After a series of stylistically complex, politically oriented experiments with modes of cinematic storytelling, Sen achieved this controlled yet seductive allegorical tale shot in vibrant colours. Set in the 30s in Orissa with echoes of the Santhal revolt, a tribal hunter, Ghinua (Chakraborty) feels a kinship with a middle- aged British colonial administrator (Wright) who is equally passionate about hunting and perhaps also attracted to the vigorous young man. Protected by colonial notions of law and order, the moneylender Bhuban Sardar (Meher) pursues a tribal rebel (Bhanja) and legally murders him, taking his head to the Administrator for his reward. When Ghinua’s wife (Shankar) is seized by the greedy moneylender in lieu of payment, the young man hunts down the villain and proudly takes the villain’s head as a hunting trophy to the British officer, claiming he has rid the jungle of its most savage beast. The young hero in his turn becomes the prey of colonial justice. Made during the Emergency, the film’s ramifications go beyond the depiction of a clash of cultures, advocating resistance against the imposition of an administrative tyranny that ends up recompensing the perpetrators of injustice. First major role by Mithun Chakraborty, later a Hindi cinema star associated with disco musicals.
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The film won Best Feature Film and Best Actor at the 24th National Film Awards. It also won the Filmfare Critics Award for Best Movie apart from being nominated for the Golden Prize at the 10th Moscow International Film Festival in 1977. Read More