Lahiri’s seminal Bengali play, with which Sombhu Mitra launched his Bohurupee theatre group, was first staged when the CPI’s ‘left- wing deviation’ was causing many key IPTA figures, including Mitra and Bijon Bhattacharya, to leave the organisation. The play continued the IPTA’s experiments with realism and was set in a colliery’s teashop over two days. The events are mainly seen through the eyes of a failed and disillusioned writer, Ashim Roy (Mitra), who ends up fighting for an injured worker’s compensation rights and eventually becomes a heroic figure for the miners. The film version deploys a voice-over quoting from Ashim’s diary and features characters speaking in several languages and accents. It deviates from the play in adding an encounter between Ashim and a criminal, Atmaram, and it has an upbeat ending with the workers pushing the wounded Ashim in a broken-down motor car towards the hospital. Bose’s tightly edited film orchestrates indoor space via intricate tracking shots and an extensive use of different focal depths, although the studio scenes are not always well integrated into the many outdoor scenes.
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