I just saw a review of this on Upperstall.com, and it sounds like the kind of historical, heroine-centric thing that could be fun.
Kamala, a beautiful Hindu girl (Mumtaz Sorcar), is abducted by the notorious dacoit Madhumallar (Sanjib Sarkar) on her way her husband's abode after a forced marriage. She is rescued by Habir Khan (Sudip Mukherjee), a tolerant Muslim known for his good deeds. Habir had promised his Rajputani mother (Locket Chatterjee) that he would commit himself to the welfare and protection of Hindu girls abandoned by society by offering them shelter in his Hindu Mahal. Kamala is reluctant to go with Habir Khan. But when Khan takes her back to her maternal uncle (Biplab Chatterjee)'s house, they refuse her entry because she has stayed in a Muslim home for one night. In course of time, she learns sword fighting, horse riding and other forms of combat. She falls in love and marries Habir Khan's second son Karim (Indrajeet Chakraborty) with Khan's blessings and promises to take over the good work from her father-in-law. He renames her Meherjaan and hands her his symbolic flag. Her first incident of combat is to save Sarala (Parama Sarkar), her cousin sister from the clutches of Madhumallar who had planned to abduct Sarala on her way to her in-law's home. Meherjaan rescues the young girl, gifts her a sari and assures her that she will always be there to help sisters in distress.
Musalmanir Galpo (The Story of the Musalmaan Girl) was the last story Rabindranath Tagore wrote. He wrote the draft of the story on 24th-25th June 1941 exactly one-and-half months before he passed away. So the film is based on the draft. Though Tagore does not mention the time-frame of the story, he opens the story saying that it was a time when lawlessness crippled the state administration that sustained an ambience of fear among the common people. Their only way out was through prayer to the Almighty and through harmony among themselves. The film fails to live up to the promise of placing a Tagore creation on film. It comes out like Tagore packaged in a slightly different masala wrapper filled with songs that are very good by themselves, but are two or three too many in this film. The intentions of this filmmaker were good, no doubt, but it seems he either lost interest in the film mid-way, or had second thoughts about which parts of the story he should focus on.
Mumtaz Sorcar, the youngest of the three daughters of magician PC Sorcar consolidates her position as an actress of promise in her second film. She is not beautiful in the conventional sense of the word, but she is tall, svelte and carries herself very well. She outshines the others in the action scenes where her mentor, saviour and guardian Habir Khan trains her in horse riding, sword-fighting, lathi-encounters and the rest. She is comfortable in the earlier segments when she sings and laughs in her uncle’s house, while suffering the rebuke and harassment of her aunt with silent tears quite well. But her character undergoes a transformation when she begins to train in militancy. Sadly however, the director has been quite stingy over this segment and has dragged his feet over the earlier part and the parts in the Rajputani Mahal where Habir Khan shelters the Hindu girls he has rescued from the dreaded dacoit. She is treated like a queen in this Mahal while the other girls are like her handmaids. Why? The subtly handled romance between Kamala and Karim is short and sweet, reminding one of the French romances. In a surprising twist, it is Kamala, rechristened Meherjaan, who asks for Karim’s hand from his father! A very good touch handled well. Sudip Mukherjee as Habir Khan gives a good performance in a character weakened by its superfluous iconization and too much of repetitive oratory. Indrajeet has little to do as Karim but does his part well. Anamika Saha as Kamala’s aunt is as loud as she always is and Biplab Chatterjee is his usual melodramatic self.
The film was shot extensively on location at Itachuna Rajbari, Khannan and in Salt Lake but the cinematography is strangely amateurish where the frames lose clarity the minute the camera tracks back. In close-ups and especially in group shots, the frames resemble scenes from a stage play where everyone stands in a row facing the camera. It is only in the scenes where Kamala is learning martial arts are top angle shots used. All the scenes of the dacoit gang attacking runaway brides are amateurishly handled. Too many flashbacks such as Habir Khan recounting his mother’s story are pure melodrama.
Pandit Debjyoto Bose’s music and lyrics are one of the strongest features of the film and the rendering by ace vocalists like Haimanti Shukla and Shubhomita adds more power to them. But with a song sequence bursting into the frame in every scene, especially a song that could easily have been dispensed with, music also pulls the film down. The songs are too long drawn out and do not seem to end beside the fact that they break the continuity of the narrative needlessly, slowing down the already slow pace of the film.
Overall, the acting by the main cast, the music, the lyrics and a new director’s courage to place Tagore on film are the saving graces of Musalmanir Galpo.
Upperstall review by: Shoma A Chatterji