Ritwik Ghatak: Random Recall of Some Anecdotes

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Madhabi Patra is an engineer, based out of Kolkata, working in a private firm at Mumbai. She is extremely and creatively enthusiastic about her hobbies of watching movies, listening music and traveling. The present piece is a compilation of her thread of posts on social media that gained wide attention. She sincerely feels that the present generation cinephiles and filmmakers should know more about Ritwik Ghatak and his cinema. A tribute to the maestro on his 98th birth anniversary on 4th Nov, 2023.

Once he slapped Vinod Kumar Chopra when he couldn’t answer who Hamlet was! He used to call him “Bidhu” and suggested you put your name Vidhu Vinod Chopra… and that’s how we got Vidhu Vinod Chopra. He was teacher of Mani Kaul, Adoor Gopalakrishnan, John Abraham(the great Malyalam filmmaker), Saeed Akhtar Mirza, Kumar Shahani, Subhash Ghai. He is Ritwik Ghatak, our Cloud-Capped Star. (at FTII)

He never accepted partition & as they say “nobody chronicled partition like Ritwik Ghatak”. He made only eight full length feature films but is still one of the greatest directors of all time. Concept of almost all his movies were used by others and declared as great movies. Lets talk about his 8.

Ritwik Ghatak explaining a scene to his actor while shooting

His Nagarik (1952),was perhaps the earliest Bengali art film. Plot of this movie is, a young man looking for a job for survival of his family in post- partition, Kolkata. He made it before Pather Panchali but it was released only after his death. Yes! His luck was never with him.

His second movie was Ajantrik (1958).This film adapted from a Bengali short story of the same name by Subodh Ghosh. It was one of the early Indian films to portray inanimate object as a character. He did it many years before Herbie films!

His ‘Bari Theke Paliye’ was adventure film based on a novel by Shibram Chakraborty. Film is all about a misbehaving boy who runs away from his village and goes to a city. Plot is similar to Francois’s ‘The 400 Blows’ (1959). But Ghatak’s film remained obscure!

‘Titas Ekti Nadir Name’ (1973) based on a Novel by Adwaita Mallabarman. This is one of the early film featuring multiple characters & interconnected stories. This is one of the earliest hyperlink cinema, also listed in 10 best Bangaladeshi cinemas. But we talk only about “Nashville”!

Partition trilogy: Meghe Dhaka Tara, Komal Gandhar & Subarnarekha. Meghe Dhaka Tara was commercially successful. He got National award for Subarnarekha & all 3 listed in all time great movies list. My favourite is Subarnarekha. Now who can forget”দাদা আমি কিন্তু বাঁচতে চেয়েছিলাম”! (“Brother, I wanted to live”!)

Ghatak’s Partition Trilogy: Komal Gandhar(1961),Meghe Dhaka Tara(1960), Subarn Rekha(1965)

His last film Jukti Torko Golpo considered to be Ghatak’s auto biographical film. It set against the back drop of the first Naxalite wave of rebellion in India. The film won National film award for best story in 1974 & We got ” ভাবো ভাবো ভাবা Practice করো” ! (Think, think. Practice thinking)

He wrote script for Madhumati & Musafir. Madhumati brought the concept of reincarnation in films. It was a source of inspiration for films like Karz,The Reincarnation of Peter proud ,Yuga Purusha , Om Shanti Om. But then he left Bollywood as he wanted to do his kind of movies.

 Unfortunately we are yet to restore good print of many of his movies, still do watch. Also watch Kamaleshwar Mukherjee’s finest work Meghe Dhaka Tara, inspired from the life & work of Ghatak. 4th Nov is his birth anniversary. Lets discuss Ghatak. He deserves our Love, our Attention.

 Once Mira Nair said Ghatak & Ray are the reason she became a Film maker. See ! I am not a writer or scholar. I love movies & very emotional about him. So just sharing this information so that we can discuss more about him.

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