Devi Chowdhurani's motion poster unveiled at Cannes
Apart from Bengali, the film will be dubbed in Hindi, English, Tamil, Telugu, Kannada and Malayalam, for simultaneous global release.
For the first time in the history of Bengali cinema, the motion poster of Devi Chowdhurani (Bandit Queen Of Bengal) was unveiled yesterday, May 22, to the world media and international audience at the India Pavilion in Marche du Films, Cannes 2023.
Indian National Film Award winning director Subhrajit Mitra teams up with ADited Motion Pictures, a L.A. based production house to bring Devi Chowdhurani (Bandit Queen of Bengal), first pan-Indian Bengali movie based on the lesser known chapters of the Indian freedom fight. The film, based on a novel by Bankim Chandra Chattopadhyay, starring Prosenjit Chatterjee as Bhavani Charan Pathak, Srabanti Chatterjee as Devi Chowdhurani, Sabyasachi Chakrabarty as Zamindar Haraballav Roy, the film will be dubbed in Hindi, English, Tamil, Telugu, Kannada and Malayalam, apart from Bengali for simultaneous global release.
Subhrajit was studying and researching on the Battle of Plassey, Battle of Buxar, The Great Bengal Famine of 1770 and the Sanyasi and Fakir Rebellion which spans across this era, which includes the advent and invasion of the British East India Company in India in its early years. Co-incidentally Anandamath and Devi Chowdhurani by Bankim Chandra Chattopadhyay are based on the similar timescale where he finds the later more appealing in terms of a film.
The novel narrates a journey of a simple village lass who eventually becomes the first Indian woman freedom fighter, historically, against the colonial rule in India in the later part of the 18th century, much before Laxmi Bai of Jhansi. He felt this story through his cinematic interpretation would be his humble homage to his Motherland on the 75th year of independence. It also tells the story of the Hindu ascetic monks who had no other option but to take up arms against the British colonial rules to save the country and her people. It was the first armed revolution by the Indians, led by Bhavani Charan Pathak, against the British East India Company.
Subhrajit only had to adapt the storyline into the alternative historical interpretation. The basic plotline remains the same but almost 80% of the film is closer to the actual history, rather than the 21 Page novel. It is built on the premise of “what might have actually happened”. Chattopadhyay wrote the novel almost 100 years after the original incidents. He had to study extensively from the archives of East India Company in London, several texts and manuscripts from Asiatic society, British Library, Victoria Memorial and Indian Museum.
Subhrajit says, “Devi Chowdhurani gives me the opportunity to get me out of my comfort zone. It is much bigger canvas than my last film, it is actually a part of our lesser-known-history. After winning my National award for my last film Avijatrik (The Wanderlust of Apu), I wanted to tell this story, the urge was intense. I wanted to make a very realistic film on this novel and the time period which portrays a plausible historical reconstruction. I am fascinated by the films of similar genre by the master directors such as Akira Kurosawa and Ridley Scott. We do have a dearth of these kinds of films in Indian cinema barring a few such as Junoon by Shyam Benegal or Satranj Ki Khiladi by Satyajit Ray. We Indians tends to go overboard with the historical fictions and lacks the cinematic approach which can fetch international appreciation. I wish not to delve into that path.”
Actor Prosenjit Chatterjee says, “When Subhrajit first narrated the script to me , I was fascinated with its mounting and visualisation. This is a very ambitious project. He is very sorted in his mind about what he wants and it is written clearly in the scripts as well. With my involvement in this film as the main male protagonist I wish to see Bengali films to a new height.”
Srabanti Chatterjee, who plays the titular character, adds to it, “This is a dream come true character for every actress and I am grateful to Subhrajit for casting me in this epic film as the titular character. I was overwhelmed when he narrated the script and I could visualise me and the scenes as it is written so well. I always wanted to work with such a renowned national award-winning director like him, as like every other big star in our industry. This film will be a milestone in my long career and I am ready to give my full potential to portray this historic character.”
While the pre-production work started in January 2023, the principal photography is slated to take place in the post-monsoon seasons, autumn 2023 onwards. The film is slated for a big International premiere in summer 2024, at a major European international film festival followed by several international festival rounds and Domestic and North America, UK, UAE release is slated for autumn/winter 2024.