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Ritwik Ghatak

Renowned Indian film director, screenwriter and playwright, whose cinema is primarily remembered for its meticulous depiction of social reality, partition and feminism

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Ritwik Ghatak (4 November 1925 - 6 February 1976) was born in Dhaka in East Bengal (now Bangladesh). He and his family moved to Calcutta (now Kolkata) in West Bengal soon after millions of refugees from eastern Bengal began arriving in the city, people who survived the devastating Bengal famine of 1943 and the Partition of Bengal in 1947. Due to this they started migrating from there. This experience of refugee life is reflected in his work, which has served as an overarching metaphor for cultural disconnection and exile and a thread throughout much of his later creative work. The Bangladesh Liberation War of 1971, which brought more refugees to India, equally influenced his work.

In 1948, Ghatak wrote his first play Kalo Sayar (The Dark Lake) and participated in the revival of the historical play Nabanna . In 1951, Ghatak became associated with the Indian People's Theater Association (IPTA). He wrote, directed and acted in plays and translated Bertolt Brecht and Gogol into Bengali. In 1957, he wrote and directed his last play Jwala (The Burning).

Ghatak entered the film industry as an actor and assistant director with Nimai Ghosh's Chinnamul (1950). Ghatak's first full-length film Nagrik (1952) came two years after Chinnamul , both of which were milestones for Indian cinema . Ghatak's early works emphasized a dramatic and literary primacy and combined a documentary realism with stylized performances derived from folk theaters, combined with the use of Brechtian filmmaking devices.

Ghatak's first commercial release was Ajantrik (1958), a comedy-drama film with a science fiction theme. It was one of the first films in India to feature an inanimate object, in which an automobile was introduced as a character in the story.

The film Madhumati (1958), Ghatak's biggest commercial success as a screenwriter, was one of the first films to deal with the theme of reincarnation. It was a Hindi film directed by another Bengali director Bimal Rai. The film earned Ghatak his first nomination for the Filmfare Award for Best Story.

Ritwik Ghatak directed eight full-length films. His best-known films, Meghe Dhaka Tara (The Cloud-capped Star) (1960), Komal Gandhar (E-flat) (1961) and Suvarnarikha (The Golden Line) (1962), were a trilogy based in Calcutta that dealt with refugee-life situations. The condition was addressed which proved controversial and Komal Gandhar (E-flat) and SuvarnarikshaAfter the commercial failure of 1960s, he gave up on making films based on the memories of the 1960s. In all three films, he used a basic story and sometimes a conflicting realistic story, on which he incorporated several mythic references, particularly that of the Mother Deliverer, which he presented through a dense overlay of visuals and sound.

In 1966, Ghatak moved briefly to Pune , where he taught at the Film and Television Institute of India (FTII). During his years at FTII, he contributed to the production of two student films, Fear and Rondevu .

Ghatak returned to filmmaking in the 1970s when a Bangladeshi producer financed the epic Titash Akti Nodir Naam ( Titas is the name of a river ) in 1973. His poor health due to excessive alcohol consumption and the resulting diseases made it difficult for him to make films. His last film was the autobiographical one titled Jukti Tokko Aar Goppo (Rhyme, Debate and Story) (1974), in which he played the lead character Neelkantho (Neelkanth). He had several unfinished features and short films to his credit.

At the time of his death (February 1976), Ghatak's primary influence appeared to be through former students. Although his film teaching stint at FTII was brief, his one-time students Mani Kaul, John Abraham and especially Kumar Shahani carried Ghatak's ideas and theories into the mainstream of Indian artistic cinema, which are detailed in their book Cinema and I. I get His other students at FTII include acclaimed filmmakers Saeed Akhtar Mirza and Adoor Gopalakrishnan.

Ghatak was completely outside the world of Indian commercial film. None of the attributes of commercial cinema (sing and dance, theatrics, stars, glare) are seen in his work. His films were seen by students and intellectuals rather than by the general public. His students also tend to work in the artistic cinema or independent cinema tradition.

While other realist directors such as Satyajit Ray were able to find an audience outside India during their lifetime , Ghatak was not so lucky. During his lifetime, his films were mainly appreciated in India. Satyajit Ray did whatever he could to promote his colleague, but even Ray's generous praise was unable to garner international fame for Ghatak. For example, Ghatak's Nagorik (1952) was perhaps the first of Bengali feature films, followed three years later by Ray's Pather Panchali , but Ghatak's film was released only after his death in 1977. His first commercial release Ajantrik (1958) also featured inanimate objects, The automobile was one of the first Indian films to feature the story as a character, several years before the Herbie films. Ghatak's Bari Theke Paliye (1958) had a similar story to François Truffaut 's later film The 400 Blows (1959), but Ghatak's film faded into obscurity while Truffaut's went on to become one of the most celebrated of the French New Wave. One of the movies. One of Ghatak's final films, A River Named Titas (1973), was one of the first to be told in a hyperlink format, featuring a collection of characters in interconnected stories, and was a reference to Robert Altman's film Nashville . (1975) was made two years before.

Ghatak's only major commercial success was Madhumati (1958), a Hindi film and he wrote the screenplay . It was one of the earliest films to feature the theme of reincarnation and is believed to have been the source of the theme of reincarnation in many subsequent Indian cinema , Indian television and perhaps world cinema . It became the inspiration for the American film The Reincarnation of Peter Proud (1975) and the Hindi film Karz (1980), both of which dealt with reincarnation and were influential in their respective cultures. Karz in particular has been remade several times: Kannada filmYug Purush (1989), the Tamil film Enakul Oruvan (1984) and the more recent Bollywood film Karzzzz (2008). Karz and the reincarnation of Peter Proud may have inspired the American film Chances Are (1989). The most recent film to be directly inspired by Madhumati is the hit Bollywood film Om Shanti Om (2007), leading to Bimal Roy 's daughter Rinkee Bhattacharya accusing the film of plagiarism and taking legal action against its producers. threatened.

Ghatak's work as a director also influenced many later Indian filmmakers, including those in the Bengali film industry and elsewhere. For example, Mira Nair cited Ghatak and Ray as the reason for her becoming a filmmaker. Ghatak's influence as a director took a long time to spread outside India; Beginning in the 1990s, a project to restore Ghatak's films and international exhibitions (and subsequent DVD releases) has generated an increasingly global audience of late. In a 1998 critics' poll for the greatest film of all time conducted by the Asian film magazine Cinemaya , Subarnarekha was ranked 11th on the list. In a 2002 Sight and Sound poll of critics and directors for the greatest film of all time, Meghe Dhaka Tara was placed at number 231 on the list and Gandhar Komal at number 346 . In 2007, A River Named Titas topped the list in an audience and critics' poll for the 10 best Bangladeshi films conducted by the British Film Institute.
Director and screenwriter: 

  • Nagorik (Citizen) (1952)

  • Ajantrik (Ayantrik, Pathetic Illusion) (1958)

  • Bari Theke Paliye (The Fugitive) (1958)

  • Meghe Dhaka Tara (The Star Covered with Clouds) (1960)

  • Komol Gandhar (E-flat) (1961)

  • Subarnarekha (1962/1965)

  • Titash ekti nadir naam (Titash is the name of a river) (1973)

  • Jukti Tokko R Goppo (Reason, Argument and a Story) (1974)


  • Musafir (1957)

  • Madhumati (1958)

  • Swaralipi (1960)

  • Kumari Mon (1962)

  • Deeper Nam Tia Rong (1963)

  • Princess (1965)


  • Tothapi (1950)

  • Chinnamool (1951)

  • Kumari Mon (1962)

  • Subarnarekha (1962)

  • Titus Acti Nadir Naam (1973)

  • Jukti, Tocco, R. Goppo (1974)

Short films and documentaries:

  • The Life of the Adivasis (1955)

  • Places of Historic Interest in Bihar (1955)

  • Caesar (1962)

  • Fear (1965)

  • Rondevouse (1965)

  • Civil Defense (1965)

  • Scientist of Tomorrow (1967)

  • Yeh Kyun ( Why / A Question ) (1970)

  • Amar Lenin ( My Lenin ) (1970)

  • Puruliyar Chhau ( Chhau Dance of Purulia ) (1970)

  • Durbar Gaati Padma ( Ashant Padma ) (1971)

Unfinished films and documentaries:

  • Bedeni (1951)

  • Koto Auzanare (1959)

  • Bogollar Bongodorshon (1964–65)

  • Ronger Gholam (1968)

  • Ramkinkar (1975)

Screenplays shelved before shooting:

  • Okal Bosonto (1957)

  • Amritokumbher Sondhane (1957)

  • Arjan Sardar (1958)

  • Bolidan (1963)

  • Aronyak (1963)

  • Shyam Se Neha Laagi (1964)

  • Sansar Simante (1968)

  • Padda Nadir Majhi



  • Chondrogupto (Dwijendralal Ray), actor

  • Achalayaton (Tagore) (1943), director and actor

  • Kalo Sayor (component) (1947–1948), actor and director

  • Kolonko (Bhattacharya) (1951), Actor

  • Doleel (Ghatak) (1952), actor and director

  • Koto Dhane Koto Chaal (Part) (1952)

  • Officer (Gogol) (1953), actor,

  • steel (component) (1954–1955), unstaged

  • Khorir Gondi (Bertolt Brecht)

  • Galileo Chorit (Brest)

  • Jagoron (Atindra Mozumdar), actor

  • Jolonto (Ingredient)

  • mesh (component)

  • Dakghor (Tagore)

  • Dheu (Biru Mukhopadhyay)

  • Dhenki Swarge Gelo Dhan Bhone (Component/Panu Paul)

  • Natir Pooja (Tagore)

  • Nobonno (Bhattacharya)

  • Nildorpan (Dinobondhu Mitra), actor

  • Nicher Mahal (Gorky), Unfurnished

  • Netajike Niye (constituent)

  • Poritran (Tagore)

  • Falguni (Tagore)

  • Bidyasagor (Bonophul)

  • Immersion (Tagore)

  • Vangabandor (Panu Paul), actor

  • Voter Wait (Panu Paul), Actor

  • For Travelers (Gorky), actor

  • Macbeth (Shakespeare), actor

  • Raja (Tagore)

  • Sancho (Partner), Actor

  • Sei Maye (Component), Director

  • Female Patro (Tagore)

  • Hojoborala (Sukumar Ray)


  • Ritwik Ghotoker Golpo (which also includes the short stories "Gachti", "Shikha", "Roopkotha", "Chokh", "Comrade", "Prem", "Mara" and "Raja")

  • Galileo Chorit (Bengali translation of Life of Galileo by Brecht )

  • net (play)

  • Doleel (drama)

  • Meghe Dhaka Tara (screenplay)

  • Cholochitro, Manus Abong Aro Kichu

  • Cinema and I , Ritwik Memorial Trust, Kolkata

  • on cultural front

  • Rose and Rose of Fences: Ritwik Ghatak on Cinema, Seagull Books Pvt. Ltd., Kolkata

  • Ritwik Ghatak Stories, translated from Bengali by Rani Ray New Delhi, Srishti Publishers & Distributors

  • Stories by Ritwik Ghatak, translated from Bengali to Hindi by Chandrakiran Rathi, Sambhavna Publications

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