Arlecchino Cinema > 11:00


Ritwik Ghatak


Wednesday 26/08/2020


Original version with subtitles


Film Notes

“Add to this the oblique angles of trees, river banks, the train, which seem to tilt under the tension between modes of space, empty and full. Add to this the song, its upward surges, its well-held range, its falls and sudden rises, and this train noise which cuts across the song, doubling it and harshening its rhythm. Add Shankar’s spasmodic gestures, as well as the slow variation of Nita’s movements. Then you have an image of the way in which, in three very simple shots, Ghatak establishes in his film a modulation fed by collisions and conflicts here still contained, inducing a formal disequilibrium at each instant, like an echo of the historical and personal disequilibrium which creates the pathetic basis of all his films: the partition of Bengal.”

Raymond Bellour, The Film We Accompany, “Rouge”, n. 3, 2004

 Meghe Dhaka Tara iconically represents the angst of the Partition and affective impacts of the resultant refugee crisis on women. In this film, Ghatak politicised melodrama to embody the immensity of the loss incurred by such seismic events. It is the only film in his oeuvre that succeeded commercially and is deemed a classic of world cinema. In 2012, French critic Raymond Bellour ranked it among the 10 films to have a lasting influence on him. The repercussions of rupture are depicted through the daily life of a refugee family and its sole breadwinner Nita, the protagonist. Unshackling the colonized from exclusive colonial references, Ghatak inscribed the absent subject into history by reclaiming their precolonial past through appropriation of Indian folk and mythological traditions. An avid reader of Jung, he developed the Great Mother archetype in the film as the foundation of the collective unconscious and as a shared spiritual motif among ancient cultures that fell prey to colonialism. The film has three symbolic depictions of the archetype: the nurturer, the terrible, and the seductress. Nita was born on the day of Jagaddhatri puja, a Hindu Bengali celebration of the mother goddess whose name literally translates to “the nurturer of the world”. The soundtrack is sprinkled with agomani songs, traditional Bengali folk music, presenting the timeless yearning of a mother for her estranged married daughter who cannot freely visit her parents. Carefully crafted symbolism takes the film beyond its spatiotemporal restrictions and endows a sense of universality. Nita’s swansong, therefore, becomes the resounding defiance of all refugees across geopolitical and temporal limits: “I wanted to live. I so love life, I shall live”. Using the three tenses, Ghatak links the past to the future, creating a continuum in the experiences of the colonised. The use of first person restored her from anonymity of victimhood and recovered her agency.

Sanghita Sen

Cast and Credits

Sog.: dal romanzo omonimo di Shaktipada Rajguru. Scen.: Ritwik Ghatak. F.: Dinen Gupta. M.: Ramesh Joshi. Scgf.: Rabi Chatterjee. Mus.: Jyotirindra Moitra. Int.: Supriya Choudhury (Nita), Anil Chatterjee (Shankar), Bijan Bhattacharya (Taran, il padre), Gita Dey (la madre), Gita Ghatak (Gita), Dwiju Bhawal (Mantu, il fratello), Niranjan Roy (Sanat). Prod.: Ritwik Ghatak per Chitrakalpa. DCP. Bn.