|Nagarik "The Citizen"|
|Directed by||Ritwik Ghatak|
|Produced by||Film Guild: Pramode Sengupta
|Written by||Ritwik Ghatak|
|Running time||125 minutes|
Nagarik (Bengali: নাগরিক), also spelled as Nagorik, The Citizen in English, was the first feature-length film directed by Indian director Ritwik Ghatak. Completed in 1952, it preceded Satyajit Ray's Pather Panchali as perhaps, the first example of an art film in Bengali cinema, but is deprived of that honor, since it was released twenty-four years later, after Ghatak's death. On 20 September 1977, it finally premiered at the New Empire theatre in Kolkata, India. Ritwik Ghatak directed only eight feature films, but is generally regarded as one of the few truly original Indian talents in cinema by directors such as Satyajit Ray and critics such as Derek Malcolm.
Ramu, a fresh graduate is searching for a job like many others in post-Partition Kolkata. He lives in a lower-middle-class neighborhood with his mother, father, and sister. Ramu's sister, Seeta, is dressed up and paraded in front of prospective in-laws who humiliatingly examine her. The mother is yearnful of older times when the family used to live in a better house, but she bears her suffering quietly, for the most part. The father is myopic and full of cynicism for he does not share the idealistic aspirations of his two children that better times will come. The light of Ramu's life is his girlfriend Uma, who lives in an equally precarious situation with her sister Shephali and her mother. Jatin is an even poorer minor character living near Uma's dwelling who Ramu avoids because he cannot help the former out financially. To make ends meet, Ramu's mother takes in Sagar, a poor chemist, as a paying guest. Ramu does not get a job and cannot pay rent even with the meagre money that he gets from Sagar and is insulted by the landlord. Ultimately the family is evicted.
Just before the family has to leave to go stay in slums, Ramu visits Uma and tells him they are moving. Uma offers to help them set up in the new dwelling, an obvious sign of humanism on Ghatak's part. Shephali, her sister, cannot bear to live in poverty any longer, so she leaves home with a shady man. Seeta confesses that she loves Sagar, a love that Sagar reciprocates. However, Sagar, is now rendered homeless and destitute and mentions that he does not have the audacity to expect them to even be united. Ramu overhears parts of Sagar and Uma's conversation and is touched by the moment. He appeals to Sagar for him to come and live with the family. The film ends with the characters walking out in the rain, a symbolic sign of hope and renewal.
- Satindra Bhattacharya as Ramu
- Prova Debi as his mother
- Kali Banerjee as his father
- Sova Sen as his sister, Seeta
- Ketaki Dutta as Uma
- Geeta Shome as Shephali
- Ajit Banerjee as Sagar
- Keshto Mukherjee as Jatin
- Master Pintoo
- Anil Ghosh
- Umanath Bhattacharya
- Direction and Screenplay, Ritwik Ghatak
- Cinematography, Ramananda Sengupta
- Editing, Ramesh Joshi
- Sound, Satyen Chatterjee
- Narration, Ritwik Ghatak
- Music, Hariprasanna Das, Ustad Bahadur Khan
- Lyrics, Govinda Moonish
- Art Direction, Bhupen Majumdar
- Production, Film Guild
- Majh ye to majhdhar...
- Majhu pran kathin kathor...
Nagarik is considered a prototype for Ghatak's subsequent films since all of the main ingredients are present. The tone is deliberately didactic and the treatment melodramatic, elements which Ghatak in no way considered inferior to realism. The pain of the Partition is poignant among the protagonists, all refugees from East Bengal, now suffering from the loss of homeland and livelihood. This is a theme that Ghatak helped portray when working on Chinnamul, and one that would permeate most of his later creations. The film is not a study in pessimism but ends on a positive note with a speech by Ramu hoping for a new future. This has been considered overtly Marxist considering Ghatak's involvement with group theatre and the IPTA. The film is thought to be well scripted, acted, and filmed with scenes that show unique visual and aural registers. However, it is also criticized as being slow and long-drawn. Although the film shows the influence of French director Jean Renoir, it lies very much in a developing tradition of Indian film. Its film noir feel and stylised manner has something in common with contemporary works in Hindi cinema by Guru Dutt and Kamal Amrohi. It particularly shows the influence of the latter's Mahal (1949) in its use of narration, use of music, stylised direction of the acting and in several verbal echoes. It was also clearly known to Ghatak's Bengali contemporary Satyajit Ray and strongly influences his Apur Sansar (1959), the third in the Apu Trilogy. Nagarik is, therefore, a pivotal work in the history of Indian cinema.
" in stead of blind imitation of the realism, the artist here explored the inner essence of the realsitic situations. That shows the class of his artistic self."—Joshodhra Bagchi
" No matter how much flaws it has, Nagarik(Citizen) is the reflection of what profound depth an artist's love and honesty could go. If the artist's responsibility is to true to life, being responsible to time,and to guide people on their path, Ritwik's 'Nagarik' not only in 52's context, but equally acceptable in today's generation."—Somnath Mukhopadhay
" The conflict we get in the 50's star-studded so-called unreal 'social' films, was all love or family-centric; mostly stuffed by the conflicts born out of personal feeling or emotion. Material world was almost unsed safeguarded backdrop. In 'Nagarik', Ritwik bound time, soiciety and character in an organic relationship."—Someswar Bhowmick
" Gifted as he was with a historical vision Ritwik made pioneering use of sound as an instrument of structuring his film in a dialectical framework. In his hands, for the first time,, sound in Indian cinema graduated from merely amplifying dialogue and 'effect' music to becoming a conscious part of the whole design serving as much as to heighten as to comment, analyse and throw into analytical perspective the immediate dialogical and narrative context.Another innovation...in 'Nagarik'...was the device of using deep focus to place his characters firmly in their social environment."—Safder Hasmi
" Nagarik...was not so clearly the product of natural film-maker. But its story of a young man in search of a job, based on the plot of a didactic play, is by no means lacking in interest...the central character reflects the perplexity of Bimal, Ghatak's lower caste taxi-driver, and unquestionably the same feeling for individuals caught up in the toils of a fragmented society is there."—Derek Malcolm.
- Ghatak, Ritwik (2000), Rows and Rows of Fences: Ritwik Ghatak on Cinema, Ritwik Memorial & Trust Seagull Books, ISBN 81-7046-178-2.
- Hood, John (2000), The Essential Mystery: The Major Filmmakers of Indian Art Cinema, Orient Longman Limited, ISBN 81-250-1870-0.