Supriya Pathak is, without a doubt, one of the most gifted actors we’ve been fortunate to see on screen, who, from Idhar Udhar to Khichdi, has never failed to win over the audience.
Hugh Grant is the star whose shy smile, intense gaze, and phenomenal range as an actor has been making us a little crazy in love ever since we first saw him on the silver screen.
And the reason I am talking about these two stars is that, once upon a time, these two brilliant actors came together for a romantic drama!
Yes, a French film la Nuit Bengali (The Bengali Night) released in 1988 starred Hugh Grant, Soumitra Chatterjee, Supriya Pathak, and Shabana Azmi.
The film tells the story of a young engineer (Hugh Grant) who arrives to work in Calcutta in the 1930s and stays with his boss’s family, where he falls in love with his boss’s daughter (Supriya Pathak). However, the affair ends in a tragedy.
Directed by Nicolas Klotz, the film was based on the 1933 Romanian novel Bengal Nights, written by Mircea Eliade.
The novel, and the film, were considered to be semi-autobiographical since Eliade’s novel was based on his own romantic encounter with writer Maitreyi Devi.
In fact, in 1974, Devi published her own account of their relationship, in the book entitled Na Hanyate (It Does Not Die), which won her the Sahitya Akademic award.
Furthermore, reportedly, Devi exacted a promise from Eliade that his novel would never be published in English in her lifetime. True to the promise, the first English translation of Eliade’s novel was published in 1993, three years after Devi’s death.
The film too, for allegedly the same reason, had a limited release in India, and its production was, in fact, contested by Devi herself who apparently considered it a breach of trust.
Upon its release, the film generated mixed reviews.
However, beyond its limited release and its controversial backstory, The Bengali Night is proof of art’s ability to cross geographical boundaries.
After all, where else would a Romanian novel about a story set in Bengal, be adapted into a French film with English and Indian actors?
The film is available for viewing on YouTube.