The vibrant tribal dance style known as Chhou provides a captivating backdrop for a melodramatic tale of shame and redemption in the feature directing debut of Bollywood choreographer Remo (aka Remo D’Souza). Shot in remote Bengali locations and evocatively lensed in widescreen, “A Story of the Red Hills” offers a splendid showcase for an age-old art form that nearly became extinct. Heartfelt, independently produced pic is solid fest fare with potential for artcaster sales.
Once-revered Chhou master Manohar (Mithun Chakraborty) finds himself down and out as popular tastes in entertainment change. His fortunes improve when he rescues lame mute Felai (Rishi), son of his former love. Moving with the lad to a neighboring village, he’s welcomed by enthusiastic arts supporter Madhab (Shankar Chakravarty), who encourages him to train a new group of students. As Manohar regains his self-respect, Chhou’s bewitching rhythms challenge Felai to overcome his disability. Athletic practitioners perform in magnificently crafted masks, headdresses and costumes, ancient mythological tales of Hindu gods to life as they stamp, jump and spin to the accompaniment of drums. More performance footage would have been welcome. Pic’s title comes from its sole song.