In the pastoral expanse of rural Bengal, in Purulia district, single railroad workers and best friends Balaram (Shankar Chakraborty) and Nemai (Tapas Pal) spend their days wrestling on a hill with little work to speak of because the fact that their flag station has only a couple of trains to be flagged off or signalled to.
Wrestling, however, despite its aggression and physical combat, turns into an expression of close bonding for Nimai and Balaram, a bond already established through their complementary work at the flag station. Wrestling, for them, is a way of releasing physical energy and a form of dynamic entertainment.
Amidst wrestling, they spend their time talking with the locals, who include Padri Baba, a local Christian pastor who lives in the village church and looks after his seven-year-old orphaned nephew, Matthew. He takes him along on his bicycle when he serves the lepers, the poor and the oppressed in the village.
There is a colony of dwarfs that inhabit this peculiar and mystic village. Each morning, they can be seen crossing the hillocks and pass through the forests to catch the daily public bus and go to their respective jobs. Among them is a grinning railway guard who is always in uniform with exaggerated mannerisms, alertness and paranoia.
There are also a troupe of masked dancers who pass across the village, mutely going about their rhythmic routine. There is a world below this in the village, consisting of a bunch of bumbling poor old men, Indian Christians, who dream of travelling to America by first reaching Kolkata with a complete lack of geographical knowledge.
At this point a couple of city yobs in fashionable clothing move around in the village in their jeep, downing bottles of beer to get rid of their boredom as they go stalking, what or who, is unfolded towards the end of the film.
Balaram returns from visiting his aged aunt with wife Uttara (Jaya Seal), and her presence slowly but surely begins to tear their intense friendship building up to a disastrous, catastrophic climax. The people and their separate worlds are not really linked to one another. They appear like a collage of images that do not quite add up to make a meaningful whole. Yet, they describe, in their own way, the vulnerability of human life to greed, to lust, to violence, and ultimately death. The violent actions of the three Hindu extremists threaten the peace of the village, but a sliver of hope remains.
Uttara soon painstakingly learns the bitter truth that to both her husband Balaram and his friend Nimai, as well as to the city-bred goons, she is no more than a piece of flesh to be devoured, raped, violated and killed. Nimai, with a broken marriage before him, a marriage that exists only in remote memory, feels particularly jealous of Balaram because he has Uttara. Balaram is happy with this beautiful ‘thing’ he alone ‘possesses’ and therefore, can ‘devour’ at will, within the privacy of their bedroom, or, under the open sky against the backdrop of the fields.
With the two men’s silent squabbles over Uttara, the apparent serenity of the village is disturbed, with an onslaught of violence, murder, blood and gore. The roaring sound of the speeding jeep metamorphoses into an eruption of barbaric violence.
The two fundamentalist city yobs torch the Christian missionary Padre tying him to a pole and burning him and the whole church is set ablaze. A panic stricken Uttara cries out to Nemai and Balaram for help whilst the boy Matthew escapes unharmed. But their senses are blind and deaf and mute to the outer world and they go on wrestling.
Then as the dwarf railway guard offers Uttara hope for a better future, the goons kill him. They then chase a fleeing Uttara, rape and kill her. The scene of peaceful harmony is reduced to one of meaningless and futile violence. The camera pans to capture a glimpse of Uttara’s violated corpse, the deadbody of the kindly railway guard, the fire in the church in the remote distance.
Amidst all the scenes of death and destruction, the film ends on a moving scene of living violence. A golden sky throws the two silhouetted wrestling figures of Nimai and Balaram in relief. The circle of moral decay, of an environment that easily lets the animalistic instinct within the man out, is complete. The group of masked dancers silently wrap a fleeing Mathew into their fold as he becomes one of them, offering only a tiny glimmer of hope in a world of despair.
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