Bengal’s "Cholai" Wins Hearts at Cannes Film Festival

By J P Mandal and Asmita Mukherjee, WBRINN (newsdesk.kolkata@washingtonbanglaradio.com)

Jaspreet Kaur
Jaspreet Kaur

Kolkata, India, May 21 - Cannes Film Festival has recently got its dose of ‘Cholai’, the illegal hooch brewed in many parts of Bengal as the film of the same name got selected in the prestigious festival of movies.

Related: unINDIAN to be screened at Cannes Antipodes during Cannes 2016 as a part of its Australian focus

Jaspreet Kaur, the producer of ‘Cholai’ seemed super excited after attending the festival where she walked the red carpet with the biggest names  of  the world cinema including several Hollywood stars. Talking to WBRi over phone from Cannes , Jaspreet said, “It’s a huge moment for our team. I am happy and proud that ‘Cholai’ has made it to Cannes, one of the biggest film festivals of the world. It has been proved again that good content will always be the key to success.”

“We have chosen a social evil as our content this time and this film will certainly raise more awareness about it. “ said Jaspreet who had earlier produced films like ‘C/o Sir ‘ and ‘Bawal’.

Jaspreet Kaur and Nawazuddin Siddiqui
Jaspreet Kaur and Nawazuddin Siddiqui

About the feeling the young producer said, “The feeling of being here is indescribable.  The fact that I have walked the same red carpet with the likes of Russel Crowe and Ryan Gosling is really not sinking in.”

Directed by Arun Roy , who shot to fame overnight for his directorial venture ‘Egaro’ , ‘Cholai’  is based on the Sangrampur hooch tragedy of 2011 which claimed as many as 172 lives and leaving many others blind.

About the film Jaspreet said, “Cholai is a black comedy based on the 2011 hooch fatalities in Bengal and the bizarre repercussions following the incident. Country liquor, commonly known as ‘Cholai’ is a flourishing business in rural Bengal and has assumed the status of an organized industry. The operation syndicate of illicit liquor works through mobile manufacturing units set up in remote villages. Cheap, readily available and highly addictive - it is often manufactured and distributed with tacit political and law enforcement patronage. The story-line centers around the lives of 3 siblings Nimai, Nitai and Nata living in rural Bengal. Nimai, the eldest of the three, is a milk vendor. A simpleton and content with his life, he lives a nondescript lifestyle. Nitai is a con man and is perpetually on the run. Nata , the youngest, makes and sells Cholai for a living. With his wife doubling up as his business partner, Nata is happy with the growing addiction of the villagers to Cholai. A sudden turn of events is triggered when Nata’s wife inadvertently adulterates a batch of Cholai during the brewing process making it toxic. Within hours the silence in the village breaks into a cacophony of screams and panic stricken cries for help. People who had consumed the toxic Cholai started falling ill and before long the death toll rises to 172. Several lose their eyesight. Over enthusiastic media soon turns the incident into a social and political drama. In response to the increasing outrage of the public and the opposition, the Government rushes to launch a compensation scheme for the family members of the victims. A gold-rush ensues following the announcement – from doctors to dead body carriers everyone wants their share of the pie. Deaths due to other causes  make one ‘entitled’ for compensation if the right palms are greased with their share. The village in mourning soon transforms into a scene of greed, corruption and lies. Cholai is a roller-coaster of emotions intertwined with the lives of the victim’s families and those around them seen through the eyes of the 3 brothers. A story with a promise to leave a lasting impression . ‘Cholai’ will make the audience laugh and cry at the same time.”

The movie’s cast has a long list of acting powerhouses which includes Saswata Chatterjee, Sankar Chakrabarty, Kharaj Mukherjee, Partha Sarathi , Nimai Ghosh and Sumit Sammadar. The music of the movie has been composed by Mayukh Bhowmik and Mainak Bhowmik. The movie has Gopi Bhagat as its cinematographer while Sanglap Bhowmik has edited the movie. The movie has been produced under the Banner of KR movies.