Archive of films The Wrestlers / Uttara

2000, 99 min

Section: Horizons - Awarded Films
Year: 2001


A group of dancers in traditional masks wends its way through the countryside. Two men – Balaram and Nimai – work at an isolated railway crossing in rural Bengal. One operates the gates, the other works the signals. To pass the time of day they wrestle together. Their sport and co-existence further strengthen their seemingly rock-solid friendship. Nearby stands a small church where a Christian priest performs his duty for the local congregation. He also looks after the orphan Matthew. Each morning a group of dwarfs appear who live in a colony on the other side of the hill. One of them is a freight train guard and both wrestlers dream of being similarly promoted. One day Balaram sets out to visit a sick relative and returns home with a young wife. From this moment their simple and serene life changes. The lovely Uttara generates tension between the two men. Moreover, three Hindu extremists arrive in the village and their brutal attack on the kindly priest leads to further tragedy.

About the director

Buddhadeb Dasgupta (b. 1944) is one of the leading Indian filmmakers of the middle generation, and his films have won a number of domestic and foreign awards: e.g. Distance (Duratwa, 1978), Blind Alley (Andhi Gali, 1984) and The Red Doors (Lal Darja , 1996). He says of his film The Wrestlers, which won Best Direction at the Venice 2000 IFF and the Audience Prize at the Three Continents Festival in Nantes: “This is a film about my time, my country. It is an image of our intolerance, it tells of the eternal tension between beauty and ugliness, of dreams that cannot die. It is not just a story about violence, but also one of innocence, decency and simplicity which, however, may also become the source of destruction. We should remember that millions of people from the developing world have little idea about life beyond their frontiers, they have no awareness of even basic modern technology. These people are uneducated, superstitious, politically ignorant, yet they have profound human qualities – the capacity to love and to patiently endure suffering.”

About the film

Black & white, 35 mm

Section: Horizons - Awarded Films
Director: Buddhadeb Dasgupta
Screenplay: Buddhadeb Dasgupta
Dir. of Photography: Asim Bose
Music: Biswadeb Dasgupta
Editor: Rabi Ranjan Maitra
Producer: Dulal Roy
Production: Buddhadeb Dasgupta Productions
Cast: Jaya Seal, Tapas Mal, Shankar Chakraborty, R.I. Asad

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