wiki:Ritwik Ghatak

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Ritwik Kumar Ghatak, (1925-76)

Bengali director born in Dhaka. Left East Bengal (now Bangladesh) in early youth when family migrated to Calcutta. Became politically active (1946) and joined the IPTA as playwright, director and actor (1948-54), including Bijon Bhattacharya’s production of Nabanna (1948) and his Jwala (1950) and Officer (1952). Set up Natyachakra Theatre Group, then broke away to work with Sombhu Mitra’s Bohurupee Group (1949). Entered film as assistant to Manoj Bhattacharya (Tathapi, 1950). Acted and was generally involved in the making of Chinnamul, helping to transform documentary film into committed fiction cinema, an effort extended into Nagarik (1952, released in 1977). Continued street theatre work and was voted best theatre actor and director at all-India IPTA conference, Bombay (1953). Forced out of IPTA because of ideological differences and set up Group Theatre (1954) animated by his interpretation of Stanislavski’s approach. Purged from CPI (1955). Joined Filmistan in Bombay as scenarist; scripted Bimal Roy’s Madhumati (1958) and collaborated with Hrishikesh Mukherjee on Musafir (1957). Professor of Film Direction and Vice-Principal of the FTII (1966-7). Wrote the play Sei Meye while in a mental asylum and staged it there with doctors and patients (1969). Suffered increasingly from alcoholism. Active in cine technicians’ unions throughout his career. Authored numerous short stories, at least eight plays including Bengali adaptations of Gogol and Brecht. Among his published writings on film are Chalachitra Manash Ebam Aro Kichhu (1975) and Cinema and I (1987, the first volume of a collected works project by the Ritwik Memorial Trust). Anthologies of critical writings on Ghatak by Shampa Bannerjee (1982), Haimanti Bannerjee (1985) and Rajat Roy (1979, 1983). Also scripted Swaralipi (1961), Kumari Mon (1962), Dwiper Nam Tiya Rang (1963) and Raj Kanya (1965). Within the political framework of WW2, the 1943 famine and Partition, Ghatak launched with Ajantrik a new investigation into film form, expanding the refugee experience into a universalised leitmotiv of cultural dismemberment and exile evoking an epic tradition drawing on tribal, folk and classical forms (Buddhist sculpture, Baul music, the khayal). As a film-maker investigating cinema’s image-sound dialectic in epic constructs, Ghatak’s unconventional, even idiosyncratic use of e.g. Tagore in his films - evoking the character of Shakuntala from Prachin Sahitya in Komal Gandhar, and the Shishu Tirth sequence in the bar in ubarnarekha - has been analysed in contrast to the assimilation of Tagore in other Bengali films. Aesthetically his work can be placed alongside that of Bengali novelist Manik Bandyopadhyay (1908-56) and the teachings of his musical forbear Ustad Allauddin Khan. His influence has been most fundamental on his FTII students (1964-5), e.g. Kumar Shahani, Mani Kaul and John Abraham.

FILMOGRAPHY (* act only): 1950: Tathapi*; Chinnamul*; 1952: Bedeni (incomplete); Nagarik; 1954: Naramedh Yagya; 1955: Adivasiyon Ka Jeevan Srot (Doc); Bihar Ke Darshaniya Sthan (Doc); 1957: Ajantrik; 1959: Bari Theke Paliye; Kata Ajanare (incomplete); 1960: Meghe Dhaka Tara; 1961: Komal Gandhar; 1962: Subarnarekha; Scissors (Sh); 1963: Ustad Allauddin Khan (Doc) (uncredited); 1964: Bagalar Bangadarshan (incomplete); 1965: Fear (Sh); Rendezvous (Sh); 1967: Scientists of Tomorrow (Doc); 1968: Raunger Gholam (incomplete); 1970: Puruliar Chhou Nritya (Doc); Amar Lenin (Sh); Yeh Kyun? (Sh); 1971: Durbargati Padma (Sh); 1972: Indira Gandhi (Doc) (incomplete); 1973: Titash Ekti Nadir Naam; 1974: Jukti Takko Aar Gappo; 1975: Ramkinker (Doc) (incomplete).