WBRi Bangla Movie Review: ULLAS (2012) - Satabdi Roy Links Three Tribal Stories by Mahasweta Devi

Ullash (Ullas) 2012 Bengali Film Poster

Kolkata, July 2, 2012 (Washington Bangla Radio / Penning Creations) Ullash, the silver screen adaptation of three stories of Mahasweta Devi, released in theaters this Friday. The movie comprises three different stories set in different geographical locations. The stories narrate the tales of different tribes of the country.

The film is narrated through the eyes of Ms. Sumitra (Satabdi Roy), a TV reporter. She is the only common link between the different stories.

The first part of the film centers around the tribe called Nishabd, based in the forests of Orissa. The protagonist of the story, Kanna (Amit Das), is a tribal youth who drops to death during his physical test for the job of constable. On his way to the morgue, Kanna suddenly wakes up from his deathbed to complete his test. He finishes near a Mahua tree in his own locality and asks for the result of his run.

The second story centers around the tribe called Korku in Maharashtra. Because of deforestation, they are forced to survive on unfamiliar food. As a result, they develop a genetic disorder, called the Sickle Cell Syndrome. Mahadu, a tribal youth, falls prey to the disease and is taken to the medical clinic in Mumbai. After having medicine and nutrition, he takes the form of a giant and marches back towards his homeland.  During his journey, he destroys all buildings and constructions that were made after destroying the native trees of the forest.

The last story narrates a tale related to the Lodha tribe of West Bengal. As a result of deforestation, a young girl Anna (Sadhana Hazra) is forced to leave her ancestral house. She finds shelter in the house of a rich wood merchant, Dikpal. Here, however, she faces sexual harassment. Anna asks for justice to the trees of the forest. They respond to her plea and fight for her cause against the wood merchant.

Coming to the theme of the movie, the story tells the plight of the lesser known tribes of the country. Various aspects of their lives, like lifestyle, food habits and their desperate fight to survive have been portrayed in a vivid way. The entire plight of those tribes is described through some of their regular activities.

The acting was really praiseworthy with some attention grabbing performances from the newcomers. Veteran actors like Satabdi Roy, Tapas Pal, Biplab Chatterjee, and Sankar have justified their roles completely. Among the newcomers, Amit Das has done a really brilliant job. Sadhana Hazra also did the role in a brilliant way.  Soumitra Chatterjee has done a brilliant job in his very short role as a scientist.

The dialogs were delivered in the regional languages of the particular regions shown in the movie. It gives a special touch to the spirit of the movie. Regarding the technical part of the movie, the cinematography is really excellent. All the aspects of forest and tribal life are captured in a brilliant manner. The background music is up to the mark and catches the spirit of the moment. However, the storytelling technique definitely had scope for improvement, making Ullas somewhat of a letdown.

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