Screened as part of NZIFF 2001

The Wrestlers 2000


Directed by Buddhadeb Dasgupta

India In Bengali with English subtitles
99 minutes 35mm

Director, Producer

Production Co

Buddhadeb Dasgupta Productions


Buddhadeb Dasgupta. From a story by Samaresh Bose


Asim Bose


Raviranjan Maitra

Production Designer

Ashok Bose

Costume Designer

Kuntala Dasgupta


Biswadeb Dasgupta


Jaya Seal (Uttara)
Tapas Pal (Nemai)
Shankar Chakraborty (Balaram)
R. I. Asad (Padre)
Tapas Adhikari (Railway guard)
Saurav Das (Matthew)
Gautam Warshi, Masud Akhtar, Subrata Dutta (Hindu militants)


Best Director Award, Venice Film Festival 2000


In a sweeping and beautiful landscape, bathed in the golden glow of dusk, an elegantly choreographed parable unfolds. This striking film is based on a well-known Bengali story concerning two railway crossing guards who pass the time between trains by engaging in friendly wrestling matches. When one of them brings home a wife their sparring becomes increasingly tense and hostile – and more involving than ever. The sweet-natured young wife, excluded from their continuing intimacy, is ignored. Expanding the view of the original story, Dasgupta shows how much else they are ignoring in the world around them.

Few filmmakers succeed in inhabiting the screen with patently symbolic figures, but something in the presence of the actors and the way Dasgupta’s camera discovers them in the film’s panoramic vistas, imbues his theatrical conceits with conviction. The film is rich in surprising and resonant images. The settings – the crossing guards’ dwellings, the hill where they wrestle, a Christian church – are stylised in their isolation from each other. A colourful masked troupe of players weaves through the landscape like a Greek chorus, bewailing human cruelty and blindness.

These qualities are not in short supply in Dasgupta’s world and he has explained his film as a response to religious fundamentalism and intolerance – and an ode to the compassion and suffering of the ignored wife. — BG

The Wrestlers is a film of prodigious visual imagination. Veteran Bengali filmmaker Buddhadeb Dasgupta employs a unique strategy of ‘magic hour’ shooting (those brief periods after dawn and before sunset), as well as precisely matched reverse angle shots and unusually deep focus for his framing and blocking. The cumulative result is one of formal unease, a world where great natural beauty and deadly human menace coexist in equal measure – in keeping with his condemnation of the intolerance he so vividly shows — Eddie Cockrell, Philadelphia Festival of World Cinema, 2001