The Cloud-Capped Star (1960) | Meghe Dhaka Tara | BFI India on Film
Dir/Writer: Ritwik Ghatak | Cast: Sudiya Choudhury, Nirinjan Ray, Anil Chatterjee, Gyanesh Mukherjee, Bijon Bhattacharya, Gita Dey | 126′ | India | Drama
Ritwik Ghatak is sometimes overlooked in contrast to his Bengali compatriot Satyajit Ray. THE CLOUD-CAPPED STAR is the first part of his trilogy E Flat and Subarnarekha offering an emotional and deeply personal account of post partition poverty in 1950s Calcutta, East Bengal. Sublime in its poignant sadness flecked with occasional dark humour it is a visual masterpiece of chiaroscuro splendour set amid abject suffering of a gentle woman whose continuous acts of sacrifice show that the meek and selfless do not always inherit the earth. Quite the reverse.
The gripping linear narrative enlivening by enjoyable musical interludes centres on Nita (Choudhury) the talented eldest daughter in a cultured Hindu refugee family who puts all her efforts and hard-earned cash into the dreams of her three younger more self-seeking siblings. Falling for a promising but ultimately specious young scientist (Sanat/Nirinjan Ray), her dreams are shattered as her world slowly unravels when Sanat proves to be unfaithful and spineless and her father – the voice of reason and wisdom – suffers a serious accident leaving him bedridden. Richly thematic, this satirical melodrama offers insight into Indian society showing how women are the family underdogs despite their intelligence, perspicacity and perseverance. Ghatak’s inventive use of poetic realism and his convincing characterisations and impressionist interweaving of sound, image and mood convey a palpable feeling for Bengal and its artistic traditions. MT
SCREENING DURING THE BFI’S INDIA ON FILM SEASON | SUMMER 2017