It is indeed sheer pleasure to see Mithun Chakroborty play a fearless young tribal man, proud and noble, exuding raw energy in every frame in a simple langooti [loincloth] in Mrigaya. This is athe role for which he won a National Award and that too when this was his debut film.
So begins the Royal Hunt [Mrigaya], a proud warrior on a quest alone against a corrupt system, a solo young man in search of justice even if it has to be self acquired and a landmark in world cinema.
One can say so because the remarkable similarities between this movie and Apocalypto are too many to be coincidental, only Mel Gibson has not given any comments on his inspiration.
The subplot of his brief friendship with the local Anglo administrator who befriends him and becomes his ardent admirer in respect of his unique hunting talent is a very relevant comet on the colonisation of India and the evils and benefits we derived from that experience. The sympathetic English woman who plays the wife of the commissioner is a symbol for the virtues the British brought to India along with the corruptions as well.
The setting is natural, no sets are erected, and it’s the adivasi village and the colonial mansion and the forest which is the playground for this master class in how to direct an entertaining movie on a shoestring budget.
The symbolic white costumes reflect the purity of the two main characters, as does the rest of the simple yet totally relevant wardrobe used in the movie, the whites contrast brilliantly with the beautiful black Dravidians bodies of Mithun and Mamta, a tribute to the natives of the sub-continent.
The cinematographer is superb in the manner he conveys the calm and quiet, yet the frenzy of the climax, the movie is shot in various techniques, maybe one of the first movies in India where the camera is being handheld to convey the feelings and experiences of the characters directly to the audience.
The background musical score is authentically ethnic as is the movie with tribal women chanting in local dialect melodiously while reaping the harvest or the simple tabla playing in frenzy in the chase sequences culminating in a frantic mood.
The director is brilliant, to say the least, every sequence is meticulously planned and the brilliant scene in the colonial compound where the triumvirate of the English, the old Muslim guardsman and Mithun talk about the remains of a human skull dig out from the grounds reflecting on the vanity of human existence is uniquely executed in English, Urdu and Hindi languages, symbolising the rich culture of the paradox that India is, and yet Mrinal Sen doesn’t betray his characters or the audience into sentimentality or unnecessary violent gore, a tribute to his aesthetic sense and to his cinematic genius.
The movie was made at a time when glamour was the order of the day in Hindi cinema, yet this artful but effortless simplicity was a slap in the face for the makers who were exploiting and still are the simple audience by cheap gimmicks and melodrama.
If you take your cinema seriously and haven’t seen this movie you aren’t seen anything yet.