Karimunnesa – Harun ur Rashid

A dramatic documentation of history

Once upon a time filmmakers of the country often came up with films on historical events. However, this interesting genre has become quite a rarity in recent times. That’s where Filmmaker Shakoor Majid’s second telefilm Karimunnesa, premiered on October 5 at the Russian Cultural Centre, is a bold endeavour. The film is based on the sensational murder case of the Dewan of Ita, Kotu Mia at the hands of his wife Karimunnesa, daughter of Longla’s zamindar Gajambar Ali.Set at a time about 150 years ago, the 82-minute film is a notable documentation of the mystery shrouded incident that also prompted the only death sentence of a woman since the period of the British Raj till date in the region.

Tarin and Shuvro Dev as Karimunnesa and Kotu mia

The story has Karimunnesa married to the Dewan of Ita, Kotu Mia. However, Karimunnesa soon gets fed up with the zamindari lavishness that her husband indulges in. Karimunnesa has had similar experience about her father too. This invokes the rebel in her. She takes the deathly decision of poisoning her husband.

After the murder, Karimunnesa rejects the two estates and marries her beloved Kalam, caretaker of her father’s estate. They take refuge in the forest with the help of Karimunnesa’s father. When there is no trace of the girl, a young police officer of the British police takes over the task of capturing the accused. He takes the guise of the dervish to whom one day Karimunnesa reveals the secret of her life –and regrets it. The Karimunnesa saga ends with her capture and eventual hanging at the Sylhet jail in 1870.

The sources of the incidents are largely varied, often distorting many important aspects such as even the location of the incident, says Majid. In his words, ‘In Moimanshingha Geetika, Mymensingh is shown as the place of the occurrence. The descendants of the two families are also almost traceless. Kotu Mia doesn’t have any descendant. Gajambar Ali, on the other hand, lost all his estates for keeping the facts a secret. I have written the story depending basically on my imagination, since most of the sources have failed to convince me regarding their authenticity.’

Popular actress Tarin as Karimunnesa is excellent. Singer-turned-actor Shubhro Dev is also commendable. Other performers include Khalilullah Khan, Joy, Toukir Ahmed, Bhabotosh Barman Rana, Kayes Chowdhury and others. The costumes appropriately correspond to the time of the incident.

To the credit of music director, Shujeyo Shyam, the music of the film is rich with three folk songs–Bhabia dekho mon of poet Irfan, Bondhu tor laiga re of Syed Shahnoor and Shyam kalia of Radha Raman. The songs are sung by Bidit Lal Das and Shammi Akhter.

Produced by View Finder and Mira UK Ltd., Karimunnesa is truly a pioneering effort from young director Shakoor Majid.