A piece of history is to be notched up shortly with the international release of director Goutam Ghose's Indo-Bangla co-production, Maner Manush that had its first screening at the 41st International Film Festival of India here on Thursday. Part of the competition section, it will be released commercially simultaneously in both countries at the conclusion of the festival, becoming the first film ever to get the honour.

The film, based on the story of Sufi Lalan Fakir, was shot in both India and Bangladesh. It has leading actors from both sides including Prosenjit, Priyangshu Chatterji and Raisul Islam.

Speaking to The Hindu, Ghose said: “I went in quest of knowledge to Lalan Fakir's ancestral village of Kushtia. He composed some 10,000 songs but only about a thousand have survived. They are all without notation.”

At the IFFI screening, the film attracted great crowd and rave reviews. Ghose said, “Such a film is the need of the hour. The 21st century is the century of intolerance. There is religious intolerance, political intolerance and cultural intolerance. Lalan's message of one creator of the entire world without any divisions of caste, creed or religion is relevant to everybody.”

Based on a novel by Sunil Gangopadhyay, the film was written nearly two decades ago after the Babri Masjid was pulled down at Ayodhya in 1992. “I planned this film immediately after the demolition. I wanted to highlight the shared past, the social harmony of our land with Muslims, Buddhists, Hindus and Christians living together. But I got involved with other projects and it got delayed. However, its topicality is probably only enhanced.”

The film is said to be in the running for an award at the IFFI.

Keywords: IFFI 2010