Ritwik Ghatak, though underrated, is one the most important filmmakers of all times. His movies reflect a sense of loss, pain and a pang of separation from the homeland. Ghatak, a partition victim, was forced to migrate to Calcutta (now Kolkata) in West Bengal. He very realistically, practically and sensibly projected these feelings of refugee-hood and homelessness in his magnum opus ‘Meghe Dhaka Tara’ (1960). Though his first commercial release was ‘Ajantrik’ in the year 1958, Meghe Dhaka Tara catapulted and also cemented his position as one of the most important and sensible filmmakers of all times.
Why Meghe Dhaka Tara is important can only be realized if one goes through the politics, state, and condition of the people who were forced to migrate due to partition. The pangs of these partition victims are well depicted in this classic take on post-partition melodrama. The family in the movie question goes through untold miseries, sorrows, and sufferings. Ritwik Ghatak through his protagonist, Neeta (played by Supriya Choudhury), brings forth what it needs to be a great human being. Neeta discontinues her studies to support the family. They begin to thrive on her small and significant earnings.
The movie set in a stark real and crude reality teaches the viewers the ‘importance of being an earnest.’ Neeta’s father, mother, two brothers and a sister are all dependent on her income which forces her to work tirelessly without showing any contempt or disregard towards anyone. In a word, she is exploited by most of her family members. Even her younger sister leaves her in the lurch by alluring her would-be husband. Neeta breaks down, but her indomitable will and determination keep her going and growing through life.
Ghatak’s projection of women in his other films is also similar in their tone. The way he treats Neeta makes the audience cry buckets. The pangs of pain of partition loom large in Ghatak’s movies. Neeta’s supreme sacrifice elevates humanity to a lofty stage which is celestial, heavenly and above all holy and sublime. He eternalizes and immortalizes the trauma and ordeal of partition that torn apart the country.
By Shanku Sharma
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