Eagle, Rs. 399
As the nation (read: a whole lot of Bengalis) wrapped up the 150th birth centenary of Rabindranath Tagore earlier this week, the niggling fact that the poet-writer-painter's Nobel Prize medal that was stolen in March 2004 is yet to be recovered has been forgotten. Suman Ghosh, in his delightful film Nobel Chor (Nobel Thief), wakes us from that easy amnesia and reminds us to be embarrassed. But Ghosh does much more than that. Through the story of a simple villager finding the Nobel medal at a village well near Shantiniketan, from where the medal was stolen, he tells us how the powers-that-be come in the way of and proactively make life difficult for people who want to do the right thing — in this case, return the medal to the authorities.
Mithun Chakraborty takes off his Bollywood shoes and plays the role of the illiterate Bhanu remarkably well. The scene where he spends a sleepless night after consulting with village elders about whether to go to Kolkata (where he has never ventured before) to return the medal 'to the chief minister' or sell the precious object and use the 'crores' for the upliftment of his wretched village, makes us all roll the question over on our tongues after we're done with the initial reaction that the medal 'obviously' should be returned.
Saswata Chatterjee, made famous by his role as Bob Biswas in Kahaani, plays Bhanu's nephew, Hori, who has moved to Kolkata, has married and has a love-hate relationship with the city he now lives in, underlined by the fact that he's changed his name to the more 'urban-sounding' Jeet. He is also an Everyman who tries to convince his uncle not to hand over Tagore's medal even as he helps Bhanu along his odyssey.
Nobel Chor, winner of the 2011 Best Indian Film Award at the Bengaluru International Film Festival, takes up an issue in the news but then runs with it to unfurl a lovely morality tale that leaves many questions, even as we are no closer to solving the crime and shame that should bother all Indians and not just Tagore-worshipping Bengalis.