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Palan, the guiding plot character of the movie Kharij by renowned film maker Mrinal Sen, or at least the actor who played him, is these days eking out a meagre living as a priest in his native village of Sukhariya in Balagarh, his film career nothing but a set of fond memories.
Kharij have won the special jury prize at the Cannes international Film festival and other prestigious awards.
The movie tells the story of a middle class family whose child servant, Palan, is found dead in their kitchen. The family members of the deceased are denied justice since the case is closed (kharij). Prasanta Chatterjee was the child artist who acted in the role of Palan in Kharij. He went on to act in several other films including Adarsh Hindu Hotel and Genesis, as well as in Bhojpuri, and Assamese films.
But then he had contracted malaria while shooting for a film in Arunachal Pradesh. While recovered from the disease, the actor suffered partial loss of hearing, bringing his career in the film industry to an end.
He was left with no option other than to return to his village in Balagarh and take up the family traditional profession of priesthood.
Prasanta, still remembers fondly the days working with Mrinal Sen and other renowned directors, the weak eyes shining, reflecting a sense of pride while narrating his debut in the film world under the fatherly guidance of Sen
According to Chatterjee, in the year 1997 Mrinal Sen with his team had put up at Radhakunj at the majestic building of Somra Biswas Zamindar Bari to shoot the movie Akaler Sandhan.
“We had a shop selling pan and cigarettes. During their stay for three months I regularly carried pan and cigarettes for Mrinal Sir and others. In my innocence I picked up the words “cut cut cut” and unconsciously uttered it as I passed through the film sets. Mrinal Sir had captured my repeated utterance of “cut cut” on camera which he included in his flim.
“Thereafter Mrinal Sir asked me to come to his residence at Beltala in Kolkata. Under the guidance of the renowned flim maker I successful played the role of Palan. Besides my work in the movies, I was helped to complete my college education at Sir Ashutosh College at Kolkata, Mrinal Sir even helped me to get a job for regular earning.
“But Mrinal Sir soon after becoming a Rajya Sabha member went to Delhi and a communication gap developed. At the age of 16 I partially lost the sense of hearing. It brought a great setback in my flim career. No other option was left open for me but to return to my native village in Balagarh to carry on my family’s traditional profession of priesthood.
“I don’t have a complete pucca house. My son is in a private job and earns a meagre amount and my daughter is still pursuing her studies. Earning from the priesthood is too meagre to meet the ends. However I receive a beneficiary priesthood amount of 1000.00. At this age I am helpless. Many a times I don’t have sufficient money to buy medicines. However Mr Partha Chatterjee, the Bengali professor at the Balagar College is a good Samaritan for me,” he says.