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12/02/2009 21:39

Film Review

Quite some miles away from the glitters of the silver screen, where no glycerine-induced cries do incite our tearducts or no silvercoin tingles to lure us to be glued to our seats, comes a small film from a new entrant. Whatever small it is - it’s beautiful, sincere, thought provoking and committed in its truest sense. Shyamalendu Biswas’s “DAIBADDHA” literally means ‘committed’ shot on a video format and almost on a shoestring budget of Rs.8,000-10,000, shows how one of the biggest penicilin manufacturing company in India is being slaughtered in the name of sickness. Situated in Srirampur in Hooghly district, not so far from Calcutta, Standerd Pharmaceuticals Ltd. was the 3rd bulk producer of penicilin employing 1000 odd workers. How the company was transformed into OPEC is another story. The film portrays how the closure of Standard/OPEC has shattered the lives and families of the workers.

The film opens woth the shot of gloomy paper clipping of the closed unit, which set the tune. But the director does not stick to it and the tone often changes. Shyamalenu’s camera goes to the houses of the jobless workers, persons representing political parties, trade union leaders as well as leaders of Standerd-OPEC Banchao committee. His imagination comes into play where his camera could not go. The use of fictional element in the documentary, enacted by Bisakha Ghose as a management’s spokeperson in a TV within film manner, reads out the company’s plans and policies, is striking. In this respect one reminds of Joris Ivens who wrote ‘ no film, not even a newsreel could be made without some degree of artistic manipulation’. Shyamalendu takes the licence to make us believe and beatifully mixes the same with the company’s sales promotional materials, which later comes as a shock to us when he goes to trace the origin of the problem. Dilip Ghose’s crisp editing helps the film to achieve its desired effect.

The film is roughly divided into three sections. First, the origin and growth of the problem that culminates to the halt and closure of the unit. Second, actions taken ( in the form of protest meetings, processions etc.) by mass leaders and civil liberties activists and third, the condition of the workers, each section putting forward the other. In using the interviews the director finds out what is contradictory to others and juxtaposes the same by which his editing pattern takes shape and emerges his film that lays bare the intricasies of the problem. In the last section we go to the shanties of the ailing workers who are now living alomost from hand to mouth by making bidis or selling handkerchiefs. We see the mourning of a widow of a deceased worker who now lives on selling her ornaments. She does not know her future. The entire scene becomes charged with emotion when we see a glimpse of the interview of a worker and later the director mixes the same with the image of his mourning wife, now widowed.

The film concludes with the voice-over indicating to take definitive stance, mentions the names of some units well-run by workers’ co-operative. One may not agree with all this, but can not ignore when one notices the honesty and collective effort that has gone into making of ‘DAIBADDHA’. Sabyasachi Das’s camera work is also good. The film certainly not get any slot because of the appaling state of the newsmonger media, where genuine human cause often goes into oblivion. But this attempt should be remembered for its nobility and honesty.

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"Film as dream, film as music. No art passes our conscience in the way film does, and goes directly to our feelings, deep down into the dark rooms of our souls."
-Ingmar Bergman

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