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The Light - Swami Vivekananda (Bangla)
Cinematography and Direction: Tutu Sinha
Music: Nachiketa and Dr. Haricharan Verma
Cast: Deep Bhattacharjee, Premankur Chakraborty, Gargi Roy Choudhury, Biswajit Chakraborty, Courtney Stephens (USA)
Plot: The life and times of Swami Vivekananda
Verdict: Bold attempt but poor output
Box office Prospects: Uncertain
Indian film-maker shy away from making biopics on national leaders because (1) these films have little or no commercial viability, (2) it is difficult to find financiers and producers to finance a biopic project except in the form of a documentary, (3) film-makers in India are not historically inclined, and (4) film-makers fear politically-related and censor-related problems because interpretation of historically renowned figures often raise political controversy from the family of the person, from political parties for and against the person, or just for raising controversy.
T. Subbirami Redly produced Swami Vivekananda (1998) written and directed by G.V. Iyer. It was a very badly made film though it fetched Mithun Chakraborty the National Award for Best Supporting Actor for his wonderful portrayal of Ramkrishna Paramahamsa. Inspite of a brilliant cinematographer like Madhu Ambat and an impressive cast drawn from Hindi cinema, the film was extremely disappointing in form, content and production values. Amar Mullick had directed a Bengali version Swami Vivekananda (1955) in black-and-white which remains the only faithful and memorable documentation feature on the great spiritual leader.
The Light is different in the sense that the two actors playing Vivekananda (Deep Bhattacharjee) and Ramakrishna (Premankur Chakraborty) who have performed to the best of their abilities and look very convincing in terms of appearance, the film on the whole focuses too much on music and seems to be a platform to demonstrate the musical and lyrical talents of J. Misra of Tricolour films. The songs are many and shifts the focus from the spiritual Vivekananda to become more of the singing Vivekananda whose singing talents send his mentor and guru Ramakrisha Paramahansa into a trance each time he begins to sing. One can get to hear an entire range of lyricists from Sant Kabir to Tulsidas to Swami Vivekananda and Rabindranath Tagore that include modern lyricists and composers like Nachiketa, Ayodhyanath Pakrashi and J. Misra. The music is good but one begins to wonder whether one has come to watch a musical or a biographical feature on one of the greatest spiritual leaders of India.