Meghe Dhaka Tara
|Meghe Dhaka Tara|
|Directed by||Ritwik Ghatak|
|Written by||Ritwik Ghatak (screenplay), Shaktipada Rajguru(the original novel)|
Ranen Ray Choudhury
|Running time||134 minutes|
Meghe Dhaka Tara (Bengali: মেঘে ঢাকা তারা Mēghē Ḍhākā Tārā, meaning The Cloud-Capped Star) is a 1960 film written and directed by Ritwik Ghatak, based on a social novel by Shaktipada Rajguru with the same title. It stars Supriya Choudhury, Anil Chatterjee, Gita Dey, Bijan Bhattacharya, Niranjan Roy, and Gyanesh Mukherjee. It was part of the trilogy, Meghe Dhaka Tara (1960), Komal Gandhar (1961), and Subarnarekha (1962), all dealing with the aftermath of the Partition of Bengal during the Partition of India in 1947 and the refugees coping with it.
This film was directed by alternative filmmaker Ritwik Ghatak in Kolkata (then Calcutta). In contrast to many Bollywood films made in Mumbai, India's main film center, Ghatak's films are formally elaborate and somber, and often address issues related to the Partition of India. Although Partition is never explicitly mentioned in Meghe Dhaka Tara, it takes place in a refugee camp in the outskirts of Calcutta, and concerns an impoverished genteel Hindu bhadralok family and the problems they face because of Partition.
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 so-called 'new wave'). After Ghatak's death, his work (and this film in particular) began to attract a more sizable global audience, via film festivals and the subsequent release of DVDs both in India and in Europe.
In a confirmation of the popularity of Meghe Dhaka Tara, a recent survey by a leading Indian news group reported that the concluding line of the film, "Dada, ami baachte chai" ("Brother, I want to live") was the most well-known line of any film.
Meghe Dhaka Tara is strongly melodramatic in tone, especially as concerns the sufferings heaped on the protagonist. As in many of his other films, Ghatak also uses surrealistic sound effects, such as sounds of a lashing as the heroine suffers yet another tragic twist of fate.
In 2002, Meghe Dhaka Tara was ranked at #231 on the Sight & Sound critics' and directors' poll for all-time greatest films. The movie is also listed in the book 1001 Movies You Must See Before You Die, which praises "the grace of Ghatak's mise en scène, his expressionist sound design, and the enormous sense of loss."
The film revolves around Neeta (played by Supriya Choudhury), a beautiful young girl who lives with her family, refugees from East Pakistan, in the suburbans of Calcutta. Neeta is a self-sacrificing person who is constantly exploited by everyone around her, even her own family, who take her goodness for granted. Her elder brother (played by Anil Chatterjee) does not care for the family as he wants to be a singer, so she needs to take the burden. Her life is ridden with personal tragedy: she loses first her fiancé, then her job and finally her health by contracting tuberculosis. Her mostly absent would-be singer brother is the only person who cares about her at the end. In the end, she screams out her agony, throwing herself into her brother's arms. She utters her last words: "Brother, I want to survive (দাদা, আমি বাঁচতে চাই।)."
- Story: Shaktipada Rajguru
- Screenplay: Ritwik Ghatak
- Cinematography: Dinen Gupta
- Assistant: Soumendu Ray, Sunil Chakraborty, Sukhendu Dasgupta, Krishnadhan Chakraborty, Shankar Guha, Mahendra Kumar, Agnu
- Editing: Ramesh Joshi
- Assistant: Gobinda Chattopadhay, Punu Sen
- Sound: Satyen Chatterjee
- Art Direction: Rabi Chatterjee
- Music: Jyotirindra Moitra, Ustad Bahadur Khan
- Production: Chitrakalpa
- 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, 22 April 1960.
- It is the cry of the dying girl in Meghe Dhaka Tara which echoes through the hills, our right to live... The breaking up of society is visualised as a three way division of womanhood. The three principal woman characters embody the traditional aspects of feminine power. The heroine, Neeta, has the preserving and nurturing quality; her sister, Geeta, is the sensual woman; their mother represents the cruel aspect. – Kumar Sahani
- By watching Ghatak's Meghe Dhaka Tara, I derived that pleasure by which the mind gets mesmerised by the sad aspect of life, and gets purified by the artistic communication's receiving and protesting. May be that's called the essence of tragedy by the pundits. – Bishnu Dey
- Prometheus had to be punished as he learnt how to make fire. Memory let Neera know that being a woman, she wanted to transcend the prison of womanhood.She must be punished. To attack establishment means the counterattack from the establishment; Ritwik Ghatak and his heroine wanted to gift that example to history. This death is more living than life. – Sanjay Mukhopadhay
Ghatak on the film
- 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. 'Meghe Dhaka Tara' expressed my thoughts.
Cast and crew on the film
- 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. – Supriya Chaudhury
- 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. – Anil Chatterjee
- There are few who won't be born again. Will there be another Ritwik Da? During 'Meghe Dhaka Tara', he used to tell me 'You know Gita, the role you are playing is Surama, and Bijan is me'. –Gita Ghatak
- 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. – Dinen Gupta
Screening of Meghe Dhaka Tara in different festivals
- 1968: Ritwik Film Festival by Calcutta Cine Institute
- 1968: Ritwik Film Festival by Jadavpur University
- 1974: Ritwik Film Festival by Bengali club of Delhi
- 1976: Ritwik Ghatak Retrospective at Society Theatre by Federation of Film Society
- 1978: International Film Festival, Madras (Chennai)
- 1982: Ritwik Film Festival by London film and Theatre Festival
- 1983: Ritwik Film Festival, France
- 1985: Ritwik Ghatak Retrospective at India International Centre, Delhi
- 1985: 25 anniversary by Ritwik Memorial Trust at the Nandan
- 1985: Festival of India Celebration, USA
- 1986: Major Retospective of Indian Cinema, Lisbon
- 1987: Film section of Festival of India, Switzerland
- 1987: Festival of India in Japan
- 1987: Celebrating Ghatak's birthday at Nandan celebration
- 1987: Ritwik Festival by the Bombay Screen Unit
- 1988: Ritwik Festival at Gorky Sadan jointly organised by Ritwik Memorial Trust and Eisenstein Cine Club, Calcutta
- 1990: Ritwik Retrospective at Rotterdam Film Festival, Netherlands
- 1990: Ritwik Retrspective organised by Chennai Film Society, Madras
- 1990: Locarno Film Festival, Switzerland
- 1991: Ritwik Film Festival, Zurich
- 1992: Film Festival titled 'Amader Bhalobasar Ritwik' at Ganabhaban, organised by Uttarapara Cine Club
- 1997: New York film festival
- 1998: Part of 'Classic Film Classic Directors' category', Calcutta International Film Festival
- 1999: Best Masterpiece Film, Pusan Film Festival
- 1999: Barcelona, Madrid
- 2012: Toronto International Film Festival, Canada
- 2012: Kolar Hills Film Festival, Bangalore (Bettadalli Ghatak: A Festival of Ritwik Ghatak's Films)
- 2012: 10th Pune International Film Festival, Pune
- "The Cloud Capped Star (1960)". NYTimes. Retrieved 3 August 2012.
- Rosalind Galt; Karl Schoonover (2010). Global Art Cinema: New Theories and Histories. Oxford University Press. ISBN 0-19-538562-4.
- "2002 Sight & Sound Top Films Survey of 253 International Critics & Film Directors". Cinemacom. 2002. Retrieved 2009-04-19.
- Schneider, Steven Jay, ed. 1001 Movies You Must See Before You Die." New York: Quintessence, 2008. p. 378.
- "Ritwik Ghatak’s "Meghe Dhaka Tara" to screen at Toronto 2012". DearCinema.com. 2012-08-01. Retrieved 2012-10-08.
- "ಆದಿಮ ಬೆಟ್ಟದಲ್ಲಿ ಋತ್ವಿಕ್ ಘಟಕ್: ಪ್ರಕಾಶ್ ಬಾಬು ಬರಹ - ಪ್ರಕಾಶ್ ಬಾಬು - ಕೆಂಡಸಂಪಿಗೆ". Kendasampige.com. Retrieved 2012-10-08.
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