Ritwik Ghatak Trilogy

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Long after ViftMk Ghatak's lonely death, the significance of his work is finally bursting out of its obscurity. His films arefextremely difficult P^see in India, and he is yet unknown !o,;th,e ; '?.'. larger Indian audience. But the film*; i; ^ themselves, brilliant and abrasive, are gradually revolutionary achievements in conterftfKOfafy ' ;i:f'.,.., criticism of Ghatak's work in, English, examines it within the modern1 Indian tradition. Ashish Rajadhyaksha (25) is a journaU^ has been a regular contributor to yatfit> journal's on the 1 r»t)i:'||tt! art see ne. • /

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Ashish

Rajadhyaksha

RITWIK GHATAK A RETURN TO THE EPIC

Screen Unit

First printed in Bombay, 1982, by Screen Unit H-156 Mohan Nagar, off Datta Mandir Road, Dahanukar Wadi, Kandivili (W), Bombay 400067 No part of this manuscript may be reproduced or used in translation, without prior consent of Screen Unit ALL RIGHTS RESERVED Printed by Arun Naik at Akshar Pratiroop Pvt Ltd 42 Ambekar Marg, Bombay 400 031. Cover: Milon Mukherjee Design :Raza Modak Layout: Yeshwant Sawant, Yeshwant Pandit

For my mother

Price : Rs 45 Overseas : $ 9

ACKNOWLEDGEMENTS

CONTENTS

This book could not have been written without the help of Arun Khopkar. Apart from his encouragement and suggestions which have been of vital use, I am particularly grateful for his painstaking translation of parts of Eisenstein's Non-Indifferent Nature from the Russian and French specifically for the purposes of this study. I am also grateful to Ceeta Kapur for her extended comments, and Kumar Shahani for his help which was curtailed by the fact that he himself features so prominently in the book. I would like to in fact use this opportunity to acknowledge a deep personal debt to Kumar for his encouragement and patience. With Chatak's films still so difficult to see, I am grateful to the National Film Archive of India for having extended to me their facilities of seeing films and taking stills, and to Prakash Yadav of Kiran Arts for his fine and expeditious work. I would like to thank Shanta Gokhale for her painstaking editing of my manuscript, Amrit Cangarof Screen Unit for atl his help, and Haimanti Bannerjee who made available her own analysis of Meghe Dhaka Tara to me. I must particularly acknowledge the tremendous help given to me by my father in every possible way.

Introduction

9 13

The Backdrop—Partition Chapter 1 The Dominant Tradition

16

Chapter 2 The Freedom Of The Archetype Chapter 3 Towards A Materialism of Cinema Chapter 4 After Ghatak

33

119

Ashish Rajadhyaksha

130

Notes

144

Introduction

m

When we return across the barriers of time to the work of an artist no longer with us, we have to somewhere acknowledge those barriers and state the means we have used to overcome them. If we consider for instance the historical circumstances under which the artist worked, we must face the question of how their relevance might extend to a changed present. Would the criticism isolate the artist? or would it enlarge upon his work ? Where, eventually, would we place ourselves within such a historical canvas defined around the subject of our criticism ? Established conventions of art-criticism often demand an objectivity, a mandatory distance from one's subject. I n such a form of criticism there is often a sense of passing judgement. But if there is one thing we shall not do here, it would be to'judge' RitwikChatak. I fan artist as enormously relevant to the present as Ghatak demands an objectivity, it is a radical objectivity, a statement of bias rather than a false neutrality. The relationship of the individual to the historical process, never insignificant, here becomes of overwhelming importance because of Chatak's own historical consciousness. The process of individuation through history, important in his films, here becomes as important for us as we move beyond false glorification and relate...
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