It is strange that in a country like India that produces the largest number of films, there are hardly any that have explored the human and natural cost of dams and barrages that have done more harm than good to the lives of thousands of people. Dams and barrages are sought as technical solutions to problems supposedly created by natural calamities that affect the lives of villagers. But the human cost that results from them have been dubbed by socially-minded scientists and development experts as “manmade destruction wrought by unplanned hydel power projects in a sensitive and fragile eco-system”.

The only feature film that comes to mind is Khwaja Ahamad Abbas’s Do Boond Pani (1971) which was more about building a dam in the deserts of Rajasthan where people were dying from scarcity of water. A young man (Jalal Agha) goes to work on the dam but loses his life in the process. His sacrifice helps transform the desert land into a fertile area and the dam is named Ganga Sagar Dam after his name, Ganga Singh. After almost half a century, a Bengali feature film will be depicting the cost of building dams and barrages.

Biporjoy (Devastation) explores the issue of the tragic outcome of a decision to build a barrage across a river through a fictitious village called Suryanagar in West Bengal. It multiplies the tragedy of the barrage construction by weaving in the diabolic plans of some evil people with an eye on amassing large sources of wealth.

The protagonist is Pratik Choudhury, a young engineer who arrives in the village, apparently to look into the construction but in reality, to clear the name of his father who was killed on dubious grounds. The ambitious story has been written by Amlan Majumdar who also wrote the screenplay and dialogues. The young director Sourav Chakraborty, says, “I was looking for a serious subject that would also have commercial prospects for my first film. I did not wish to make a copy of a Southern film or twist some Hollywood/ Bollywood plot and make a Bengali film. Then I happened to meet Amlan da and he narrated this story. I was overwhelmed but I had no money to produce the film. Then, an actor I have given a break to, Ziarat, who plays the antagonist, introduced me to Sayed Abdul Shaker who willingly came forward to produce his first ever film.”

The ambitious project has a big cast. Among them are veterans like Victor Banerjee, Ashish Vidyarthy, Biswanath Bose, Parthasarathi Deb, Debdoot Ghosh, Debesh Roychoudhury, Ratan Sarkhel, Debika Mitra and Chhanda Chatterjee. Alongside them are talented young actors like Indraneil Sengupta who, for the first time, is paired with his wife Barkha Bisht in her first Bengali film in a character that is sympathetic to the cause of the villagers, a comparative newcomer Anusmriti Sengupta and the debutant Ziarat.

“This is an action-based thriller with entertaining elements where good eventually triumphs over evil,” says the producer. Lyrics and music have been composed and created by the debutant pair of Kohinoor and Abhishek. Produced under the banner of SAZ Films and presented by Laxmi Kanta Hazra, Biporjoy is slated for a 10 November release.