Long ago Greek philosopher Protagoras stated, “Man is the measure of all things”.
Award winning International Filmmaker & actor Rajaditya Banerjee (younger brother of late filmmaker Bappaditya Bandopadhyay) gave a new dimension to this philosophy through his recent film “ShibaRatri” where he wants to convey his audience the message of “globalization of humanity”.
Rajaditya’s debut film “Death certificate” the first ever art house feature film in Kurmali language received world-wide critical acclamation as well as international awards and accolades from various European and American Film Festivals.
ShibaRatri, Rajaditya’s first venture in his mother tongue Bengali, is a vivid portrayal of oppression, pain, exploitation and quelling in our society, the existential crisis, the love that is lost leaving behind ravaged souls.
Shot in the backdrop of rugged terrain of Purulia – Jharkhand, the untainted nature has always been an attribute of Rajaditya’s screenplay; be it Death Certificate or ShibaRatri.
The story revolves around Sitanpur, a sparsely populated sleepy hamlet in the cradle of the mountains that suddenly transforms into valley of death. An abandoned dead body lying adjacent to the railway track with a poster written in red- ink lying by its side aroused suspicion in the minds of local residents of Sitanpur. Is it an accident or a cold blooded murder?
An air of eeriness encroaches Sitanpur. Police started investigating the murder. However before they could resolve the first murder mystery, more murders took place in Sitanpur.
Every murder followed a same pattern and the poster with the same poetry written in red-ink was found beside the body :
“I’m waging a war.I’m not asking for your support.
All I’m saying is ponder why does a man need to wage a war?”
The situation keeps getting worse. Inspector Satyen and his boss Ramgopalbabu arrived in Sitanpur to take stock of things.
Satyen is a competent as well as a ruthless cop. Taking law in his hands he started eliminating suspects through fake encounters and extra- judicial killing. He suspected a secessionist group was responsible for these killings
With each passing day, Sitanpur was getting encumbered with the anticipation of war, terror and death.
In course of investigation of the serial killing ,Satyen met Madhuban, a middle aged inconspicuous fellow . Madhuban lived in a quaint house amidst the greenery underneath a picturesque hill. Outside the house Satyen observed a striking Shiva- Parvati mural.
When interrogated by him Madhuban confessed he was an artist and ran a theater and folk dance “Chhou” ensemble ‘Keu na’ (Nobody)He also said that the locals lovingly call him ‘Madhu’. He often goes out – station to places like Jharsuguda or Rourkela with his troupe for performance. However ‘Keu na’ the strange name of Madhuban’s group, evoked a premonition in Satyen’s mind. It seemed to conceal its own existence from the world.
Satyen’s wife Anjali endowed with the gracefulness and gentleness of feminism, who accompanied Satyen to Sitanpur after her marriage is a painter and teacher. Unlike her husband, Anjali is calm, serene and sensitive and dreams of a better world. She loves to read poems of Debashish Bandopadhyay, and Bhaskar Chakraborty.
Her mind and soul is not restrained with the shackles of her habitual conjugal life. And therefore, every night even after being sexually abused by Satyen, Anjali still dreams of the man of her love walking away wearing the mask of Lord Shiva. She loves to paint and thus makes repeated futile attempts of creating ‘Ardhanarishwar’. But she ends up only in depicting Parbati. There is no existence of Shiva in Anjali’s life.
After arriving in Sitanpur, Anjali meets Jiban a young boy with loads of dreams. She comes to know about Madhuban. She discovers Madhuban’s abandoned diaries and falls for him . But who is Madhuban? Is he a revolutionary like his idol Che Guevara? Is he a member of a leftist guerrila group? Or is he merely an artist?
Will Anjali meet Madhuban? Does he have a secret lover? IB says a top secessionist leader is expected in Sitanpur at the end of Shravan mela. Who will visit Sitanpur? Will Shivratri truly mark the obliteration of the darkness and ignorance in life and society?
To satiate all these curiosities, one needs to watch the socio- political thriller Shibaratri by Rajaditya Banerjee.The filmmaker has wonderfully painted love, lust, insurgence, revenge leading to extermination on celluloid. An illustration of morally and ideally impoverished, deprived society that disregards humanity, love, freedom of expression.
Casting of the film is equally appreciable like the story Madhuban, the main protagonist of the film is being enacted by Rajaditya Banerjee, the director himself.
A postgraduate degree holder from the prestigious Presidency University of Kolkata coupled with a Diploma in Filmmaking from Baltic Film & Media School, Estonia, Rajaditya hails from the world of theatre. A versatile actor , he has performed in several plays in Europe and the United States.
His characterization of Madhuban bears the testimony of his acting prowess and expertise. Rajaditya is also a proficient screenplay writer. Although the film is adapted from the short story ‘Shibaratri’ written by the famous author Debashish Bandopadhyay (incidentally Rajaditya’s late father) screenplay and dialogues are penned by Rajaditya himself.
The films also stars Suman Banerjee (of TV serials Fagun Bou & Andarmahal fame) and Parthasarathy Kumar.
The film marks the debut of talented child artist and dancer Arian Dutta as Jibon. The director is excited about Arian’s performance and feels he has a bright career ahead of him.
In his debut film Death Certificate, Rajaditya has depicted the poignant scenario of the marginalized class of our country, how they are still sunken in darkness of inhumanity and deprivation as India strides in globalization of technology.
ShibaRatri is yet another protest against the prevailing social disparity and injustice; an exploration to the deep- rooted reasons behind Separatism? Why do an artist transform to a combatant in a movement? Why do a person relinquishing his inherent sensitivity and innocence take up arms and ammunitions in his hand?
Is it only the thirst for blood or a conflict of power or is it a catharsis, an answer to many years of accrued oppression, exploitation extortion by the materialistic civilization?
The revolution, the bloodshed not only incurs the loss of lives but silently speaks about the decadence of morality, humane values that sowed the seeds of such extremism. Artist Madhuban in Shivratri is not just a isolated character but it epitomizes the existential crisis of a creator who probably embarked his journey of destruction under brutal social circumstances in order to preserve a better world for the upcoming generations.
Amidst all the atrocities, despair, struggle and violence, Rajaditya is still hopeful and thus his earnest appeal to his audience:
Can we liberate India from the clutches of inhumanity and discrimination?
What is art’s place in a world that seems so consumed by materialism, indifference & violence?
Rajaditya Banerjee Filmography
- India born Rajaditya is a theater artist turned filmmaker. Death Certificate (2017) is his debut experimental feature film. Finland based Rajaditya has regularly performed in theatres in India, Finland & USA. He has acted in 3 short films, besides writing and directing numerous plays.
- He holds a Master’s Degree (MA) in Indian History from the University of Calcutta (India) and has a diploma in Digital Filmmaking from The Baltic Film & Media School, University of Tallinn, Estonia.
- Rajaditya comes from a family of filmmakers. His late brother Bappaditya Bandopadhyay was a renowned independent filmmaker in India whose films were shown in many international festivals including Fribourgh, Singapore , IFFI, Goa, Montreal World Film Fest etc.
A supporter of humanity, he is also a poet and wishes to present incredible stories of hope, courage and triumph of human spirit to global audience through his cinema.
Death Certificate (2017, feature) Screenplay & Direction. Screened in several film festivals across the globe: New York, Toronto, Los Angleses, Melbourne, Italy, France, Mumbai, Pune, Kolkata, Bangalore, Sweden, Finland, Denmark, UK |
Best Film on Women Empowerment, Jharkhand Intnl Film Festival 2018
Best Regional Film Jharkhand IFF
Best Film on Social Issue Delhi International Film Fest 2018
Best woman centric film Toronto, Canada awarded by Indo Canadian Arts & Culture Initiative (ICACI)
Certificate of appreciation from Harinder Malhi, Member of Provincial Canadian Parliament, Toronto, Canada for empowerment of women.
Shobbahika (2018, Feature) : Written & Directed |
ShibaRatri (2018, Feature) : Screenplay & Direction |Documentaries: The Death of Death (2017) | One Day in India (2017) |
Numerous Promo films, Ads….
Shorts (Acted): Lovers (2015, Estonia-Japan) | Life (2014, India) | Casual Friday (Finland) 2015 |
Death of a Salesman | Zoo Story (adapted: Mr.I’ve been to the Zoo), I Didn’t Return home,
Silent Genocide (Megh Tomar Desh Kothai ?) , It’s about to Rain (Bristi Asche)