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Ritwik Ghatak: An Underrated Genius

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Very few people in the world are blessed to be able to experience the accolades for their contribution in their life span, others are called maverick underrated genius like Ritwik Ghatak. Ritwik Ghatak, born on 4th Nov 1925 and going on to live for 50 years breathing his last on 6th Feb 1976, was one such genius who in a relatively smaller work and lifespan managed to stand atop alongside the other Mozarts of the filmmaking craft like Satyajit Ray and many more. He is believed to have been an individual with a very unique and independent working style which made his way of storytelling different from the rest. He was one of the torchbearers of the parallel cinema which stood for intelligent and serious cinema at that point of time till date. In his 50 years lifespan of which the work-span was even more limited, he managed to mesmerize the audience with the depiction of realism which was filtered through his sociopolitical outlook and that was a result of the hardships he faced during his lifetime.

In addition to being a director, he has been a writer and has been actively associated with the theater, cinema academia and as principal of FTII. Having shot to fame in the international arena with his mastercraft, he was awarded Padam Shree Award in the year 1970. It is interesting to note that despite being referred as the finest gems in the area of filmmaking that India has produced, he only had 8 full length feature films to his credit. This speaks volumes of the impact that his 8 films made in comparison to the tons of films made by his contemporaries. It can be argued and debated as to if he has been the best filmmaker India has produced but his contribution in the field of filmmaking cannot be sidelined when discussing the best of Indian cinema. He not only contributed through his films but also has to his credit more than 50 articles and essays which are more enlightening than the contribution of many filmmakers put together. Remembering Ghatak is incomplete without the mentions of his work which includes one of the most critically acclaimed films i.e. Megha Dhake Tara (Cloud Capped Star) which highlights the atrocities experienced by the refugees in the face of the partition of Bengal. His another masterpiece Ajantrik is often labelled as the first Indian sci-fi. His another film Madhumita directed in 1958 talked about reincarnation way before films like Karz and Om Shanti Om brought it to the spotlight. He has many more films to his credit but the highlight of his worked included the focus on the human emotions which were further centered towards the pain and agony like the ones experienced by the refugees.

We generally remember these legends on their birthdays and their death anniversaries but it is important that the legends like Ghatak be remembered each day for the way they have brought human emotions to the fore.

Pramod Pandey

DME, Media School

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