An accolade or a tribute to the great film maker and one of the pioneers of Indian parallel cinema, Mr. Ritwik Ghatak seems like a forced act to me right now. I do not know, for how many nights he stayed awake and for how many days he starved out of frustration, although I know how his works gives me a vision. I know how terrible my future will be if I do not take lessons from him. Very irrelevant at this point! However, I urge for a patient read…
Born to a family with poets and play-writers around him, Ghatak grew up watching the sufferings of common men as they migrated to the newer Bengal. His cinemas based on the city outskirts like “Meghe Dhaka Tara” or “Subararekha” spoke a lot about the refugees and the ill-treatment they received from their own realm mates after our country got the so-called independence. The decision of Ghatak, being a part of the film making fraternity was quite indispensable as far as his growing up and his education was concerned.
From “Nagarik” (1952) to his last film “Jukti Tokko Goppo” (1974), Ghatak was more of a social commentator who believed in the aesthetic feature of film making. In one of his quotes he said, “Film making is not a form of art, it has forms.” He was more inspired by the sufferings of innocent souls and he wanted to portray life with his films. He celebrated grief like no one in this world. His works as a script writer, director, producer, actor, singer and film author would always metaphorically describe some of the major concerns of our plagued society. Sadly, we still live with some of those social evils and pathetically we inculcated each and every habit to live with them proving our logical abilities. This article is going wayward, I know. However, the kinds of message conveyed by Ghatak during his life time were hardly reciprocated. So, let us fasten our thoughts to cinema and pay him a tribute for his outstanding contribution to Indian cinema.
Satyajit Ray once said, “For him, Hollywood might not have existed at all” I would still wonder, what exactly the thought was that made him say so. Often while watching a Ghatak movie, I would relate some of my emotions and self-speak, “time basically is so CONSTANT…” The untimely demise of the great man deprived us from better analytics on film making and true characterization. His films hardly had typical Heroes or lead roles. One of his pupils commented, “The heroes and heroines of Ritwik’s films, while their energies are sapped by a society which can sustain no growth, have inner resources that seem to assert themselves. […] He was extremely disenchanted with those of his colleagues who wanted to maintain a false unity and was not, implicitly, pained enough by the splintering of every form of social and cultural values and movement. It is these factors that make Ritwik’s films a vitally generative force for the young. He does not hide behind a medieval or a dead past or a decorative Indianess…Very few of his contemporaries have avoided these pitfalls whether they work in the cinema and the other arts, or in the theoretical and cultural sphere. It is as if they were ashamed of being themselves, today, with their true history.”
I have always believed that any form of art has two paths for a potential learner or a practitioner, either you follow history or you define your own path. Ghatak was the pioneer of establishing the thought that film making was his signature language. He interpreted a screenplay with “never seen before” treatments and wished to introduce some new-fangled means to capture motion picture. His efforts in introducing a different and distorted musical forms as background scores, and his experimental form of cinema does hardly reflect in any commercial film maker’s work in times after Ghatak. The parallel or alternate cinema movement in India experienced the trio-preamble of Satyajit Ray, Mrinal Sen and Ritwik Ghatak as they lead from the front. As described earlier in my blog, Indian film is growing towards debris of senseless Indian cinema apart from a few silver linings behind the black clouds of commercialization, 100 crore clubs and box office illusions!
The Indian film Industry was always synonymous to the films produced in Bombay (now Mumbai) and the regional industries were fatigued with similar theater portrayals and poor commercial cinemas with melodramatic stories and baseless song sequences. The trio Ghatak, Sen and Ray gave Indians something more to chew upon. The films made by these film makers are still acclaimed as text materials for film students and even their millionth view have some special delicacies for your mind. However, their efforts and plea to our countrymen are distant echoes. Ghatak died before puking blood for many months! I believe, it was not alcohol and its consequences but the disillusion brought into his life due to the unfathomable pain of being this ill-treated visionary of this country.
Bengal was and is always ahead of the country whenever a discussion on films and other forms of art commence and audiences in Bengal get respect as authors and speakers deliver something that meaningful which hardly gets a resonance in any other part of the country. This is where we are and we are here because Ghatak and his contemporary film makers gave us that recognition! Although an afterthought, a tribute to Ray and a tribute to Mrinal Sen were nothing but an image of what I want to convey here in this homage article to one of the most incredible film makers of this country. My article could hardly reflect his enormous contribution towards Indian cinema, so, for something more meaningful that actually depicts his work I would like you all to go through this.
Signing of from the desk of mymotionpicture till i find some more logically disputing stories to chew upon…