Bengali filmmaker Arindam Sil had to fight a long hard battle to put together and release his chilling chronicle of rape-and-murder convict Dhanonjoy Chatterjee who was hanged for his crime…
Wrongly , say a lot of Kolkata’s intellectual minds. Director Arindam Sil certainly believes this was justice subverted.
“For me the journey started when I started researching and collecting newspaper data and first-person accounts on Dhanonjoy. I very distinctly remember that day in my office when I read through my material deep into the night, and emerged convinced that Dhanonjoy had been wrongly sent to the gallows.”
Arindam believes Dhanonjoy didn’t rape the alleged victim Hetal Parekh—that they had consensual sex. And he certainly didn’t kill her, says Arindam.
If not Dhanonjoy then who killed Hetal Parekh?
Arindam believes it was a case of “honour killing.”
“Dhanonjoy was like a brother in the family. To have him indulge in sexual activity with the daughter of the family was unacceptable. The case became a matter of national pride. Even the then-CM BuddhadebBattacharjee’s wife actively campaigned for Dhanonjoy’s execution.Why did it become so crucial to Bengal’s conscience to hang Dhanonjoy? I’ve left the question open at the end of my film. But the question of his guilt is raised very strongly and unambiguously.”
Does Arindam feel the film will open …
“A Pandora’s Box?” he offers. “There are many in Kolkata who believe Dhanonjoy was innocent.But yes, the Kolkata branch of the censor board refused to certify my film. In a panic I rushed to Mumbai for Mr PahlajNihalani’s help. I must say he was wonderfully co-operative. His board members asked for some cuts and my film is being released on time. I don’t mind the cuts at all.”
About the casting Arindam says it was actor Anirban Bhattacharya all the way. “I had worked with him earlier.He was in my mind from the start. I was startled by Anirban’s physical resemblance to Dhanonjoy. The rest just followed. Mine is a very dark film. And I wanted an actor who could convey the darkness of the theme without tripping over in the abyss.”