Meghe Dhaka Tara (Ghatak, 1960)
Intro tot India (2/4): A Cloud-Capped Star

25 april 2013 · · In Beeld + Intro tot India

A Cloud-Capped Star

Hoewel Hindi- of Bollywood-cinema India’s meest prominente en lucratieve filmindustrie blijft, is er overal in het land altijd een levendige regionale cinema geweest. Helaas blijven de meeste regionale Indiase films grotendeels onbekend in het Westen. De enige die er in slaagde de nationale grenzen over te steken is Satyajit Ray. Maar Ray’s minder bekende tijdgenoot Ritwik Ghatak is een even belangrijk en invloedrijk figuur voor de Bengaalse cinema. In Meghe Dhaka Tara (A Cloud-Capped Star) drukt Ghatak het trauma en de socio-economische gevolgen van de splitsing van Bengalen uit, zonder een spoor van sentimentaliteit.

Dat doet hij via de ontberingen van zijn hoofdpersoon Nita, een jonge vrouw die zichzelf verliest in een poging haar verantwoordelijkheden ten opzichte van haar familie te verwezenlijken. Nita wordt regelmatig naar de hoek van het kader geduwd in buitenopnames, gemarginaliseerd door haar omgeving. Daarentegen zitten de binnenopnames haar claustrofobisch dicht op de huid en geven een visuele vorm aan haar verstrikking in haar familie. De binnenplaats, de ruimte tussen haar familiebanden en de buitenwereld, is intens geladen en dient als de plek waar het merendeel van haar tragische aftakeling plaatsvindt.

Ghatak is een meesterlijk visuele filmmaker maar wat hem echt uitzonderlijk maakt is zijn geluidsdesign. Ghatak gebruikt geluid om te breken met en commentaar te geven op wat er in beeld gebeurt. Het klappen van een zweep, het geluid van kokende rijst, een naderende trein – allen vallen op en doen ons als kijkers nadenken over Nita’s gemoedstoestand. Ghataks stijl dwingt de kijker tot medeplichtigheid en staat ons niet toe Nita’s laatste schreeuw van smart de rug te keren.

A Cloud-Capped Star

A Cloud-Capped Star

A Cloud-Capped Star

A Cloud-Capped Star

A Cloud-Capped Star

A Cloud-Capped Star

A Cloud-Capped Star

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A Cloud-Capped Star

A Cloud-Capped Star

A Cloud-Capped Star

A Cloud-Capped Star

A Cloud-Capped Star

A Cloud-Capped Star


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9 Reacties

  1. Camera Obscura

    Klinkt als een bijzondere film. Toevallig laatst iemand gesproken die nogal thuis was in Bengaalse cinema en die raadde me toevallig ook Ritwik Ghatak aan, een naam die ik dus helemaal niet kende… Kwam wat betreft Bengaalse cinema uit de jaren ’50 en ’60 eigenlijk nooit verder dan Satyajit Ray. Mischien maar ‘s verandering in brengen door deze te kijken.

  2. Kaj van Zoelen

    Mark Cousins is er ook groot fan van, getuige de aandacht die hij er in zijn “Story of film” aan besteed.

  3. beavis

    Ray en Ghatak zijn inderdaad de grote namen, direct gevolgd door Mani Kaul… allemaal goede vrienden van elkaar ook. Dit is de beste film die ik van Ghatak heb gezien. Ik denk vooral doordat hij hier erg effectief met het geluid omgaat, wat de review ook al vermeld. In de andere films die ik van hem zag is dat wat minder dramatisch aangezet. Toch behoren zowel Ray als Ghatak niet tot mijn favoriete soort filmmakers (Kaul moet ik mijn eerste nog van zien)… misschien dat iets meer bekendheid met de geschiedenis (de splitsing van Bengalen waarna eerst Oost-Pakistan en later Bangladesh ontstond) en de lokale cultuur een betere binding met Ghatak had kunnen geven, maar deze eerste uit een trilogie die over die splitsing gaat, is op zichzelf dus ook heel genietbaar.

  4. beavis

    Zou je afgaande op deze filmmakers Bengalen / Calcutta het “intellectuele” centrum van India moeten noemen? Of zijn er andere regionale gebieden die minstens even veel aandacht verdienen? Ben India nog steeds aan het ontdekken dus tips richting onbekende parels zijn zeer welkom!

  5. Seema

    Kaj very kindly translated these comments for me so I am able to respond. Mani Kaul actually isn’t a Bengali and made films in Hindi (same language as Bollywood films but very different in all other ways of course).
    beavis, I really hope you will try watching a Kaul one of these days. His style is really different from Ghatak and Ray… very sparse and minimalist and not melodramatic at all. Duvidha aka In Two Minds is my favorite of his films. Unfortunately I am not planning on covering him as a part of this series since my editor/translator only allowed me 4 spots and I had to pick and choose :) But I have some images on my blog that I think make a more compelling case for it than I ever could.
    http://endlesspictureshow.wordpress.com/2012/06/26/duvidha/

    West bengal / Calcutta is certainly at the forefront within India when it comes to films at least in terms of probably having the highest concentration of good films/filmmakers (beyond just Ghatak and Ray including some pretty good contemporary filmmakers). And I’m giving away a hint as to the next entry in this series when I say that Kerala/Malayalam cinema is just as interesting. Sadly, it’s even harder finding decent prints with subtitles for Malayalam cinema. John Abraham (the director not to be mistaken for the almost grotesquely muscular Bollywood actor :P ), Shaji Karun, Adoor Gopalakrishnan, G. Aravindan are perhaps the best known and most consistently good of the Malayalam filmmakers. Definitely worth checking out.

  6. beavis

    Thanks for that response!
    I might confuse Mani Kaul with Mrinal Sen, both filmmakers that I haven’t really read up on yet, but I think I remember reading somewhere that Kaul was a student of Ghatak and the most important name next to him and Ray…
    Will definetily catch up with him at some point, the stills you link to are absolutely breathtaking; the colors remind me a bit of Parajanov’s work!

    I still have lot’s to discover. I used to watch some Bollywood in the late 90’s (I liked Anjaam and Hum Dil De Chuke Sanam, disliked a few others) then more recently they started programming Bollywood at my local cinema, but after watching Krrish and Drona I gave up on that kind of commercial cinema. Sporadicly I’ve seen some movies from India at the IFFR, but that were never masterpieces in my eyes. And then there is Ray of course. I first started with the Apu trilogy, that was dissapointing (the first one is still ok, but the third cannot be called good in any way), but then later I really liked Devi, and Charulata even better. Ghatak I only started with this year, but I already saw three of his movies.

    After Mark Cousin’s famous Story of Film documentary and now you’re spotlight reviews I’ve been inspired to really get to know this part of the cinematic world. So last night we watched Awaara and in a week or so Mother India wil come along, according to all lists it is thé big movie that defines Indian cinema, so maybe the one I should have started with all along :) I also have the two Second Run DVD’s of Adoor Gopalakrishnan, so I can delve in to a bit of Malayalam cinema aswell!!

    I did a quick check on Wikipedia and there seem to be no less than 14 cinematic centers in India! I think I will stick with Bengal and Malayalam for now then, as these are not only big but also the ones you mention. I also try to stick to the parallel/art side because of the lesser experiences with the commercial work… although I hear nothing but good things about Gangs of Wasseypur….
    Looking forward to your next two spotlights!

  7. Seema

    You weren’t wrong at all. Kaul was indeed Ghatak’s student at the film insitute. All I meant to convey is that he never made films in Bengali. And I think Kaul is more noteworthy than Mrinal Sen personally. Kaul is really unique and it really depresses me how little exposure he seems to get internationally.
    I am really excited about you watching Adoor and Malayalam cinema in general. Interestingly, W. Bengal and Kerala (home of malayalam cinema) are the two states in India with the strongest socialist leanings as well.

    Have you watched any Guru Dutt, beavis? Also, I am sharing a longer list of Indian film recs that Kaj has graciously agreed to pass on to you on my behalf.

  8. beavis

    Looking forward to that list, thanks!!
    And Guru Dutt is another name I should put on my watch-list :)
    I already have a long list of things I need to see ASAP, so I can’t give to much priority to the entire Indian cinematic world that there still is to discover, but Mani Kaul and Adoor Gopalakrishnan already had a bit of my attention and they will certainly get more now

    I have strong socialist leanings myself :) so I am interested in that kind of cinema, but that said, I do not always like the style. Italian Neo-Realism that has had an influence on Ray for instance (but to be fair, it has influenced the entire global cinematic landscape at the time) is not really my thing. And I found the message and story-structure of Awaara also a bit to obvious for my liking I must say (but that was the only negative point of a very impressive and beautiful movie! :)) I have a strong feeling that the more minimalistic approach to cinema Mani Kaul has might really hit the spot for me.

  9. beavis

    Saw my first Guru Dutt movie today. Pyaasa is like the Bollywood version of a Ghatak movie. Both filmmakers also have very similar biography’s… even if their style is worlds apart. Surprisingly in this case it is Dutt’s approach that works best for me. Pyaasa is the most eloquent piece of socialist realist filmmaking I have seen so far, way more impressive than Mother India, this also makes it the best Bollywood movie I’ve seen by far! The music and lyrics are also amongst the best I’ve seen, a masterpiece.


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