by Aneek Chaudhuri
I am a refugee by birth, that’s what my ancestors brought to me on my conscience; however, the agony of being one was only restricted to them. On division of Bengal, the terms Ghoti and Bangal came into existence, and I am a Bangal possessing roots in East Bengal, better known as Bangladesh. So was Ritwik Ghatak. On his birthday, the 90th one, there are lots to pen down; he has surpassed the phase of justification and clarification, and the cinematic background has actually started giving him the desired respect for his films, but where does he stand among India’s best directors? That’s not really the concern while celebrating the birth of the creator, however, we will cross check the truancy in Indian landscape.
Want to read a complete analysis of Ghatak’s film? Click here: Ritwik Ghatak: Analyzing him
There was a time when I disregarded his films for being too cliche, may be I was not too matured to differentiate between originality and depiction of human elements in the most original way. That followed the sequence of those days, when I was much more influenced by Ray’s and Sen’s Cinema. A lazy evening, as leisurely as I could wait for the leaves to fall beneath and I thought of analyzing or to be precise, revise my thinking toward Bengali Cinema. With quite mercurious steps, yet I peeped out of my hut (quite sophisticated though) and went down to a place where I could at least find few of the legendary pieces of Bengali Cinema in Delhi. On reaching closer to home, I realized that the wallet had lost weight, however, much to my benefit. The CDs read ‘Jukti, Takko ar Gappo’ and ‘Meghe Dhaka Tara’, both directed by Ritwik Ghatak. That was the afternoon that brought in the initiation to alter my mindset. Hence, now am at a stage, influenced enough to pay a homage to the maestro, Ritwik Ghatak.
Meghe Dhaka Tara
I have viewed films, but hadn’t ever watched the manifestation of women, melodrama, and agony in such an integrated form. That’s Meghe Dhaka Tara. Firstly, the film is based on the Mother archetype concept where Nita (the lead character) possesses the motherly virtues yet there is the element of distant hated paradise associated with the term ‘mother’. She nurtures the whole family, his brothers, sister, parents, but when the turn comes to get nurtured, things seem to be far distant from Nita. I perceived it to be a film that depicted Nita’s agony and struggle throughout the her life, however, there was more to it. Now comparing his films to that of Ray or Mrinal Sen, I must put it like this that both of them try to put emphasis on the context to glorify the text, whereas in Ghatak’s case, he puts emphasis on the content of the film to bring out the actual content before the audiences. Meghe Dhaka Tara was a take on the refugees, colonies, and their survival instincts. The content of the film, the depiction of Nita’s struggle was projected in order to bring out the strive for sustenance of the refugee slums those days.
Reviews on Meghe Dhaka Tara
“By watching Ghatak’s Meghe Dhaka Tara, I derived that pleasure by which the mind gets mesmerized by the sad aspect of life, and gets purified by the artistic communication’s receiving and protesting. May be that’s called the essence of tragedy by the pundits.” – Bishnu Dey
“Prometheus had to be punished as he learnt how to make fire. Memory let Neera know that being a woman, she wanted to transcend the prison of womanhood.She must be punished. To attack establishment means the counterattack from the establishment; Ritwik Ghatak and his heroine wanted to gift that example to history. This death is more living than life.” – Sanjay Mukhopadhyay
Jukti, Takko Aar Gappo
The second film that was indeed an indispensable one to analyze was Jukti, Takko aar Gappo. Here, Ghatak clones himself as Nilkontho Bagchi (or, the vice-versa) and played the central character. Since this was then the second film I had watched of Ritwik Ghatak, the film seemed quite confusing; hence, I had to shelf it down. Ritwik Ghatak was perhaps playing a double-role, one on TV and the other one been shelved off. Ah, Eureka! The director upbeating the justifying grounds himself through the character of Nilkontho. The film, rather than appealing for any kind of criticism, is trying to showcase a mindset that was provocated with misunderstandings and backlashes. Although being very personal, this film has indeed been a real example of neo-realist cinema.
- Nagarik (The Citizen) (1953) released posthumously on 20 September, 1977
- Ajantrik (Pathetic Fallacy or The Unmechanical) (1957–8)
- Bari Thekey Paliye (Running Away From Home) (1959)
- Meghey Dhaka Tara (The Cloud-Capped Star) (1960)
- Komal Gandhar (The Gandhar Sublime or E-Flat) (1961)
- Subarnarekha (The Golden Line) (1962)
- Titas Ekti Nadir Naam (A River Named Titus) (1973)
- Jukti Takko Aar Gappo (Arguments and a Story or Reason, Debate and a Tale) (1974) released posthumously on 30 September, 1977
Happy Birthday Ritwik da…