Tuesday, 10 April 2012

Jukti Takko Aar Gappo [1974]

The last film of the perennially misunderstood and mercurial genius Ritwik Ghatak (he made only 8 feature films in his life), Jukti Takko Aar Gappo was a complex and fascinating synthesis of the various themes, ideas, obsessions and stylistic preferences that marked his life and work – thus making this deeply autobiographical film a definitive crystallization of all that he stood for and believed in. Not one to shy away from his personal demons, Ghatak himself played the role of the central protagonist Nilkantha Bagchi, an alcoholic, disillusioned and washed out intellectual who, upon being left by his wife and young son, has now become a happily destitute vagabond. Giving him company are his young protégé and a young refugee girl (Shaonli Mitra). Over the course of his journey he meets an assortment of unique people – a former contemporary (played by Utpal Dutt) who has made it big unlike him (an underhanded reference to his legendary rival Satyajit Ray), a penniless Sanskrit teacher (Bijon Bhattacharya) who joins him in his journey through rural Bengal, a poor village handloom worker (Jnanesh Mukherjee) forever reminiscing about loss of old traditions, and a young and fearless Naxal rebel (militant Leftist). The film abounds in the various themes and ideologies that regularly recurred in his films – undivided Bengal and the horrors of Partition, Leftism and politics, homelessness and familial alienation, fascination with Tagore’s music, and vanishing rural traditions, all presented through his unique melodramatic style filled in equal measures with poignancy and darkly humorous content. No one but Ghatak could have played the role of Nilkantha, a stand-in for Ghatak himself, with terrific supporting turns provided by Bhattacharya and Mukherjee.

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


Damon said...

We showed Cloud Capped Star at our Cinema society recently and really enjoyed it! Very keen to see more films by this guy and Indian film in general.

Shubhajit said...

Ritwik Ghatak remains one of the greatest Indian filmmakers. However his films were so rooted in a particular sociopolitical milieu that some effort on the part of the viewers is generally called for to fully appreciate his works. Meghe Dhaka Tara (Cloud Capped Star) does remain as his most famous, and also possibly his greatest work, but do also look out for his other films like Subarnarekha (The Golden Thread), Komal Gandhar (E-Flat), Ajantrik (Pathetic Fallacy/The Unmechanical) and this one, i.e. Jukti Takko Aar Gappo.