The Cloud Capped Star

The Cloud Capped Star
The Cloud Capped Star

Most likely no different auteur within the historical past of cinema has garnered such an amazing affect by churning out solely eight films and one script in his total profession span, which Ritwik Ghatak did. Having led a life which had witnessed the wrath of partition, in a state of penury supplemented by the behavior of binge consuming; Ghatak stays a controversial, but a pivotal determine within the historical past of the New-Wave of Indian cinema. Talking in regards to the ‘New-Wave’ or ‘Alternate cinema’, one can’t afford to provide a miss to the well-known trio of Satyajit-Ritwik-Mrinal, who pioneered the motion. Ray, with out even a shade of doubt has been essentially the most prolific and colossal determine and acquired immense accolades each in India and all through the World. Mrinal Sen’s creative description of social actuality and fixed experimentation with parallel cinema made him an award winner in virtually all the foremost movie festivals; Cannes, Berlin, Venice, Moscow, Karlovy Fluctuate, Montreal, Chicago and Cairo. Retrospectives of his movies have been proven in virtually all the foremost cities of the World. Ray, who has directed 36 movies, together with function movies, documentaries and shorts earned quite a few awards, which comprised of 32 Nationwide Movie Awards, plenty of awards at Worldwide Movie festivals and different ceremonies, a Lifetime Achievement Academy Award in 1992. The Authorities of India honored him with the Bharat Ratna in 1992, which is the very best civilian award granted by the Republic of India in any discipline of human endeavor.

I typically questioned what made individuals to position Ghatak in the identical row of those stalwarts. A person, who didn’t obtain an Oscar, whose movies with the lone exception of Meghe Dhaka Tara, failed miserably on the box-office, who was by no means a Jury in a prestigious movie pageant, is a lot talked about until date. He was a cutthroat speaker, a perceived iconoclast of nihilism, had a profound alcoholic habit, a conformist to communist ideologies. Did these attributes added feathers to his colourful public picture, a lot in order that he grew to become a subject of dialogue, a problem of debate particularly among the many Bengali intelligentsia. Why has he all the time been a topic of comparability together with his much-revered contemporaries, specifically with Ray?

I’ve as soon as learn in a novel (cannot keep in mind its title), life is a marathon race the place every one in all us is working with a flamed torch. It isn’t doable for us to achieve the end line. What we will do on the utmost is to make sure that the BURNING TORCH will get handed on to somebody with recent vigor and unexhausted vitality earlier than we cease completely. The true success doesn’t lie within the wealth we accumulate, the laurels we procure. It’s {our capability} to encourage generations in future that actually counts.


Treading by this line of thought, allow us to take a glimpse of among the accomplishments of the Maestro that may function BEACON LIGHTS for the ages to return and have already served many.

1. His first film Nagarik (The Citizen) was accomplished in 1952 was launched 24 years later, even after the demise of Ghatak. Nagarik was the primary occasion of an artwork movie in Bengali Cinema. Famend critics like Derek Malcolm, Safder Hasmi, Someswar Bhowmick and lots of others regarded it because the maiden try to discover the inner-essence of sensible conditions in Indian cinema. Satyajit Ray himself opined that had Nagarik been launched earlier than Panther Panchali (Track of the Street), it could have been the initiation level or emergence of Indian Alternate Cinema.

2. Ajantrik (The Unmechanical), a comedy-drama movie with science fiction themes, was one of many earliest Indian movies to painting a relationship between a cab-driver Bimal and an inanimate object, his previous modeled automotive, Jagaddal. The film was thought-about for a particular entry within the Venice Movie Pageant in 1959. Based mostly on a brief story by Subodh Ghosh, the film offers with the themes of synthetic civilization and fallacy of the modifications rendering the society mechanized thereby yielding to inner inconsistencies inside its multifarious strata. Georges Sadoul, the famous movie critic remarked, “What does ‘Ajantrik’ imply? I do not know and I imagine nobody within the Venice Movie Pageant knew. I am unable to inform the entire story of the movie… There was no subtitle for the movie. However I noticed the movie spellbound until the very finish”. The protagonist Bimal (performed by Kali Banerjee) was clearly an affect for the cynical cab driver Narasingh (performed by Soumitra Chatterjee) in Satyajit Ray’s Abhijan (1962), which in flip aided to create the character of Travis Bickle (performed by Robert De Niro) in Martin Scorsese’s epic film Taxi Driver (1976).

3. Legendary French Director Francois Truffaut’s most profitable movie in his residence nation, The 400 Blows, depicting the story of a runaway child was clearly impressed from Ghatak’s masterpiece Bari Theke Paliye (The Runaway). The movie, based mostly on a brief story by Shibram Chakroborty,depicted literary instruments of metaphor, summary symbolism with nice elan. Ritwik dealt with points of a kid’s visualization of Utopia and his final realization, which resulted in a compromise to perfection. The movie served as a reference level, which culminated, to the NEW-WAVE in cinematic historical past, The French-Wave.

4. Subornorekha (The Golden Thread), my favourite of all of the gems he created, vividly described the stark actuality of the aftermath of the Partition of Bengal. Ray’s distinctive function was his eye for element, Mrinal’s was the flexibility to stir a sensible scenario to such an extent that the viewers grew to become an integral faction of plot growth; Ghatak’s specialty was BOLDNESS. Many Administrators have displayed the aftermath of a political mishap when it comes to sufferings inflicted, tortures tolerated and fragmentation of the society- Polanski in Pianist, Spielberg in Schindler’s record have all portrayed such cases. Ritwik plied a definite route. He canvassed the situation with poignant footage of human distress- not simply the pangs of separation that precipitated a lot hardship but in addition the long run results on thoughts. Erin O Donnell rightly factors out; the vast majority of Ghatak’s movies are narratives that concentrate on post-independence Bengali household and neighborhood, with a sustained critique of the rising petit bourgeois in Bengal, particularly within the urban-environment of Kolkata. The story revolves across the tragic destiny of a household separated and shattered owing to a flip of occasions following the occasion of partition. The Asian Movie Journal CINEMAYA ranked the film starring Abhi Bhattacharya, Bijon Bhattacharya, Satindra Bhattacharya and Madhabi Mukherjee in key roles because the eleventh best film of all time.

5. Meghe Dhaka Tara (The Cloud Capped Star), which many regard to be his Magnum Opus and his solitary profitable business enterprise is a landmark within the historical past of Indian movies. The story revolves across the wrestle of a younger lady named Neeta, who sweats her blood to offer for the essential facilities of her household. Her brother doesn’t settle for any form of a duty to run the household and chases his aspirations to turn out to be a singer. Neeta carries the whole burden on her shoulders. Her household thrived on her earnings. Nonetheless, what she received in flip was exploitation; all people took benefit of her goodness. She was the embodiment of self-sacrifice who suffers immense private losses. First she loses her fiancé, then her job and at last succumbs to power tuberculosis. Her brother is the one one that cares for her on the finish. She expresses her deep-rooted agony, her screams “DADA AMI BACHTE CHAI”(Brother, I wish to dwell) leads to useless and offers the large sense of loss to the viewer. Meghe Dhaka Tara is strongly melodramatic in tone, particularly in respect of pains heaped on the protagonist. There’s additionally an ample use of surrealistic sound results.

Concerning this Ritwik mentioned, “Melodrama is a a lot criticized narrative kind. However from that alone, the actually nationwide movie will emerge. I’m not afraid of melodrama. Utilizing it as a tool is the birthright of an artiste”.

In 2002, the film was ranked #231 on the Sight and Sound Critic and Director’s ballot for all-time best movies. In a affirmation of the recognition of Meghe Dhaka Tara, a latest survey by a number one Indian information group reported that the concluding line of the movie “DADA AMI BACHTE CHAI” was essentially the most well-known line of any movie.

6. TITAS EKTI NADIR NAAM (A River named Titash) Ghatak’s solely Bangladeshi film, based mostly on a novel of the identical title, by Advaita Malla Burman, was one of many earliest movies together with Ray’s Kanchenjunga and Mrinal Sen’s Calcutta 71 to resemble hyperlink cinema, that includes a number of characters in a set of interconnected tales. This was attained earlier than Robert Altman may conceptualize Nashville (1975) in Hollywood. The film TOPPED the record of ten greatest Bangladeshi movies, as chosen within the viewers and critics ballot performed by the British Movie Institute.

7. Madhumati (1958) Produced and Directed by Bimal Roy, Madhumati was scripted by Ritwik Ghatak with dialogues by Rajinder Singh Bedi. The movie, which included an ensemble, star-cast of Dilip Kumar, Vyjayanthimala, Pran, Johhny Walker with soulful music by Salil Chowdhury. Madhumati was the record-holder for essentially the most awards acquired by a movie on the Filmfare Awards (9) for 37 years till the discharge of Dilwale Dulhania Le Jayenge, which gained ten awards. Ghatak gained his solely Filmfare Award for the Finest Story. What makes it actually particular is the truth that it was one of many earliest movies to cope with reincarnation and had a gothic-noir ingredient to it. The film has been a supply of inspiration for the American Movie “The Reincarnation of Peter Proud” and Hindi film “Karz”. Many movies Indian in addition to international have captured comparable themes of their plots; Probabilities Are, Sooryavanshi, Karan-Arjun, Om-Shanti-Om and so forth.

8. Jukti, Takko ar Gappo (Purpose, Debate and a Story)- The Swan music of the maverick was his solely film to bag a Nationwide Award for Finest Story. It is without doubt one of the rarer movies to obtain astounding essential success the place the lead actor, scriptwriter and the director are one and the identical particular person. The movie is taken into account to be technically superior to different movies of that period resulting from its digital camera work and is positioned within the league of Jean Cocteau’s Testomony of Orpheus and the Nicholas Ray and Wim Wender’s famous documentary movie, lightning over water. Within the film Ghatak portrays his alter ego, Nilkantha Bagchi, a disillusioned mental who has drowned himself within the ills of alcoholism. The movie offers with a number of themes. Nilkantha, having been abandoned by his spouse and little one owing to his extreme consuming habits, wanders via the countryside and meets uncommon of us alongside the best way. He meets a younger lady who’s pushed away from Bangladesh and seeks shelter in Kolkata, a schoolteacher who’s within the lookout for a brand new job as his faculty is closed on account of political unrest, a bunch of naxalites whom he describes as misguided. The movie doesn’t preach or protest any political ideology specifically however paints the pitiful state of affairs on account of fading ethical values, decant attitudes and exploitation all-around. In an interview, Ghatak talked about “The Nice Mom Picture” exists in its duality in each facet of our existence. That is what he has tried to indicate via Neeta and Bangobala. Therefore, Keno cheye acho go Ma mukhopane, period chahena tomare chahena re,apono ma ere nahi jane ( Why are their face Mom? They do not need you, they do not even know you.)

Ghatak lived with a pointy mind bent on breaking institutions, an inquiring thoughts and a really stressed honesty. He all the time argued in opposition to the well-established premises. Ray and Mrinal brazenly conveyed their love for the cinematic medium. Ritwik gave a rattling to it. In an interview he declared ” After quitting the tax division job, I attempted writing poetry however discovered myself singularly incapable of it. I shifted my curiosity to writing brief tales and gained a little bit of fame. Greater than 100 of them have been revealed in “Desh”, “Parichay”, “Shonibarer chithi” and different main magazines of Bengal.That was when I discovered that literature delves deep within the soul of man, nevertheless it works slowly. It takes a very long time to develop roots inside. With typical adolescent impatience, I wished to make a direct affect, as a result of I felt individuals needs to be roused instantly”.

Sure… PEOPLE- that was the phrase. He wished to achieve out to his viewers. He additional added by saying, “I simply wish to convey no matter I really feel in regards to the actuality round me and I wish to shout. Cinema nonetheless appears to be the perfect medium for this as a result of it may attain umpteen billions as soon as the work is completed. That’s the reason I produced films- not for their very own sake however for the sake of my individuals. They are saying that Tv could quickly take its place. It could attain out to tens of millions extra. Then I’ll kick the cinema over and switch to T.V”.

He by no means believed within the manufacturing of tales depicting the clinically disinfected state of poverty, a story the place poetic justice is restored with a dramatic flip of occasions, a narrative the place all the things is unscathed and the background music rings “TA RA RA TAA TAA, TA RA RA TAA TAA, TA RA RA, TA TARARA”. Barring Komolgandhar, all of his movies have a doleful ending.

The enigma nonetheless stays why did an inborn genius like him utterly destroyed himself? Why the actual life Nilkantha did drank poison and embraced a destroy? Most likely there are two doable explanations to this, which I’ve tried to clarify to one of the best of my data.


He may by no means settle for the partition of India in 1947 that divided Bengal in two nations. The drudgery of individuals owing to the phenomenon of partition has been a recurrent theme in virtually all his films. To deprive somebody of his land, to grab away his nationality is to disclaim his very existence. It’s the best crime of all. He may by no means dwell with the truth that such a heinous deed was carried out within the title of faith, ordained with the idea of Independence. It’s like slicing the pinnacle off so as to treatment a headache. He as soon as remarked,

“Being a Bengali from East Bengal, I’ve seen untold miseries inflicted on my individuals within the title of independence- which is pretend and sham. I’ve reacted violently in direction of this and have tried to painting totally different elements of this”. Whereas the movies “Refugee”(1959) directed by Shantipriya Mukherjee or Rajen Tarafdar’s “Palanka”(1976) have now pale into oblivion, Ritwik Ghatak is the one director whose movies and worldview have turn out to be synonymous with partition. Whereas depicting this merciless saga, Ghatak was not glad with a kind that exalts the historic circulate; however sought to show historical past itself into an object of investigation. It’s Nilkantha’s dictum “Chinta korte sekho” (be taught to suppose), what he tried to make the viewers do. Was partition a ploy for the good thing about the nation or a platter for the ability mongers? It is a matter, which he made us to suppose again and again.


His individuals meant all the things for him. He acknowledged his by quoting, “I don’t imagine within the label leisure, nor do I settle for sloganeering. I want to deeply meditate on this universe, this World, Worldwide scenario, my nation and my very own individuals. I want to make movies for them. I may need failed in right this moment. However time and folks alone need to resolve”. His livelihood in a state of abject poverty induced him to do a TVC for the Imperial Tobacco Firm. The cash helped him to finish his movie “Subornorekha” after its producer left. Ghatak shot a movie based mostly on a novel by Shankar – Koto Ajanare. A day’s shoot was left when the movie received shelved. Many opine that Koto Ajanare may have made historical past in Indian Cinema, because the novel was a broadly celebrated one. Regardless of all this, he continued making movies. The individuals have been his sole motivation. His movies had a singular Indian really feel to it. Not like Mrinal Sen’s dig at Victorian nitty-gritties, Ray’s fascination in direction of Italian Neo-realism, Ghatak adopted the Indian method, which was one thing his very personal – Astute, Exhausting and stuffed with melodrama. Though Ghatak credited Eisenstien and Bertolt Brecht for his dramatic show of scenes, but they appeared to have been deep engrafted within the Indian psyche. It’s when most of his works ran to empty theatres in Bengal, he sank deep into despair. He didn’t do movies for cash, for awards. Had he pursued such a path, he wouldn’t have left Mumbai after the exceptional success of Madhumati. He left as a result of he couldn’t adapt himself to the market ruled Mumbai movie business. He was missing inventive freedom there. He couldn’t attain out his personal individuals in his very personal method. The viewers was his God and the follower’s prayers remained unanswered for the foremost half. It was this set again which gave place to dejection. His apparently scornful comment “My movies didn’t flop. The viewers flopped” is an final result of the widespread rejection he acquired. It’s fairly astonishing to know that the filmmaker was a tea-totaller earlier than turning 35. As soon as, he issued a discover in opposition to alcohol consumption for studio technicians throughout work hours. It’s this man who surrendered himself to this vice out of distress, frustration and regret out of a life that he thought-about WASTED.

The excellent story of an unrewarded genius.

Throughout his educating stint on the FTII, Pune he has been a mentor to personalities like Mani Kaul, John Abraham, Kumar Sahani, Saeed Akhtar Mirza and the legendary Adoor Gopalakrishnan. He additionally made two brief movies with the scholars in Pune – Rendezvous and Concern.

John Abraham, often called one of many first eminences of the Alternate Malayalam Cinema, was one who adopted Ghatak to the hilt, from his nihilism to his drunken methods. That is what he wrote of his Guru:

Ritwik Ghatak





For him life was holier,

Than his holy worship.

Loss of life of Ritwik Ghatak,

Is a occurring very uncommon.

I rise in delight to reminisce on my Ghatak da.

He’ll dwell eternally.

In my ideas,

In my senses and in my soul.