Like rivers that cascade fearlessly through landscapes that belong to different countries, like winds that blow incessantly over barbed wires, birds fly and nestle boundlessly. Borders have been built through water-bodies, fields and even houses by humans, and they are for humans.
Goutam Ghose’s National Award winning Best Bengali Film Shankhachil is a poignant tale that portrays the plight of a family in crisis. Muntasir Badal Choudhury is a reputed teacher in a village close to the border in Bangladesh. He lives with his wife Laila, and their world revolves around their daughter Rupsha who is the apple of their eyes.
He often stands on the riverbank wrapping his arm around his beloved daughter, narrating to her how unstoppable the flow of the river is. Their life is peaceful until one day they realise the border isn’t just a mere geographical reminder of the partition. The story starts rolling when they come to Kolkata for their ailing daughter’s treatment, and takes a sordid turn with the miseries the couple faces.
Shankhachil, a species of kite, is symbolic in the film. The name metaphorically exhibits the freedom of a bird that flies across borders, no nationality to bind it to one land. Only if humans could be kites, their wings spread against the azure sky, strengthening them to soar high above the border wires to distant lands they don’t need to know the names of!
The film releases simultaneously in India and Bangladesh on Poila Boisakh, the first day of Bengali New Year on April 14. Winning the Best Bengali Film accolade at the 63rd National Awards, a fortnight before the release, would help the film to do better at the box office. The producers, cast and crew are from both the nations, and that’s what strengthens the essence of the film. Shankhachil has been co-produced by Prosenjit Chatterjee and Mou Roychowdhury, and two producers from Bangladesh are Habibur Rahman Khan and Faridur Reja Sagar. Shankhachil is Ghose’s third Indo-Bangladesh venture.
The film stars Prosenjit Chatterjee in the lead role with Bangladeshi actor Kusum Sikder playing the character of his wife, and child artist Shajbati as their daughter. The cast includes Dipankar Dey, Mamunur Rashid, Prabir Mitra, Nakul Vaid, Rosey Siddiqui, Ushasie Chakraborty and Arindam Sil in pivotal roles. Priyanshu Chatterjee has made a special appearance. Music comprises of songs of the greatest poets of all times - Rabindranath Tagore, Jibanananda Das, Mukunda Das, Kazi Nazrul Islam and Rajanikanta Sen. Talented singers of the Bengali film industry and the folk-singers of Gorbahanga have lent their voices to infuse life into the lyrics. The music has been carefully chosen, and is bound to boundlessly engulf the audience in nostalgia.
After ruling the Bengali film industry for over three decades, superstar Prosenjit Chatterjee has now settled for experimental films and likes to reinvent himself as an actor with every failure. Prosenjit has acted in more than 300 Bengali feature films as the lead for the past 30 years. As Chairman and Managing Director of nideas, he has successfully produced a couple of superhit mega serials in Bengali channels. Shankhachil produced by him has bagged the National Award for Best Bengali Film this year.
Mou Roychowdhury is undoubtedly a new age ardent film producer who believes in aesthetic and meaningful films that would cut an edge in the arena of movie industry. Mou Roychowdhury’s production hallmark has always been the depiction of real life characters through the form of healthy entertainment. She has been extremely instrumental in transforming V3G Films in 2004. A few movies produced by her include Shankhachil, Shesh Boley Kichu Nei and Gorosthane Sabdhan.
Habibur Rahman Khan
In 1972 he produced his first film named Titash Ekti Nodir Nam directed by renowned Indian director Ritwik Ghatak. In 1985 he produced his first India-Bangladesh co-production film named Birodh directed by Promod Chakrabarty, a film director from Mumbai. In 1991 he produced another India-Bangladesh co-production film named Padma Nodir Majhi directed by Goutam Ghose with government of West Bengal. Padma Nodir Majhi received UNESCO award from Cannes Film Festival.
Faridur Reza Sagar
Eminent media personality, Faridur Reza Sagar is a thoroughly cultural man. He is industrious and is working relentlessly for the development of media in Bangladesh. He has played a great role after the completion of the Reminiscence Book, Ek Jiboney Television, which has covered the history of Bangladesh Television. Sagar has changed the image of the film industry, solely producing at least 100 full length Bengali feature films. In 2015, he clinched the most prestigious and highest civil award of Bangladesh.