If you are a kid from 'noughties' in India, Betaal Pachisi might be a familiar name to you. The 49-episode desi television series was based on the famous comic strip The Phantom. In Bengal, 'The Ghost Who Walks' has a huge fan following and it isn't without reason. The thing is that when the creator of Phantom thought of a home for the masked crime fighter in 1936, he chose to call it Bengali, a country in Asia. In the 60's the place was rechristened Bangalla and before we knew it, India had lost a superhero to Africa.
But the Bengalis wouldn't let go of their favourite superhero and 'The Man Who Cannot Die' was kept alive in a Bengali version called Aranyadeb (God of the Forest). Phantom is an important part of Bengal's pop culture and continues to enthrall kids and grown-ups alike. A reason perhaps why Dreamcity Artists have now brought the legend to celluloid with ‘Choloman Oshoriri’ or ‘The Ghost Who Walks’. A short film made on a modest budget, and promises no big names.
“Our budget being low, we couldn’t afford film actors. A reason why we chose to go with theatre artists. We could afford them and they did justice to the roles. And since they are unfamiliar it is easy to see them in unbelievable roles,” said production designer Kaushani Ganguly.
A look at the trailer and it seems that the storyline is pretty much similar to the original. However, the director Abir Roy has taken creative liberty to suit the target audience. Christopher Standish, the 28-year-old co-runner of an NGO called ‘Walker Foundation’ from Kolkata sets out to the interiors of the coastal mangrove forests of Bengal to supply free medicine to the tribals. His convoy is attacked by pirates wherein Chris' father is killed in an attempt to save his son. Thrown overboard Chris ends up in Bandar and is nursed back to health by the tribal doctor Shukhiya Guran. Chris seeks revenge and Phantom is born. Debutant actor Sagardeep Roy essays the role of 'The Guardian Of The Eastern Dark.'
So far the character has been adapted for film only once. The 1996 film was directed by Simon Wincer. American actor Billy Zane played the titular role and the film received mixed reviews from critics leading to financial disappointment at the box office.
Dreamcity Artists have already produced a viral docufiction ‘Feluda Utthan’ which was based on works and characters created by Satyajit Ray. Since ‘Choloman Oshoriri’ is almost complete, they are thinking of adapting 'Khagam', another short story by Ray. Choloman Oshoriri releases this November on YouTube.