Wednesday, September 10, 2008

The Naxalites -Khwaja Ahmed Abbas, Mithun- A classic movie from the 1980's

The Naxalites- A 1980 movie Part 1

Part 1 - 10 Min
Part 2 - 10 Min
Part 3 - 10 Min
Part 4 - 10 Min
Not sure if the complete movie is available...

Movie Review

The Naxalites (Mera Inquilab)

Land of Deprived and Dispossessed

Director Khwaja Ahmed Abbus
Producer Khwaja Ahmed Abbus
Music Prem Dhawan
Starting Mithun Chakraborty, Smita Patil,Nana Paliskar,Jalal Aaga,Tinu Anand, Dina Pathak, Imtiaz Khan,Dilip Raj,Pinchoo Kapoor,Yunis Parvej,Jaharlal Kaur

Music: Prem Dhawan

Officially Release: 1980

Language: Hindi and Bengali


K.A ABBAS is a true visionary and his movies reflect the deprivations and vicissitudes of Indian masses, so don’t watch this if you don’t have stomach to watch a man being tortured as an ashtray by the cops with cigarette butts, famished peasants wondering in the lush green Bengal as they drop dead, a man selling his mother on the street as a whore, an orphan living in a grave in a cemetery, for these are the soulful but wrathful images which fill the screen in a requiem for the great Bengali nation in quest for their aspirations and deliverance in this veracious drama.

But do not expect sheer pity or divulging melodrama, as there is a genius at work here who does not want sympathy for his proud characters who want to shake the yokes of centuries of oppression but rather a passion for their dreams, which makes this a celebration for humanity. For this is the man who made the prestigious Dharti Ke Laal, the best account of the Bengal famine, as he created Shehar Or Sapna and Asman Mahal, two authentic classics of Hindi cinema, what a pity that intellect is not commercially palatable in art, so he only creates money spinners when he writes for the great showman Raj Kapoor, as Bobby and Awara are both penned by the same man. Unlike the eighties movies Mein Azaadhoun on a similar theme which become extremely melodramatic and sentimental at time.

This demonstrates that cult classic like Naxalite should never be remade into a political travesty.

But this is his final offering and it follows the trail of the infamous Naxal Bari movement which was crushed but couldn’t be finished by the hierarchy in Bengal, it was labeled as communism and anarchy when all it was trying to do was restore the basic human rights to a suffering populace, festering like an open sore on the face of India, this remains unchanged with starvation rampant in Assam, Bengal and Bihar but the only difference is likes of K.A Abbas have vanished from Indian cinema.

The story wants to wake the conscience of a silent majority who accept tyranny without protest when a minority decide to fight the carnage with violence instead and give rise to a so called terrorist organization, the protagonists here are ordinary men and women with Mithun Chakraborty and Smita Patil as the leading figures and the plot follows the struggles of its multiple figures as they render their humane sacrifices for a cause which they have swore to serve eternally.

The movie doesn’t treat itself as a doctrine in glorifying them, but rather analyses the milieu which induces their rebellion, yet once it establishes its motive, it doesn’t waste time in a political debate but quickly evolves into a script which is angry but relevant as the armed conflict ensues, unfortunately all true and what newspaper headlines reflected in the eighties and nineties, so it might be too uncomfortable for some viewers but cinematic heaven for others.

This is Mithun Chakraborty’s second Bollywood’s attempt after bagging the national award in Mrinal Sen’s Mrigaya and he is cast superbly as an orphaned grave dweller who lost his parents to the famine and is traumatized by memories of his mother having to sell her body to survive the streets of Calcutta, he is educated by a journalist into his past history ,when he is taken to watch Dharti Ki Laal, and he finds himself relating to the characters onscreen in a bewilderingly powerful sequence as Mithun nods off in boredom and then wakes up to the scenes folding out on the screen until he is passionately screaming in a genuine rage at the reality being shown in the great Dharti Ke Laal.

This was one of the earlier ventures of Smita Patil too, who is cast as an university student, a girl who wants justice for her brother, tortured to death by cops and has to prove her loyalty to the organization with murder, but it is admirable how convincingly she executes her unconventional role, as does Jalal Agha and Tinu Anand who respectively play a tribal villager and a manual rickshaw driver, both exploited at the hands of rural and urban tyrants.

The cinematography is metaphorical with simple images using earthly colors to heighten the mood of this angry drama but its level headedness is praise-worthy as it never betrays itself into becoming propaganda to resort to violence but emphasizes that if justice is denied to the poor in any civilization it will create dissension and rebellion, which is the message conveyed in this story with a multiple character plot used for the framework in this great experiment, but the technical aspects remain extremely neat though you can see the maker economizing his meager budget, despite which he comes up with an admirable social drama which also works as an action adventure but most of all it remains true to its theme and that is to show the reality in a realistic manner. BRAVO!

An authentic Auteur or an Altruistic Agitator?

(A brief Introduction of Filmmaker)

A.K.Abbas (Left Most)

K. A .Abbas was possibly the most definitive and progressive activist in Indian literature and cinema. He is an intellectual who tries to redeem and solve a paradox without making a crucial issue into pseudo intellectual paradigm, his personal life akin to his public profile is affiliated with his passion for his causes versus the eponymous vitriolic opposition of his critics.

He was immensely talented, a true altruist and even his socialist themes are euphemisms for common sufferings. He made some deeply moving and disturbing realist and experimental cinema, it is expressionist but never abstract, in comparison to the avant-garde western influences of Andy Warhol and rolling stones, he is more in league with Di-Sica and Satyajit Ray, but he is always an existentialist who blames the hierarchy and the criminals with observing the truth without taking sides visibly.

He made the following note worthy unique classics:

Shehar aur sapna

Bambai Raat ki Bahoon Mein

Do Bhoond Paani

The Naxalites

Aasman Mahal

They are all dramatic satires colloquially dressed as mainstream cinema, they amalgamate the virtues and evils of materialism against socialism and are a debate on various stoically impassive crucial issues which most people will choose to ignore, while Abbas is not a renegade or a rebel, he definitely is a reformer who wants social modification at grass root level without destroying the ultra-structure of the defined establishment.

K. A. Abbas addresses the anger of youth in an endeavor to channel it into a calm conduit without denying the failures of the judiciary and democracy in India, he discusses lack of clean drinking water, truant itinerant homeless sleeping on the sidewalk, police cruelty, incompetent bureaucracy, colonial values still rampant in modern free India and in his last most memorable movie, he investigates and details the doomed and damning NAXALITE movement, which arose in Calcutta as a direct reaction to the delusional dissent of disillusioned youth who saw no change in a free India for the common man, instead the cloak of oppression had tightened.

The cast worked free of charge, including the two stars Smita Patil and Mithun Chakraborty, it was shot on real life locations and is rumored to be based on real life anecdotes. It is a final message from an auteur to a disgruntled and discontent social milieu, which persists despite the fact; he created this 30 years ago.

I have tried to do justice to this crucial but very significant movie in my review without discussing the rights or wrongs of the actions of its vitriolic, wrathful youth and their violent acts as I believe brutality breeds brutality and the right path to harmony lies in a society where all men are equal in the eyes of law and justice, whether it is a democracy or a totalitarian regime is besides the point, if justice is denied then a system has failed it's protagonists.

This is neither correctional nor sermonizing but a profound observation from a disillusioned mind who has seen his dreams shattered before his eyes.

I hope you enjoy this review of a cult classic, which is expressionist cinema in technique, and neo-realist in content, despite being minimalist as it is shot on a shoestring budget due to financial constraints. God bless the soul of Mr.Abbas.

1 comment:

  1. thank you fr the posting this movie and review.


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