Icchapuran (The Wish Fulfillment, 1970)

Posted: September 17, 2015 in Bengali films, Mrinal Sen, Rabindranath Tagore

Mrinal Sen turned 93 a few months back…a look at the only children’s film the veteran director has made based on a Tagore story….

Ichhapuran ( The Wish fulfillment ) (1970) is based on a story by Rabindranath Tagore. It’s the only children’s film made by veteran director Mrinal Sen in his entire career. The film depicts how a person’s longings and desire can boomerang on him when it actually gets realized. The cast includes Shekar Chaterji, Surajit Nandi, Sova Sen, Sadhu Meher, Nemai Ghosh and others.

The Tagore story is a pure fantasy. Shekar Chaterji, a teacher lives in a village along with his wife (Sova Sen) and his son. He is a strict father. And his son is a mischievous lad. His son’s wayward ways is a constant source of irritation to Shekar Chaterji. Complaints from villagers about his misdeeds keep pouring in. Inspite of his strictness, Shekar Chaterji is unable to keep his son at bay. His son even dares to bunk from the class while he is teaching. His disciplinary actions create a gulf in the family relations. Both his wife and son are at loggerheads with him.

The fantasy element creeps into the narrative at this point. The father secretly desires to become youthful, and the son tired of his dad’s constant bickering longs to be a grown-up man! One night, they both have a dream. In their dream, Goddess Ichhapuran appears before them. She grants them a boon. And they ask her for what they have been secretly craving for so long. And lo, very soon as per their wishes, they both undergo changes. Shekar Chaterji gets trapped in his son’s body and becomes young, while his son receives his dad’s outward features. Only their original voices remain with them. This distinguishing feature helps Shekar Chaterji’s wife (Sova Sen) to believe this unbelievable incident when they tell her about it.

All hell breaks loose in the village. When the son goes to school, the villagers think it is the father who is attending school. And when he speaks, they find it is the voice of the son. Many villagers began considering them as ‘ghosts.’ An ‘ojha’ is called to drive out the evil spirit. The film provides some uproariously funny sequences.

This 70-minute message laden film is quite enjoyable and is a departure from Mrinalda’s usually intense works. Surprisingly, the print of this film made 30 years back was quite good when it was telecast on Alpha Bangla (sometime in early 2000).

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