Saturday, September 26, 2009

Ritwik Ghatak - The Bengali Brecht

"Ritwik was one of the few truly original talents in the Cinema this country has produced" was how the great Satyajit Ray once described him. Though he has made only eight feature films ( and several documentaries) he is considered by many to be a master craftsman.

Born in Dhaka, Bangladesh , on 14th Nov ( Like Nehru) in 1925 his family moved to Calcutta to escape the horrors of the Famine of 1943-44 and the tragedy of partition that followed. But these must have become imprinted on such an impressionable mind that most of his films had these and the plight of the refugee as the theme.

He first wrote Plays and then associated with the IPTA - The Indian People's Theatre Association where he wrote, acted and directed several plays as well as translated works of Bertolt Brect and Gogol.

In 1950 , he made his debut in the Film Industry as an actor and assistant director with Nemai Ghosh's " Chinnamul". Ghataks first completed film was in 1952 - Nagarik. He combined a Theatrical style with Documentary Realism - to bring out his active political stance and served as a visual expression of his radical political thoughts.His best known films were "Meghe Dhaka Tara - 1960 , Komal Ghandhar - 1961 and Subarnalekha - 1962 , a Trilogy on the plight of the refugee in Kolkatta. In the mid 60s he moved to Pune to teach at the Film Institute , for just a year.

He was truly one of the boldest film makers who did not succumb to the pressures of commercialisation and continued to make movies that spoke his political, social and personal views on society and the establishment.Though his film preceeded Ray's by a good three years as one of Bengal's best in terms of realism - Ghatak never attained the level of International Popularity that Ray obtained for his films. Ray constantly promoted the films of Ghatak but still no avail.
Ghatak's most famous foray into commercial cinema that most non bengalis will recall was "Madhumati" - the classic film on re-incarnation for which he wrote the Screenplay.

Ghatak died in february 1976 - as a result of complications from his extreme alcoholism. His life too was as stark and bleak as his film's subjects - indeed an element of being autobiographical in his films is also there......A True master - but like most who are endowed with Genius - he had enough of the self destructive gene in him.........Maybe that is why he titled his Book on himself and his films as - Rows and Rows of fences....



Hello Sir, My name is Deepayan Ghosh Grand son of Late Nimai Ghosh who made "Chinnamul" in 1950's Sir I am searching for the film cause many emotions are connected with it as his last memory. We stay in Ranchi (Jharkhand) Give us a clue where we can find it. My number is :- 9939581056 - 9709000261. If required I'll come Kolkatta to get it.
Pl. help us!!!

Unknown said...

Dear Deepyan,
I am not very familiar with where we can get Bengali films. However, I will make my enquiries.Your late grandfather also made a few Tamil films - most notably a film called "paadhai theriyudhu paar" 1960
and Sooravali - 1981
- again I am not sure if a dvd of these has been made... Moser baer do not have it in the list on line.
will check and revert. I will keep you in mind as and when I come across any material on him.
My email id is
please do stay in touch

Ebrahim Kabir said...

We admire Ritwik Ghatak more than anyone in India. And he was one of the greatest auteurs ever alive. Thanks for posting this on him. This year Feb we had a whole issue dedicated to him.

Tito Dutta said...

Have you got a copy of the movie Chhinamul? Nimai Gish was a famous director, and according to Ritwik Ghatak Chhina Mul is the first realistic movie directed (crated) in West Bengal. (BTW, Ghatak was also involved in the making of Chhina Mul, as far as I can remember)
You can contact cultural department of West Bengal Government. They'll be happy to help you?
Have you come to Kolkata? You can start your journey by visiting Information Center of Kolkata and Ritwik Memorial Trust. Not only a copy of movie, you may get many some thing than that.
Tito Dutta

Tito Dutta said...

Once again Deepayan,
In Wikipedia English we are going to start an article on Nemai Ghosh. We have already started an article on Chinnamul. You can get some good information there, or you can also participate as an editor.
You can contact me in Wikipedia directly:
Tito Dutta

Tito Dutta said...

Hello once more.... :)
I can see there are multiple typos in my earlier post. Sorry, it seems, I did not concentrate well.
In Wikipedia, you'll get our newly started article on Chinnamul (1950) movie here:
Most probably we'll start article on Nimai Ghosh too ASAP!
Tito Dutta

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This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-Noncommercial-No Derivative Works 2.5 India License.Creative Commons License
This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-Noncommercial-No Derivative Works 2.5 India License.