Friday, December 18, 2009
Ritwik Kumar Ghatak, the Bengali master filmmaker was born in Dhaka on November 4, 1925 and stayed in Rajshahi for several years. He and his family moved to Calcutta (now Kolkata) in West Bengal in the 1940s. Partition (1947) had a major impact on Ghatak and is a recurring subject in his works.
Ghatak's films are now celebrated in India and beyond. His stature among Bengali film directors is comparable to that of Satyajit Ray and Mrinal Sen. Nevertheless, he is rarely remembered ceremonially in Bangladesh.
Starting from yesterday, Rajshahi Film Society has begun a three-day Ritwik Ghatak Film Festival at Rajshahi Homeopathic Medical College and Hospital at Ghoramara. Ghatak used to stay in the house that was later turned into the medical college.
"Our aim is to celebrate the life and works of Ghatak who maintained a bond between Bangladesh and West Bengal," said Dr FMA Zahid, convenor of the film society.
Eminent litterateur Hasan Azizul Haque formally inaugurated the festival on Thursday while Dr. AFM Zahid chaired the opening ceremony.
Rina Chakrawarty and Aroma Dutta -- nieces of Ritwik Kumar Ghatak -- were present on the occasion, which drew a huge audience.
Aroma said that Ghatak was greatly upset for having to leave Bangladesh (then East Bengal) during the Partition and that he was proud of his roots.
Lawmaker Fazle Hossain Badsha attended the event as chief guest while among others Fazlul Haque, Monish Rafik, two French researchers -- Sandra Alvarez and Anais Nasson -- spoke on Ghatak's life and works.
"There is hardly any Bengali movie enthusiast who does not know Ghatak, but only a few know that he was born and raised here," he added.
The festival will show eight full-length films by Ghatak -- "Nagarik", "Ajantrik", "Bari Theke Paliye", "Meghe Dhaka Tara", "Komal Gandhar", "Subarnarekha", "Titash Ekti Nadir Naam" and "Jukti Takko Aar Gappo".
The organisers hope that the festival is likely to draw a number of movie enthusiasts from across the country.
After Bangladesh's independence, Ghatak came to Dhaka with Satyajit Roy in 1972, just four years before his death on February 6, 1976. He then recalled his childhood in Dhaka and most of his youth in Rajshahi.
To Ghatak, the primary objective of filmmaking was humanity.
"Once we went to a char (shoal) on the Padma river in Rajshahi. Ritwik took some food that we thought was for us. But he gave away the food to people living in a small hut. He did not tell us who they were and why he gave them food, but we found out that he used to give them food regularly," wrote Pratiti Devi, Ghatak's sister, about his compassionate nature.
Ghatak came across the famous Sarat Chandra Chattopadhyay, Tara Sankar Bandyopadhyay, Probodh Kumar Sanyal, Humayun Kabir and Syed Mujtaba Ali as they were close to his father and brothers, and visited their house in Rajshahi.