Chander Pahar an extraordinary adventure novel by Bibhutibhushan Bandopadhyay, has finally been converted into a film. The writer had never been to African but his research work had made the novel a classic. The whole journey of Bengali film industry reflects its rise through the films of today. The evolution is beautiful to watch out for. The sole reason that the film has been based on the famous novel itself is enough to draw huge crowds of all age to the theatre halls. The story is set in the 1900s and revolves around a young man Shankar (played by Dev) from a village in Bengal and his dream of travelling the world. He finds a job in Uganda railways as a station master in a desolate station in Africa, and eventually steps out for an adventure with another man. In his solitude Shankar used to read books and roam around in the nearby area with a gun as an only protection from man-eater lions and other dangerous animals. He made friends with the Massai and Zolo tribes,to help his unprotected livelihood. One day during his travelling around he found a man asleep and sick on a tree to be attacked by cheetahs and hyenas any moment, he saved him and brought him into his own cottage and took good care of him. From the man, Diego Alvarez, who was a Portuguese explorer, Shankar learnt a lot about his past and a bone chilling story of an adventure to the “mountain of the moon” in search of diamonds. Hearing this story Shankar get ready to leave his boring job of a station master who has to only attend to one train a day, and plans to set out for the diamond mine. On their way to the diamond mine they discover a volcano which was never known to exist until then. Shankar’s experience of the journey to the mine and form it back home is worth watching out for.
Dev’s acting though in the beginning seemed not up to the mark, was good enough with the development of the film. The controversy of whether Dev can fit into this role can be side tracked once you have watched the film. South African actor Gerard Rudolph plays Diego and also picks up the trouble of speaking little bit of Bengali with Shankar. The animation wasn’t as good as the Hollywood films but could pass as quite well in the Tollywood. The bunyip looked horribly ugly, just the way a monster is supposed to look.
The cinematography of Chander Pahar by Soumik Haldar is absolutely wonderful; if not anything else do go for the film just to watch the camera work. The locations for the shooting were equally awesome; the waterfalls the dangerous lion, the giraffes, the Black Mamba, the tiny insects and the hyenas were captured perfectly. Some of my favourite shots were the scene when the huge lion was standing just above the Indian man, Shankar had made friends with; when Shankar was crossing over to another side of the hill walking over a tree truck bridge to save Diego; and the shot of the rocks dropping down to the water body when Shankar and Diego were climbing the rocky walls of the waterfalls; and also towards the end of the film when Shankar is starving and screams out loud for help.
The direction by Kamaleshwar Mukherjee was quite good and also explains the development and rise in the maturity level of Dev’s acting skills. Though many would claim that the film was not as good as the description of the story, but the mental image formation of one person always differs from the other, so we can never say whose idea is more picturesque, it just depends on the beholder’s perception. The music was very apt; I loved it throughout the film. There were no songs until the end, but the sole music was very gripping. The use of African music was a clever choice; credit goes to the music directors Indradeep Dasgupta and Debojyoti Mishra. The editing by Raviranjan Maitra was also good except for a few times when it seemed that a scene started off without waiting for the previous one to end, that was disturbing for the viewers.
Story- 10/10 Direction- 9/10 Acting- 7.5/10 Music- 9/10 Cinematography- 9.5/10 Editing-8.10