[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.]
Meghe Dhaka Tara – Celebrating 50 years
by arin paul
Meghe Dhaka Tara (1960) - Trailer
In one of his last interviews Ritwik Ghatak had said when asked Why does he make films, “Why films? Because I am totally crazy. I can not live without making films. Must not we do something? So I make these films. No other reason really.”
Well, one of the greatest films of Indian Cinema was hence given life by the Man, who had to do something. Meghe Dhaka Tara (The Cloud-Capped Star) was made and released on 14th April, 1960. And this year (2010) we celebrate the 50th Year of The Classic.
Meghe Dhaka Tara written by Ritwik Ghatak (scenario) and Shaktipada Rajguru (story) starred Supriya Choudhury, Anil Chatterjee, Niranjan Ray, Gita Ghatak, Bijon Bhattacharya, Gita Dey, Dwiju Bhawal, Gyanesh Mukherjee, Ranen Roy Choudhury and Others. Cinematography by Dinen Gupta, Music by Jyotirindra Moitra & Ustad Bahadur Khan and Edited by Ramesh Joshi.
Ritwik Ghatak had said, “The title 'Meghe Dhaka Tara' was given by me, original story was published in a popular newspaper by the name of 'Chenamukh'. Something in this story stirred me. And that is why Shakespeare’s 'The Cloud Capped Star' struck my mind and I decided to pen a new script all together. It could be a bit sentimental, but to throw overtones out of it came to mind gradually. Here I made use of Indian mythology which is a part of my life. 'MegheDhaka Tara' expressed my thoughts.”
The film is about Neeta (Supriya Choudhury) and her brother (Anil Chatterjee). Their family were refugees and lived in the suburbs of Calcutta. Self-sacrificing Neeta would always be exploited by everyone including her family. The only person to take care of her was her brother. Her scream at the end of the film, “Dada Aami Bachte Chai (Brother, I Want To Live)” is one of the most dramatic and remembered scene from the Classic.
An interesting info is that Ritwik Ghatak wanted Ruma Guha Thakurta to play the lead character but she couldn’t as she was busy shooting for Rajen Tarafdar’s film Ganga.
Supriya Choudhury had said, “One thing I felt that there wasn't anything false in Ritwik Da. He was very normal. Then practically I had no idea about film. Didn't know much about acting, yet kept on acting--five-ten films... I guess I learnt acting in the true sense from him... Ritwik Da's sensibility is a big plus point of this film.”
Wikipedia mentions, “The film is perhaps the most widely viewed film among Ghatak's works; it was his greatest commercial success at home, and coincided with an international film movement towards personal stories and innovative techniques.”
The film is unforgettable. The music and songs were very soothing be it “Majhi Tor Naam Janina” or “Laagi Lagan” or “Jai Mata” or “ Je Raate Mor Duar Guli” or “Karim Naam Tero”.
Dinen Gupta had said, “For the music, all credit goes to Ritwik Ghatak. Bahadur Khan played, A.T.Kanon sang, but he got the best out of them... The speciality of Riwik Babu -- everything was in his mind, nothing in the script... There was dimensional surprise, improvisation. But what he would want was clear.”
The opening shot of the film is one of the best shots of all times, where a big tree is seen in a wide frame.
Anil Chatterjee remembered, “During 'Meghe Dhaka Tara', Ritwik Da used to say that the producers were trying to get a 'commercial film' by of him... There wasn't anything commercial in the whole approach I believe. If the film had become a success, it was because it was able to reach the human mind.”
We can always talk endlessly about the man and his creation.
Ritwik Ghatak's new film 'Meghe Dhaka Tara'... constitutes a glorious triumph for the rising group of young film-makers who have been striving to rescue the cinema from the quagmire of escapist entertainment...His entire approach is realistic to a poetic degree and he shows exceptional imagination and warm sensitiveness in building up the climate situations which leave an inedible impression on the audience mind. -- Amrita Bazar Patrika, 22 April,1960.
As a film-maker,
Ritwik Ghatak has his forte, he has his originality.
If his style is to be categorized,
well, it's a new dimension of the Neo-Realist school.
Countrymen have already experienced a bit of it in his previous films
such as 'Ajantrik' and 'Bari Theke Paliye'.
'Meghe Dhaka Tara' has abundance and reached the pinnacle of it. -- Jugantor, 22April, 1960.
To begin (not 'to end'), here is what Ritwik Ghatak had said, “Every work of art is distinct. The form comes out of its theme, philosophy and reflections. I picked the form I felt right for its themes. So there is no point in asking about change in forms. Content dictated it.”
Arin Paul 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.