Wednesday, 9 November 2022

Grihajuddha (Crossroads) [1982]

 The sub-genre of paranoia/conspiracy thrillers – covering political corruption, institutional malfeasance, sordid machinations of large corporations, covering up of inconvenient truths using compromised agencies, and unravelling of the rut, amidst an atmosphere of secrecy, disillusionment and fatalism – was incredibly relevant to the political zeitgeist of the 50, 60s and in particular the 70s. Buddhadeb Dasgupta, rooted to the Bengal/Calcutta milieu, but surely well-aware of this genre trend, amalgamated its facets into the backdrop of Naxalite movement and its explosive face-off with the industry-government nexus, into his early film Grihajuddha. Quite atypical to his oeuvre, it was gritty, confrontational, discomfiting, and defiantly positioned to the left in its bristling critique of the state, big business, and complicity of those aspiring for class transition. When a senior labour union leader, who’s stumbled upon some murky information involving the steel giant where he’s employed, dies under mysterious circumstances – ostensibly in an accident, but possibly murdered by his powerful employer – and firebrand union leader Prabir gets beaten to death by lumpen elements thereafter, lives of three people get transformed irrevocably. Nirupama (Mamata Shankar), the latter’s soft-spoken but morally resolute sister, is arm-twisted into relocating and forced into taking a job in the same organization due to severe financial stress; Bijon (Anjan Dutt), once an idealistic guy who followed Prabir and had a relationship with Nirupama, is compelled to go into hiding, but returns completely changed into a cynical guy who’s decided to move on; and Sandipan (Goutam Ghose), a journalist who’s committed to uncovering the conspiracy despite his slimy boss’ stonewalling. The film’s production and post-production aspects were rough, even stilted, at times, but its political and moral compass were fierce, uninhibited, and unwavering.

Note: My earlier review of this film can be found here.

Director: Buddhadeb Dasgupta

Genre: Thriller/Political Drama/Conspiracy Thriller

Language: Bengali

Country: India

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