Friday, 30 December 2011

Komal Gandhar (E-Flat) [1961]


Ritwik Ghatak was forever haunted by the Partition of 1947, and that led the maverick filmmaker to compose his magnum opus which is usually referred to as ‘Partition Trilogy’. Komal Gandhar, the title of which was borrowed from a Tagore poem, was the second edition of this famed trilogy (it was preceded by Meghe Dhaka Tara and followed by Subarnarekha). The film, which was said to be closest to the director’s heart, had strong autobiographical touches as it had as its focus two rival theatre groups belonging to the IPTA (Indian People’s Theatre Association) movement of which Ghatak too had been an active member. The principal protagonists of this layered take on trampled dreams, love, and shared passion for the stage, were Bhrigu (Abinash Bannerjee), the taciturn leader of one of the groups, and Anusuya (Supriya Choudhury), a member of the rival group who jumps ship when her attempts at bridging the two are sabotaged. The complex relationship that brews between them are juxtaposed against the dynamic kinship that exists between the group members; a bit of theatricality deliberately infused into the acting gave it an interesting touch, while dashes of humour in the script made the tragic tone even more poignant. It also boasted of a great score - I found the opening song extremely haunting. Though this remains as a rare Ghatak films to end on a seemingly happy note, its sociocultural commentary and undertones made for a challenging, albeit thoroughly engrossing, viewing. The scene where a tracking shot, from the POV of an invisible train, ends on the Indian side of River Padma, remains one of the most powerful sequences in the history of Indian cinema.








Director: Ritwik Ghatak
Genre: Drama/Social Drama
Language: Bengali
Country: India

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