Biopic of Michael Madhusudhan Dutt (1824-73), a major and colourful Bengali poet. Regarded as the founder of the modern Bengali theatre with his plays Sarmistha (1858), staged by the Belgatchia Theatre, followed by Krishna Kumari, the farce Ekey Ki Bole Sabhyata etc. A student at the Hindu College, he wrote his first poems in English (e.g. the narrative poem Captive Ladie, 1849). He later wrote the epic Meghnadbad Kavya (1861), the Homeric epic in blank verse Tilottama Sambhab Kavya (1860), the Radha and Krishna love story, Brajangana (1861) and Birangana (1862). Two stage biographicals precede the film: one by Netal Bhattacharya (1943) with the great Sisir Bhaduri playing the poet, the other by Mahendra Gupta (1942) featuring Ahindra Choudhury in the lead. Following Banaphool’s popular play, the film depicts the poet as a romantic rebel and chronicles the high points of his adventure-laden career: his baptism, his romance and marriage to the Frenchwoman Emilia Henrietta, and his tragic death. Most notable for Utpal Dutt’s remarkable screen debut as the poet, including several recitations of poetry. Dutt, often credited with having renovated acting in Bengali theatre and film, went on to identify himself with Michael Madhusudhan (cf. his play Danrao Pathikbar, 1980, harking back to the film’s iconography). The popular genre of screen biographicals was continued by Bose in Bireshwar Vivekananda (1964), Bijoy Basu’s Raja Rammohun (1965) and Piyush Bose’s Subhashchandra (1966).
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