Softer side of a braveheart - Biopic on Chilarai to hit screens across Assam today

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By RAJIV KONWAR
  • Published 26.07.13
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Guwahati, July 25: Director Samarendra Narayan Dev, who took a break after his last movie, Putala Ghar, hit the screens in 1976, is back with a bang with Bir Chilarai — the biggest budget Assamese movie till date — that premiered at Anuradha cinema hall here today. It will be releasing in 26 theatres across Assam tomorrow.

A biopic on Chilarai, the heroic younger brother of 16th century Kamata king Nara Narayana, Bir Chilarai was made with a budget of Rs 1.5 crore — surpassing Ahir Bhairav (2008, Rs 1 crore) that had held the biggest budget distinction till now.

Comparing the budget with that of his earlier productions, Dev, whose 1971 movie, Aranya, is still remembered not only for its storyline but also for the song, Xile xile theka khale, said, “The budget of Aranya was Rs 1.2 lakh and that of Putala Ghar was Rs 1.8 lakh.”

The movie was the result of a promise the Assam government had made to the Koch-Rajbongshi community to showcase the life and exploits of their heroic general, Chilarai, on the big screen.

Hence, the government invested Rs 1 crore in the project and entrusted Dev, a descendent of the royal family, with the task of directing the biopic.

Dev said the film was an attempt to make people aware about Chilarai’s multifaceted personality and his contributions to the state. The general was a Sanskrit scholar, an expert on Ayurvedic medicine and a skilled fighter and this is what the movie tries to portray.

But Dev has kept battles out of the storyline — a letdown for many in the audience. His focus is to show Chilarai as a romantic and intelligent individual.

Dev said battle scenes would have highly inflated the budget and so he opted for visual effects, which consumed much of his time. “For the technical part of the film I feel indebted to my two sons. Without them, the film would not have been possible. The nitty-gritty of filmmaking has changed a lot. I hope the people of the state accepts it,” he said.

The cast includes Anup Hazarika, Aimee Barua, Mridula Baruah, Kasmiri Saikia, Niloy Gupta, Bidyut Chakrabarty, Bishnu Kharghoria, Bhargav Kataki, Jayanta Das and Bhagawat Pritam.

Senior artiste Badal Das praised Dev for his initiative to highlight Chilarai’s life. “Dev has succeeded in portraying the life of a general. I hope the people will get the film’s message. It is praiseworthy that despite resource limitations, Dev has tried to make a film on Chilarai,” he said.

The audience at today’s premiere, however, sounded a little disappointed.

“The film does not show Chilarai’s bravery or victories and hence the name seems to be a misnomer,” said a viewer.