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Among the 230 million Bengali-speakers around the world, Nobel laureate Rabindranath Tagore's classic dance musical Shyama has a status similar to Shakespeare's Romeo & Juliet among English-speakers. Several of the songs it contains are popular favourites in their own right.
Perhaps best described as a cross between opera and ballet, Shyama was Tagore's last major work for the stage. It reflects his artistic and philosophical reaction to both the turbulence of pre-Independence India and Hitler's persecution of Jews in Germany.
The plot, which is based on a Buddhist legend, centres on Shyama, a court dancer who falls in love with a foreign merchant who is falsely imprisoned and faces execution ... unless Shyama accepts her admirer's offer to take the merchant's place.
This colourful, authentic, widescreen feature-film version stars Kaberi Chatterjee in the title role with TS Vasunni, K Jatindra (Jiten) Singh and Basanta Mukherjee. All versions of the film have the original Bengali soundtrack with subtitles in all languages other than Bengali. The DVD contains the full English, Bengali and Spanish versions as well as the French, German, Hungarian, Italian and Portuguese subtitles.
Kaberi Chatterjee, T K Vasunni, K Jatindra (Jiten) Singh, Basanta Mukherjee
Kolkata International Film Festival 2009