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Hazaar Chaurasi Ki Maa (1998)

Dibyanath Chatterji, his bank-employed wife, Sujata, and only child, a son, Brati, live a middle-class existence in Calcutta, West Bengal, India, circa early 1970s. Sujata is a quiet, ... See full summary »

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(based on the novel "Hazaar Churashir Ma"), (script) | 1 more credit »
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Cast

Cast overview, first billed only:
...
Sujata Chatterji
...
Dibyanath Chatterji (Brati's father)
...
Somu's mother
...
Saroj Pal, Police officer
Joy Sengupta ...
Brati Chatterji
...
Nandini Mitra
Bhakti Barve
Kanti Madia ...
(as Kanti Madija)
Vinit Kumar ...
(as Vineet Kumar)
Anupam Shyam
Lalit Parimoo
Atul Tiwari
Milon Mukhopadhyay
Mona Ambegaonkar
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Storyline

Dibyanath Chatterji, his bank-employed wife, Sujata, and only child, a son, Brati, live a middle-class existence in Calcutta, West Bengal, India, circa early 1970s. Sujata is a quiet, devout Hindu, religious, and compassionate woman, and Brati has finished his school and is now attending college. His parents are proud of him, and keep track of his progress. Then their world is shattered during the early hours, when they are informed by the police that Brati has been killed. Dibyanath and Sujata go to identify Brati's body, mourn, lament inconsolably. They know now that their lives will never be the same again - for by the police they will be called the mother and father corpse No. 1084. Sujata struggles to understand Brati's passing, meets his friends one by one, comes to know that Brati had a girlfriend, Nandini Mitra, and that's when she finds out that Brati was part of a rebel group often referred to as "Naxalbari", a militant leftist group. As she delves deeper and deeper into ... Written by rAjOo (gunwanti@hotmail.com)

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based on novel | See All (1) »

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20 March 1998 (India)  »

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Wonderful, Sensible & Sensitive!!!
12 January 2006 | by (India) – See all my reviews

Calcutta, the capital city of West Bengal, the eastern state of India. The period is 1970-72. The city is in the grip of a leftist militant movement, popularly known as the "Naxalbari Movement". The "Naxalbari Movement" began in the Naxalbari region to get minimum wages for the agricultural labour, and soon spread to other rural and urban areas of Directed by Govind Nihalani and based on Jyanpeeth award winner Mahashweta Devi's novel, Hazaar Chaurasi Ki Maa (Mother of Number 1084), is clearly one of the better films to come out of India in the recent past.

Set in Calcutta in the turbulent period of 1970-1972, when the region was much shaken by the Naxalbari movement, it tells the poignant story of a woman's quest for truth and self realization. The Maoist movement that originated in the Naxalbari region demanding minimum wages for agricultural labor had spread to urban areas in the 70's and attracted leftist intelligentsia and restless student groups. Wanting a new social order, a socialist economy and a society free of all social barriers, these youth took to the streets renouncing the lifestyles of their affluent parents. In the process, however, the movement muddled into dogmatic class-struggle theories espoused by Mao's (since disgraced)lieutenant Lin Piao and adopted violent, even murderous, tactics that completely alienated the bourgeoise and most of the general population.

A struggle that sought to free oppressed villagers from the clutches of feudal landlords soon spilled into urban homes with leftist militant youth rebelling against what they considered the complacent, hypocritical and bourgeois society.

As the film begins, Sujata Chatterji (Jaya Bachan), an upper middle class wife and mother is called to the police morgue to identify her son Brati Chatterji (Joy Sengupta). Known only as number 1084, her son is vilified by his own father, who is more concerned with hushing up the matter. The police refuse to turn over the body, and mother and daughter watch numbed as the son is cremated in a perfunctory public funeral.

The mother, beginning to question the conditions in which she herself lives, seeks out a reason for her son's passion for the revolutionary cause and sense of sacrifice for a proletariat that the family has had no connection with. Her anguish and pained bewilderment are slowly supplanted by her self-awareness andcoming to terms with her own reasons for existence.

This reviewer, never a fan of the over-the-top mannerisms that constituted Jaya Bacchan's acting style, was impressed here by her restraint and economy of movement. The integrity of her performance as the protagonist in this film reveals a sincerity and conviction that may have been unrealized in the Bollywood light comedy for which Ms. Bachhan is mostly known. Govind Nihalani must surely share the credit for tapping this actress's potential.

Seema Biswas, an enormous talent (Bandit Queen, Company), is commendable as the mother of a working class Naxalite, who is also murdered in the same encounter as Brati. Nihalani depicts the two mothers coping with their loss in their different ways, bringing out their class and cultural differences. Seema Biswas, the poor Bihari mother is warmly uninhibited both in grief and expression of affection, while Jaya Bachchan bottles up her sorrow, and is restricted in her display of emotion. While there are no cathartic outbursts,in a climactic scene, Ms. Bachhan suffers a burst appendix at the party celebrating her daughters's engagement. As she clutches her stomach and writhes in agony, her screams evoke a woman crying out in pain during childbirth.

In the novel, the story ends there. The film, striving to bring a more Cinematic closure to the tale, has the woman build a successful Human Rights organization and converting her unfeeling husband to her way of thinking.

Anupam Kher as Sujata's shallow spouse and Nandita Das as the fiery lover of Brati are quite adequate whereas Milind Gunaji as the hated cop puts forth a brutally strong performance.

The film won the National Award for the Best Hindi Film, 1997, is a must see for all lovers of meaningful cinema.


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