The Un-Common Connection: Ritwik Ghatak & Guru Dutt (WBRi Feature)

By Arin Paul

A collage tribute to Ritwik Ghatak by Arin Paul on 50 years of Meghe Dhaka Tara
A collage by Arin Paul - tribute to Ritwik Ghatak on 50 years of Meghe Dhaka Tara

Ritwik Ghatak, India (1925- 1976)

Image via Wikipedia

[Editor's Note: The Complete Ritwik Ghatak Bengali Movie DVD Collection Box Set has now been released in North America (USA/Canada). The collector's boxed set includes all 8 films by Ritwik Ghatak - Nagarik (The Citizen-1952), Ajantrik (Pathetic Fallacy-1958), Bari Theke Paliye (Runaway-1959), Meghe Dhaka Tara (The Cloud Capped Star-1960), Komal Gandhar (1961), Subarnarekha (The Golden Line-1962), Titas Ekti Nadir Naam (A River Named Titas-1973), Jukti Takko aar gappo (Arguments and a Story-1974). Click here to order online.]

Calcutta, 30th June, 2011 (Washington Bangla Radio / OOBE): Ritwik Ghatak considered being one of the greatest and most significant filmmakers in Indian & Bengali cinema and Guru Dutt, often credited with ushering in the golden era of Hindi cinema had things very similar often overlooked. Though both the Legends were overlooked in their own lifetimes but had belatedly generated international recognition. Both Ghatak and Dutt started their directorial careers in early fifties. Dutt’s debut film was Baazi in 1951 whereas Ghatak’s debut film was Nagarik in 1952. What’s interesting and overlooked is that both these film-makers have directed eight movies in their lifetime. Ritwik Ghatak’s immortal eight films are Nagarik (The Citizen) (1952/1977), Ajantrik (The Unmechanical or The Pathetic Fallacy) (1958), Bari Theke Paliye (The Runaway) (1958), Meghe Dhaka Tara (The Cloud-Capped Star) (1960), Komol Gandhar (E-Flat) (1961), Subarnarekha (1962/1965), Titash Ekti Nadir Naam (A River Called Titash) (1973) and Jukti Takko Aar Gappo (Reason, Debate and a Story) (1974). And Guru Dutt’s immortal eight films are Baazi (A Game of Chance)  (1951), Jaal (The Net) (1952), Baaz (The Hawk) (1953), Aar Paar ( This or That) (1954), Mr. & Mrs. '55 (1955), Sailaab (1956), Pyaasa (The Thirsty) (1957) and Kaagaz Ke Phool (1959).

Guru Dutt was born as Vasanth Kumar Shivashankar Padukone in Bangalore on 9th July, 1925 and Ritwik Kumar Ghatak was born in Rajshahi (the then East Bengal and presently Bangladesh) on 4th November, 1925. Ritwik Ghatak moved to Calcutta (now Kolkata) with his family during the Bengal Famine on 1943 whereas Guru Dutt moved to Calcutta and settled in Bhowanipur as his father got a job in the city. Guru Dutt entered the film industry in 1944 with a job of a choreographer in Prabhat Film Company, Poona (now Pune) whereas Ghatak entered the film industry in 1950 as an assistant director and actor. Ritwik Ghatak was also briefly at Pune as he taught at Film & Television Institute of India (FTII) in 1966. Dutt married well known play back singer Geeta Ghosh Roy Chowdhuri famous as Geeta Dutt in 1953 and Ghatak married Surama Ghatak in 1955.

Ritwik Ghatak acted in six movies namely Tathapi (1950), Chinnamool (1951), Kumari Mon (1962), Subarnarekha (1962/1965), Titash Ekti Nadir Naam (1973) and Jukti Takko Aar Gappo (1974). Guru Dutt acted in 17 films namely Chand (1944), Lakha Rani (1945), Hum Ek Hain (1946), Baaz (1953), Aar Paar (1954), Mr. & Mrs. '55 (1955), Pyaasa (1957), 12 O'Clock (1958), Kaagaz Ke Phool (1959), Chaudhvin Ka Chand (1960), Sautela Bhai (1962), Sahib Bibi Aur Ghulam (1962), Bharosa (1963), Bahurani (1963), Suhagan (1964), Sanjh Aur Savera (1964) and Picnic (1964) (Incomplete).

Again talking on incomplete films, both these film-makers had quite a few. Ghatak’s incomplete films were Bedeni (1951), Kato Ajanare (1959), Bagolar Bangodarshan (1964–65), Ronger Golam (1968) and Ramkinkar (1975). And Guru Dutt’s incomplete films were Gauri (1957) and Picnic (1964).

Guru Dutt had produced eight films: Aar Paar (1955), C.I.D. (1956), Pyaasa (1957), Gauri (1957) , Kaagaz Ke Phool (1959), Chaudhvin Ka Chand (1960), Sahib Bibi Aur Ghulam (1962) and Baharein Phir Bhi Aayengi (1966) too whereas Ghatak had written six films: Musafir (1957), Madhumati (1958), Swaralipi (1960), Kumari Mon (1962), Deeper Nam Tiya Rong (1963) and Rajkanya (1965) apart from his own films.

Even in Death they had a thing in common, Pain. Guru Dutt passed away on 10th October, 1964 as he was found dead in his apartment. His death was caused due to overdose of alcohol and sleeping pills. Ritwik Ghatak passed way on 6th February, 1974 at Calcutta’s SSKM hospital as he suffered from cholera. He was also on high alcohol.

“My first film was called a picaresque episodic film along the lines of the eighteenth century Spanish novel Gil Blas De Santillane; the second was called a film of documentary approach; the next was a melodrama, and the fourth, nothing at all, just no film.” ~~~ Ritwik Ghatak (Cinema and I).

“Life mein, yaar, kya hai? Do hi toh cheezen hai – kamyaabi aur failure. There is nothing in between." ("What is there in life, friend? There are only two things - success and failure. There is nothing in between.") ~~~ Guru Dutt.

Arin PaulArin Paul (Interview)  is a critically acclaimed Bengali film director from Kolkata. In addition to numerous accomplishments as a director, Arin is a founder member and President of the Bangla Telefilm Club - the first telefilm club in the world, and a founder member and administrator of the wildly popular facebook group Cinemania. Arin can be reached via e-mail at aarinzz [at] gmail [dot] com.

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