indian cinema heritage foundation

Amrita Kumbher Sandhane (1982)

  • GenreDrama
  • FormatColour
  • LanguageBengali
  • Run Time129 min
  • Length3988.92 meters
  • Number of Reels15
  • Gauge35 mm
  • Censor RatingU
  • Censor Certificate Number98988
  • Certificate Date13/10/1982
  • Shooting LocationTechnicians Studio

Based on a story by Samaresh Basu, the film follows a group of people on their way to the Kumbh Mela. Shubhendu Chatterjee—also the narrator of the events that follow—is a doctor who is going to the Mela to experience life amongst the multitudes. Prahlad is another traveller on the same train. He is travelling with his family. The other travellers include Prahlad’s uncle Pachugopal Roy and Baul Balaram. On the train, everyone discusses their desire to cleanse their sins at the Mela. None of them help an old man writhing in pain. Shubhendu is the only one who approaches him. The next morning the old man is found dead. 
A group of pilgrims from Bihar enter the compartment and occupy the doctor’s seat. A young woman in the group, Shama, strikes up a conversation with Shubhendu, much to the dismay of an old man travelling with her. Shubhendu maintains a diary in which he records his daily experiences. All the passengers reach the Mela and set up tents. As the doctor explores the space, he meets many who share their suffering with him: a woman looking for her son, a man trying to come to terms with his daughter’s elopement and a woman who has fallen in love with an ascetic and is leaving her home behind to be with him.  The variety of people he is exposed to pleasantly surprises the doctor. 

Soon, he learns that Shama is the old man’s wife, as are two other women who accompany them. He meticulously records this in his diary as well. On the day the pilgrims are to immerse themselves in the confluence, the huge crowds precipitate a stampede. Shubhendu leaves his tent to see numerous people wounded and dead. In the evening, he is taking a stroll around the shores and is shocked to see a dog feasting on one of the bodies floating in the water. He sees Shama, now widowed, and she tells him to return. Reflecting on the futility of his journey, the doctor returns a changed man.