Mahasweta Devi was a prolific, eminent writer who had left an indelible mark in the conscience of people. Her numerous writings are a living testimony to the humaneness and profound understanding that she had embodied.
She was a writer par excellence, a social activist, whose works are not only widely read, appreciated, but are considered as classics; great literary pieces in Bengali literature. Her novels, short stories whether portraying the tribals, marginalised women, plight of girl child, common man, or shaming middle-class morality – showed equal vigour, depth and sheer brilliance. She was a cult figure.
Today on her 95th birth anniversary, let’s honour her much-cherished works by revisiting some of the movies that were made by both national and international directors:
Ullas: This film directed by Ishwar Chakraborty, was based on Daur, Mahadu Ekti rupkatha and Anno aranya – three short stories by Mahasweta Devi. Other than the wonderful writing, intriguing plot, stellar performance of Soumitra Chatterjee, what marks this film’s uniqueness is the fact that Mahasweta Devi made a guest appearance in the film essaying the Basuli’s goddess’ role.
Rudaali: Mahasweta Devi’s short story Rudali was so touching that it soon made its way into big screen when Kalpana Lajmi directed the Hindi film Rudaali. It depicted the professional mourners, abject poverty, patriarchy; in the truest of spirit.
Sungarsh: Based on her short story Layli Asmaner Ayna, Sungarsh was made by Harnam Singh Rawaii. This Dilip Kumar-Vyajanthimala starrer film dealt with the subject of thugee sect in Varanasi.
Maati May: This Marathi film directed by Chitra Palekar was based on Devi’s work Baayen. The role of Chandi, the protagonist who was a lower caste woman, doing the job of grave keeper was essayed by Nandita Das.
Janani: This film was directed by Sanat Dasgupta in Bengali starring Roopa Ganguly, based on the short story Baen by Devi. This movie went on to win the National Film Award.
Gangor: This Bangladeshi-born author’s work named Choli ke peeche was taken up by Italo Spinelli for his multilingual film. Revolving around gang rape, Gangor was a heartrending movie.
Winner of Sahitya Ajademi award, Padma vibhusan, Ramon Magsaysay Award, SAARC literary award, Jnanpith Award, and Padma Shri and Padma Vibhushan- this renowned author had inspired many through her writings. Her contribution was also honoured by France when they awarded her the Officier medallion by Ordre des Arts et des Lettres.