Click Play to watch Nigel Akkara "Vicky" Chat with WBRi about Bangla Movie Muktadhara (2012)
Kolkata, July 30, 2012 (Washington Bangla Radio) Nigel Akkara aka Vicky is the irresistibly handsome lead actor in Nandita Roy and Shiboprosad Mukherjee's Bengali feature film Muktodhara (2012). He plays Yusuf Mohammad Khan, a prison convict who, like Nigel in real
life and also like the famous bandit Ratnakar who later became sage
Valmiki, has great inner conflict. Nigel spent almost a decade incarcerated in a prison after being arrested and sentenced in his early 20s for some seventeen counts of felony, including kidnapping, extortion and accessory to murder. Among his most infamous deeds was his involvement in abduction and murder of Kishore Hirawat, the son of a rich Jute merchant, in 2000 (it was one of Nigel's gang members that pulled the trigger that killed Hirawat). The incident was reported in The Telegraph daily in 2000.
Nigel's turnaround started with an initiative of the famous Odissi dancer Alokananda Roy who took up a path-breaking project of culture therapy of Presidency jail inmates in 2007. As Nigel describes in this interview, after initially being received with suspicion, Roy won the hearts of the inmates and progressed from "Madam" to become the mother figure "Ma" - coincidentally this process took around nine months!
Nigel was taken outside the penitentiary temporarily by Roy to perform with her dance troupe at the Uday Shankar Dance Festival at Rabindra Sadan towards the end of 2007. An enraptured audience propelled Nigel into emotional and moral metamorphosis, further reinforced by his role of Maharshi Valmiki in Roy's next project Valmiki Pratibha which was staged numerous times with Nigel playing the title role.
Muktadhara is also another "great, strange and life-changing" experience for Nigel - he rightly points out that the film provides a vehicle to spread greater awareness of the challenges faced by ex-convicts who have served their sentences in integrating back into mainstream society.
Muktadhara (Bengali, 2012) is unprecedented in the sense it casts an ex-convict in a leading role. The film is directed by Nandita Roy and Shiboprosad Mukherjee (of Icche fame). Nigel's co-actors include Rituparna Sengupta, Bratya Basu, Debshankar Halder, Kharaj Mukherjee and more.