Soumitra Chatterjee and Tanuja are all set to share screen space again in director Parambrata Chatterjee’s upcoming film Shonar Pahar. The pair had earlier played the lead in Ashutosh Bandyopadhyay’s Teen Bhubaner Pare and Inder Sen’s Pratham Kadam Phool. Both films released in 1969 and were cult hits. Both films, incidentally, had music composed by Sudhin Dasgupta that are hugely popular even today.
However, there’s a lesser known third film of the Soumitra-Tanuja pair, which too was a major box office hit. The film also had Amol Palekar as part of the lead cast.
Released in 1983, Chena Achena was directed by Pinaki Chaudhuri, and was quite unlike any mainstream films made back then.
The story of Chena Achena begins with Atashi (Tanuja) arriving at a village in West Bengal as a government tribal welfare officer. She is received at the station by Mr Banerjee. The Banerjees invite Atashi to dinner at their place.
That evening, at the Banerjee home, Atashi sees a man who looks strikingly similar to Sanjay (Soumitra) who was her very close friend in Kolkata several years back. But the man introduces himself as Prabal and denies any previous acquaintance with her. The film goes into a flashback where Atashi is seen studying in college. Atashi’s parents soon arrange a match for her with Sanjay’s friend Rajiv (Amol). Sanjay opposes the marriage and tries to dissuade Atashi and her family. One day, Rajiv is found murdered, and Sanjay vanishes from the scene. The police are unable to locate his whereabouts.
Back to the present day, Atashi gets a call from her uncle, a senior police officer, informing her that Prabal is a wanted criminal. The film takes off from this point.
Chena Achena was a worthy romantic thriller. The lead cast was ably supported by Chhaya Devi, Biplab Chatterjee, Nirmal Ghosh, Nandini Maliya, and others. Music for the film was composed by Abhijit Bandyopadhyay.
The suspense element in Chena Achena was carefully woven into the film’s narrative. At a time when most romantic thrillers are neither romantic, nor thrillers, Chena Achena showed 35 years ago how to balance the two and return a winning formula.