The Bhawal King: back from the dead

ek je chilo raja bhawal king

The just-released trailer for the upcoming Indian film of Srijit Mukherjee, Ek Je Chilo Raja, is worth all the hype. Here’s why. The movie is a biopic of the infamous Bhawal King, who in the 1920s, presumably came back from the dead as a monk, to reclaim his kingdom from the British. The movie also doubles as a brilliant courtroom drama about one of the longest running court trials in Indian history.

Ramendra Narayan Roy was the second prince of the Bhawal zamindars in Bengal, a part of which is modern day Bangladesh. He was popular among his subjects and spent a lavish lifestyle hunting, in festivities and in the company of women. In 1909, he contracted syphilis and went to Darjeeling for further treatment. He presumably died there and was cremated. His young wife Bibhabati Deb later moved to Dhaka to live with her brother. The remaining Bhawal princes died later on and the British took over the Bhawal estate. Tragic, but the story is only about to begin.

bhawal raja case
Raja Ramendra Narayan

One fine day in 1920, a Sanyasi covered in ashes arrives at the Buckland Bund in Dhaka, near the Ruplal House. He sits on the street, meditating for four months and attracts public attention. Under public pressure, the Sanyasi reveals that he is Ramendra Narayan Roy, the second prince of Bhawal. To prove his identity, he even discloses private information of the prince which only the prince himself or those close to him knew. Many of the relatives, though doubtful at first, later recognizes him and accepts him.

On 29 May 1921, the claimant arrives at the Bhawal estate with two lawyers to meet the district magistrate and collector J. H. Lindsay, who recorded his claim.

ek je chilo raja jawa ahsan
Popular Bangladeshi actress Jaya Ahsan plays a significant role in “Ek Je Chilo Raja”.

Amid much public row, the British government eventually filed a case terming the claimant as an imposter. And thus began the infamous Bhawal case, one of the longest running trials in Indian judicial history. The trial ran for 16 years without a final verdict. The claimant, who insisted that he was the returned king, died of a stroke before the trial ended. The government could never prove that he was an imposter.

Jishu Sengupta stars as the Bhawal prince in the upcoming movie. Anjan Dutta and Jaya Ahsan also appear in prominent roles. The biopic is set to be released on 12th October 2018.

We’ll bring you an official review of the film after it is released.

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