Plot summary[ edit ] This novel tells the story of an ordinary young Bengali man, Shankar Roy Chaudhary, as he adventures in Africa in the years and Shankar loves the subject of geography, he wants to follow the footsteps of renowned explorers like Livingstone , Mungo Park , and Marco Polo. He wants to explore the wilderness, passionate for learning about African forests and animals. By a stroke of luck, he gets a job as a clerk at the Uganda Railway and rushes to Africa without a second thought. After a few months laying rail tracks, he encounters the first of many dangers in pre- World War I Africa: a man-eating lion.
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The story is set in From my getup dhoti-panjabi and jhola to body language to hairstyle — everything had to reflect the era Shankar hailed from. Shankar loves adventure, forests and animals. The director wanted to see that passion in my eyes.
But he even compared the project to a "double-edged sword" as he realised the challenges while looking for locations in South Africa for a month. As a result, it was decided that actor Dev would play the role of Shankar. For this very special project, Kamaleshwar has a Maasai proverb in mind: "If you are not living on the edge, you are taking up too much space. They needed an athletic body for the role of Shankar because in the book it is mentioned that Shankar was into boxing and he knew horse riding and swimming.
Dev was learning horse riding and he is good in action scenes. Therefore, finally he was chosen to be cast as Shankar. Dev also agreed to do that as he was brought the offer. But he was asked to lose weight because in the latter part of the film, Shankar fights with lions, walks through jungles and mountains, and almost starves.
He never flinches from any challenge or danger. Be it fighting the African lion or duelling on the cliff, and that too without a body double. It took a lot of time to decide who was going to play the role of Diego Alvarez , the Portuguese explorer, who has a supporting role. But they simply could not make it due to lack of budget. The film is made on a whooping fifteen crore budget.
The cost is a big factor for the making of this film. There is a lion in the film which was acquired for six lakh rupees per day. Hence without a good budget, making Chander Pahar was impossible.
The budget of Chander Pahar was the highest in Bengali Cinema till its release in The film is produced by Shree Venkatesh Films and is shot at locations in Africa. The film would reportedly incorporate computer-generated imagery and visual effects at par with Hollywood and Bollywood standards.
According to The Times of India , it will be high-budget and have computer graphics that no one has seen before in a Bengali film. Upon questioning, he said, "Before the shooting of the film which contains a large amount of risks, team Chander Pahar wanted a party with the presence of all the crew and artists.
Being afraid will mean no shooting for the project. Though a lot of scenes involve risks, the crew was very tense about this particular scene.
The chase sequence was filmed at an animal farm for three days. During this scene, the director and cinematographer stayed in an open cage with three sides closed. The distance between Dev and the lions was measured by the examiner of the lions. Pieces of meat were used to tempt them. Dev had to run as the director said "Action", with six lions chasing him. Then he had to enter the cage while running and the opening of the cage was shut immediately. The lions used were not given food for three days.
And he reprimanded me on this count. Shooting included a real Black mamba. The most threatening fact was that the venom of Black mamba cannot be taken out. Thus, shooting of Chander Pahar has a life-threatening sequence with a venomous snake. Mukherjee added that the largest risk in this sequence will be of the cinematographer , Soumik Haldar, who confidently said that he will be positively doing his work since he had already decided to do that.
It was later revealed that, to prevent risk, a glass sheet was over the snake and the camera so that, if the snake attacks, the sheet will be dropped. The grassland , where the shooting took place its very danderous, is full of snakes; most of the crew was afraid. Abhishek Daga, the executive producer said that carbolic acid will be used where the shooting will take place, and everyone will wear ankle-high boots.
Small base camps were made for the shooting, where the crew members stayed. They were surrounded by electric fences because lions may destroy them if angry and it has occurred before. Other than lions and Black mamba , shooting featured other wild animals such as Python , hyena , crocodile , cheetah , hippopotamus , Puff adder , viper and wild scorpions , some of which are extremely venomous.
A year-old Bengali boy named Sundar trained the hyenas. There is so much risk in the shooting that the crew is bound to keep mobile phones and ambulances so that they can be taken to a hospital. Even it is said that helicopters would be kept so that no time is wasted.
If the elephants somehow get angry, no one will return alive! The favorite thing of African elephants is oranges: Oranges were thrown towards the sky from a distance to attract their attention. As the elephants will run to get the oranges, Dev has to run preceding them. Kamaleshwar added, "The local stuntmen assured us that there is nothing to fear. Once they raise their hands and tell the elephants to stop, the herd of elephants will stop immediately.
Otherwise, we cannot return once there is darkness over the red desert. The place is so impassable that there is no sign of roads. We will get lost. Over that, the day temperature there is 50 degrees. And the night temperature is 4 degrees," said Kamaleshwar Mukherjee before the filming. Other than the Kalahari Desert part, the film features actor Dev in a rock climbing sequence. It was shot at such a mountain that, if one fell, he would go down feet.
There is also a sequence of Dev inside an old cave with a Python. Use of sunglasses, deodorant , and aftershave was strictly prohibited at shooting as it may disturb the wild animals. Smoking is strictly prohibited as a preventive to forest fires.
No wild animal can be used for shooting for over 2 hours. Eating any sorts of non-veg food items and even using tomato sauce is forbidden as their scent may distract the wild animals. Electric fences should surround every shooting location. Carbolic acid should be used in every shooting location to prevent the entry of snakes. In the novel, Richtersveld mountains were mentioned. Director Kamaleshwar Mukherjee instead used Drakensberg Mountains for the purpose.
For the filming of Chander Pahar, the team camped at places in South Africa for a month. Some places near Johannesburg were finalised. The film was also shot in Kenya and Uganda. Drakensberg has numerous valleys, water bodies and trails that could serve for the famous Richtersveld Mountains described in the novel. The Sentinel peak and KwaZulu-Natal offer brilliant vistas, but visually, the Kalahari is the most stunning. There is one single lodging facility about three hours away from the core area.
But we will shoot there anyway.
Chander Pahar By Bibhutibhushan Bandopadhyay
Chaander Pahar (2013)