Naxalgia and Madhu Chakra in Meghnadbodh Rohoshya: A Critical Review
Abstract: This essay both pits Anik Datta’s movie Meghnadbodh Rohoshyo against other literary works dealing with the Naxal question and examines its intertextuality to understand the multifaceted theme of political betrayal that subsumes the armed insurgency. On May 25, 1967, a group of tribal sharecroppers in an Indian village called Naxalbari under the state of West Bengal resisted the landowners from getting their yield. The protest got 11 villagers killed, and spun off into a violent insurgency aimed at the annihilation of the people’s enemy, and eventually exposed the Marxist/Maoist divide in the Communist Party of India. Released on the fiftieth year of the Naxalbari Movement, Anik Datta’s movie tackles some of the unresolved conflicts of the past by giving them human faces. He uses the genre of mystery films to attempt an “objective” analysis of the nuanced truth behind one symbolic betrayal that failed the movement. Datta narrates the story of a defector who left his idealist activism to settle for a comfortable and successful life abroad. The protagonist’s defection serves as a parallel to the way the Bengali renaissance figure Michael Madhusudan Dutt left his religion, country, and language for Europe and wrote in English. Anik Datta, however, focuses on Madhusudan’s epic Meghnadbodh Kabya (The Slaughter of Meghnadh), where the heroic code of a warrior clan is betrayed, and uses it as a temporal frame to negotiate with the present. This article critiques the multiplicity of exchanges between Madhusudan’s epic and a contemporary tale of betrayal as found in Anik Datta’s film to comment on the cultural and political components of the Naxalite movement and the nostalgia associated with it.
Keywords: Naxalite, Naxalgia, Madhusudan Dutt, Maoism, Marxism, Communist Party of India, habitus, cultural capital
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Published in March 2020