Kolkata: Magsaysay award winning writer Mahasweta Devi, many of whose stories have been made into memorable movies, will herself now appear in one being adapted for celluloid. The movie 'Ullas' consists of three stories, all written by the writer, one of which is 'Dour' (run) in which the prominent tribal rights activist has acted.
The information was passed on by the 86-year-old writer herself in a press meet at the film hub Nandan where some clips of the movie, based on tribal exploitation, were shown. "I haven't shared a frame with any important member ofthe cast. But this is the first time I am facing the camera," Mahasweta said in her characteristic style of understatement.
'Dour' revolves around the death of a tribal during a recruitment test for police constables which bears an uncanny similarity with a recent real-life incident in which two young men, appearing for the physical fitness test for the posts of Kolkata Police constables, died in the blazing sun.
"How prophetic the writer was!" the film's director Ishwar Chakraborty said. The Padma Vibhushan awardee said she had not seen the film and it is just that she penned the stories. "I haven't seen the film as yet. Only I have written the
stories and followed the words of the director during shooting. I am leaving it to the audience to judge its merits," she said.
Besides 'Dour', the two other stories in the film are 'Aranyer Adhikar' (Right of the Forest) and 'Madhuho'. "I had extensively toured the tribal-dominated villages in Bengal and neighbouring states staying with them. I personally know people from those areas," Mahasweta said.
Asked about her role, the director said it was an integral part of the story, the role of one who is part of the forest and trees, one who cannot be divorced or separated from those areas. The cast of the film, produced by R N R Enterprises, includes two debutante actors Amit Das and Sadhana Hazra.
Amit has essayed the role of a tribal boy Mahadhao in 'Dour' where he has gone almost nude in some scenes reflecting his socio-economic background and the backwardness of the area. Sadhana on the other hand has turned up as a simple Lodha girl, Chakraborty said.
Asked how it felt as a story based on a subject close to her heart was being turned into a film, Mahasweta said, "I am happy." Eminent film critic Shamik Bandyopadhyay said 'Ullas', which he has seen, would mark a welcome break from the urban-centric topics of human relationship in today's Bengali films.
"Ullas brings back the flavour of the 70s when the exploitation of the poor and subalterns were the leitmotif of films." He regretted that such a vital topic was not turned into celluloid before.