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In the reels of Ritwik Ghatak

Published : Thursday, 8 February, 2018 at 12:00 AM Count : 733
Rahnama Haque

"Film-making is not an esoteric thing to me. I consider film-making -- to start with -- a personal thing. If a person does not have a vision of his own, he cannot create."
  -Ritwik Ghatak

The people of Bangladesh are more or less familiar with the title called Titas Ekti Nadir Naam (A River Called Titas) as it is one of the most famous movies of our country. Ritwik Ghatak was the man behind this masterpiece. This fine personality of Bengali films is linked to some great movies which grabbed prestigious awards and made history. About 42 years ago, his life span ended on the 6th of February at the age of only 50.

Ritwik Kumar Ghatak was a Bengali film-maker and script writer, who is memorable for his unique style of storytelling that portrays the real factors of the contemporary society. He was born in Dhaka on 4 November, 1925, and lived in East Bengal (now Bangladesh) throughout his adolescence. He and his twin sister -- Prateeti, were the youngest among the nine children of Suresh Chandra Ghatak and Indubala Devi.

All of them had to migrate to Calcutta (now Kolkata), India, because of the Bengal Famine of 1943-44, and later, the partition of 1947. The refugee crisis at the time moved him intensely. As a result, he became actively involved with the Indian People's Theater Association (IPTA), which stood up against the social injustice and British Imperialism through their striking plays, and the Communist Party of India (CPI).

Being a part of IPTA, Ghatak wrote, directed and even acted in his own plays. 'Kalo sayar' (The Dark Lake) was the first play that was written by the prolific writer in 1948. He also participated in the remarkable play called 'Nabanna' (New Harvest) that year. In 1950, even though he was studying in the Department of English in the University of Calcutta, he did not complete his education and dropped out.

Ghatak, the multi-talented person, made his debut in the film industry with Nimai Ghosh's Chinnamul as actor and assistant director in the same year. This film put a new benchmark in that era. Later on, in 1952, the film called Nagarik was released, which was the first individually completed film by him. His works were indeed successful to make some difference in the customary stream of cinema.

Ajantrik (1958) was the first commercially successful film of Ghatak. As a scriptwriter, Madhumati (1958) seized the commercial success in Ghatak's life. It was a Hindi film, directed by another Bengali filmmaker Bimal Roy. Ghatak obtained his first award nomination in the category of Filmfare's Best Story Award for this film.

The outstanding film personality gifted eight full-length feature films, some short stories and also some documentaries in his short life span. He wrote more than 50 articles, short stories and essays on films. Ghatak was a theorist too. As a theorist, his views have contributed in to the scholarly articles and researches.

Poor health condition subdued him from work. Also, he had to take a break for about an epoch. After the break, Titas Ekti Nadir Naam was the comeback film for him. The autobiographical movie called Jukti Takko Aar Gappo (Reason, Debate and Tale) was the conclusive film of his career. He could not even live to see it get released and breathed his last on 6 February, 1976.
Ghatak's vision was not to earn money by making films, but to make a difference in the style of cinema so that it can enhance itself as a tool of mass media. Along with appreciation, he has also earned a lot of criticism for his different style of filmmaking. However, above everything, no criticism can deny his exceptional contribution in Bengali film industry.

The writer is studying at Department of English and Humanities, University of Liberal Arts Bangladesh

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