Acclaimed Indian actor Adil Hussain (“Star Trek: Discovery,” “Life of Pi”) will headline “Blue: The Colour of Guilt,” one of the projects being introduced at the Film Bazaar virtual co-production market. It is to be directed by first-time feature director Nilakshi Sengupta.
The India-U.K. co-production is set in Newcastle upon Tyne in England. It is a modern-day story set against the backdrop of the 1859 Indigo Rebellion in Bengal, east India, where indigo farmers crippled by debt began an uprising against indigo planters. The revolt was suppressed by the British colonial rulers and many of the farmers lost their lives.
The historical event has been depicted on stage and screen a handful of times to date. Dinabandhu Mitra’s play about the uprising, “Nil Darpan,” was written in 1859. Meanwhile, an episode of Shyam Benegal’s epic historical television series “Bharat Ek Khoj,” produced for Indian state broadcaster Doordarshan in 1989, also dealt with the movement. However, it largely remains an unexplored chapter in films about India’s colonial history.
“‘Blue’ is a story that hasn’t been told yet,” said Hussain. “It’s one of the darkest hours of Indian history and it’s a story that needs to be told. And the way Nilakshi has written the screenplay I think it’s one of the most interesting ways to tell the story. I trust Nilakshi completely on this. The film has a big chance of going places across the globe. With the ideas and casting she has in mind, I am sure we will be making a very, very good film, if not a great one.”
Sengupta said: “The story of Indigo Rebellion is at the backdrop — an event that many Indians have forgotten and many international historians are unaware of. The story deals with the collective ancestral guilt and the relationships of individuals today. Those whose past belongs to the oppressive British and those of the oppressed Indian. This is their story of modern-day interactions.”
Hussain plays the film’s protagonist, Dr. Kabir Malik.
“When I thought of the character of Dr. Kabir Malik, there was no one else who would come to my mind other than Adil,” Sengupta added. “His subtlety of acting and vast knowledge of literature will lend the perfect sensitivity that this character needs. I am grateful he liked the subject and agreed. Looking forward to a great exchange of creativity ahead.”
Sengupta will also produce via her Nilakshi Sengupta Communications and NSG Films. The filmmaker has 20 years of experience in the advertising industry. She previously directed the 2019 short “Meeting in the Mountains.”
Hussain is one of the leads in Padmakumar Narasimhamurthy’s upcoming “Max, Min and Meowzaki” and Nathalia Syam’s “Footprints on Water,” both of which are in post-production.
The Film Bazaar, operated by India’s National Film Development Corporation, takes place Nov. 20-25.