A Bilingual double film projecting the life of Dr Shyama Prasad Mookherjee — a leading light of the Hindu Mahasabha — set against the backdrop of the 1946 communal riots in Calcutta, has been verbally rejected and virtually stalled by the Kolkata Censor Board after its screening in Mumbai. Yet, after viewing the film on 22 August, the review committee highly appreciated it in the presence of the regional officer. One of the members of the review committee said, “If Dr Shyama Prasad was not there, Bengal would have been partitioned and usurped by Pakistan and, we would never have been able to sit in this room of Kolkata. “ Without offering a viable explanation, the regional officer barred the movie from being passed by the censor board. With Sadhan Talukdar and Tuhin Das as executive producers, this bilingual in Bengali and Hindi titled Danga, the Riot and 1946, Calcutta Killings has been directed by Milan Bhowmick and will revive memories of those incidents.
Calcutta became the primary zone of action and Suhrawardy, the prime minister of undivided Bengal, ignited communal passions and capitalised on Muslim sentiments when he declared “Direct Action Day” on 16 August 1946. To add fuel to the fire, he hired Muslim goons who were engaged to propagate the discord of communal hatred while darogas were transferred and Suhrawardy stationed himself in the police control room at Laalbazar. The city witnessed the worst carnage in its history as 10,000 innocent people were killed and another 50,000, left homeless. Dr Shyama Prasad Mookherjee stood firm and he was supported by like-minded disciples like Gopal Mukherjee, Ram Chatterjee and Nirmal Chatterjee among others. Mookherjee&’s resolution of “Protest at First, then Resist and Revenge” at last worked wonders and Bengal remained in India&’s map.
The movie professes to be a humble effort by the team members to remind people of Dr Shyama Prasad Mookherjee&’s political dynamism during troubled times. His slogan Ek Pradhan, Ek Nishan aur Ek Sangbidhan had national integrity and communal harmony at its heart — quite the need of the hour at this juncture in the country.
The cast is mainly drawn from professional screen actors of the Bengali film industry except for Gajendra Chauhan as Dr Shyama Prasad Mookherjee who replaced Anupam Kher Other cast members include Bodhisapta Majumdar, Biplab Chatterjee, Sudip Mukherjee, Jay Badlani, Biswajit Chakraborty, Kirshnendu Chatterjee, Sanu Dutta, Raj and Neha, and Supriya Debi in a cameo. Director Bhowmick&’s film career spans almost three decades and he has 35 films under his belt with 1946 Calcutta Killing included in the list. He is moving from strength to strength in making some more thought-provoking films in future.
Backed by a budget of more than one crore, the bilingual film Danga, The Riot, has moved a petition for the approval of the Censor Board and is now awaiting a response from the Calcutta High Court. The Bombay High Court granted full freedom of creative expression to a Bollywood film like Udta Punjab and Bhowmick is hopeful that the Calcutta High Court will settle the censorship dispute to allow the commercial release of the film before Durga Puja.