Santhals set for film debut

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  • Published 28.12.03

Siliguri, Dec. 28: Six days after the Eighth Schedule of the Constitution recognised their language, Alchiki, Santhals are gearing up for their silver screen debut with a Prem Marandi production in February.

The 30-something Marandi, who played the role of director, producer and cinematographer of the first full-fledged Santhali feature film Haire Aricheli (alas! our customs), could barely contain his excitement while speaking about his dream project at a press conference today.

An ardent Amitabh Bachhan admirer and a die-hard Mahesh Bhatt fan, Marandi already has a band of loyal followers among Santhals. His first offering, Chando Likhan (the script of god) was a huge success in Santhal-dominated areas in eastern India.

“The success of my first film has inspired me to make a better effort this time. This movie was made on a budget of Rs 12 lakh,” he said.

Radhika Tudu and Anjali Hembrum, two leading female characters in the film, are from Siliguri. The male lead, Chandu Soren, is from Ghatshila.

“The film, which depicts the caste conflicts among the Santhal community, was for the first time shot at various outdoor locations stretching from Orissa to Jharkhand. The soundtrack has 12 songs, both modern and traditional folk tunes. The audiocassettes were released recently,” Marandi said.

Haire Aricheli is being edited by Subrata Lahiri in Calcutta and we are looking forward to it’s Calcutta premiere in February,” he added.

Marandi said the younger generation had responded positively to his movies.

“We are eager to project young people with talent and girls from Siliguri, in fact from all of north Bengal have a lot to offer in this respect. Boys from Jharkhand are just as enthusiastic about trying their hand out at such creative ventures,” he said.

The leading-lady of the film, Radhika Tudu, who was also present at today’s news conference, said: “I loved each moment of the shooting. My parents have always supported me and this time was no exception. My friends too were very enthusiastic about my role. They all encouraged me to give my character in the film everything that I had to offer. I hope I can live up to their expectations and pray that Santhal youths will be encouraged to pursue performing art. We will try to give them the opportunity to showcase their talents.”

The only stumbling block for such ventures, Marandi felt, was finance. “The government of West Bengal has always encouraged people who were keen on producing films in Santhali language. We would appeal to the government to try and support such ventures. If that is done, it will take care of one of the biggest worries of the producer.”