Mar 18, 2014

23rd March 2014; A River Called Titas by Ritwik Ghatak

A River Called Titas
A film by Ritwik Ghatak

Bangladesh/ 1973/ 158 minutes, in Bengali with English subtitles, black and white.
Based on a novel by by Advaita Malla Burman.
Restored in 2010 by the World Cinema Foundation and Cineteca di Bologna.

Screening on 23rd March ; 5.45pm
Perks Mini Theater

Ritwik Ghatak adapts Advaita Malla Barman sweeping novel detailing the downfall of a once-thriving fishing village situated along the River Titas. The tale is set among the Malo fishermen who toil on the waters of the Titas. The community includes both Hindu and Muslim families, though Hindu characters dominate the narrative. The central figures are Basanti, a young girl: Kishore, a fisherman: Rajar Khi, Kishore’s bride; and Ananta, Rajar’s son. 
We first see Basanti as a young girl in the village. Kishore and his brother Subol go on a fishing trip. It is on this trip that Kishore meets Rajar, whom he rescues in a village conflict. He then marries her and takes her back to his village. However, river bandits abduct her and this drives Kishore crazy. Basanti, who envisaged marrying Kishore, marries Subol instead, but he is drowned on the day of the wedding. There is an ellipsis of ten years.
Rajar with her son Ananta arrives in the village seeking shelter. Neither she nor Kishore recognise each other. The situation creates conflicts over traditional values regarding marriage and child rearing. Kishore is attacked and dies, and Rajar drowns alongside him. Basanti now takes care of Ananta; a situation objected to by Basanti’s parents. More village and domestic feuding lead to Ananta leaving to live with another family. At the end the river dries up [partly due to a scheme engineered by the  landowners]. The village falls apart.

The film seems full of Bengali and Indian cultural references. There is a lot more complexity in the plot and characters of the film.. There is also a rich palette in the film’s visual and aural style. Ghatak has a great command of camera and mise en scène. There are numerous fine sequences. In particular late in the film there is a boat race on the river, which is enthralling in its presentation. This is a film which one should encourage local exhibitors to book and screen. (Excerpts from an article in )

1925 – 1976

Ritwik Ghatak was born in Dhaka in East Bengal (now Bangladesh). He belonged to an illustrious family. His father Suresh Chandra Ghatak was a district magistrate and also a poet and playwright, mother's name was Indubala Devi. He and his family moved to Kolkata just before millions of other refugees from East Bengal began to flood into the city, fleeing the catastrophic 1943 famine and the Partition of India in 1947. Identification with this tide of refugees was to define his practice, providing an overriding metaphor for cultural dismemberment and exile that unified his subsequent creative work.

In 1948, Ghatak wrote his first play Kalo sayar (The Dark Lake), and participated in a revival of the landmark play Nabanna. In 1951, Ghatak joined the Indian People's Theatre 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 film industry with Nemai Ghosh's Chinnamul (1950) as actor and assistant director. Chinnamul was followed two years later by Ghatak's first completed film Nagarik (1952), both major break-throughs for the Indian cinema. Ritwik Ghatak directed eight full-length films. Ghatak moved briefly to Pune in 1966, where he taught at the Film and Television Institute of India (FTII) and John Abraham, Kumar Shahani and Mani Kaul were among  his students .

Ritwik Ghatak Filmography:
• Nagarik (The Citizen-1952)
• Ajantrik (Pathetic Fallacy-1958)
• Bari Theke Paliye (Runaway-1959)
• Meghe Dhaka Tara (The Cloud Capped Star-1961)
• 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)

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