Wednesday, 21 August 2013

Titash Ekti Nadir Naam (A River Called Titas) [1973]

The memories and scars of Partition and the ensuing exodus, recurred in Ritwik Ghatak’s works. Titash Ekti Nadir Naam, his penultimate film, was therefore, possibly, a homecoming of sorts for him. Qualified by many as an early instance of hyperlink cinema, predating Altman’s Nashville– the latter was, of course, a far purer kind – this adaptation of an autobiographical Bengali novel provided an epic lamentation on the ebb, flow and irreversible passage of time. The story focused on successive generations of poor fishermen folks, families and communities, with their simple joys and debilitating tragedies, living on the banks of the eponymous river in Bangladesh. The once majestic river, on which the lives and livelihoods of so many people depend, changes course and slowly starts dying, and that metaphorically provided for the story’s thematic essence. It begins with a naïve young girl (Kabari Choudhury) getting married to a fisherman (Probir Mitra); when she’s kidnapped, he goes mad in shock; she’s rescued and many years later, with a young son in tow, arrives at the same village where he resides; there, amidst hostility, finds a friend in the form of a lady (Rosy Samad) who lost her husband to the river; when she finally unites with her oblivious husband, it ends in tragedy for both; her friend takes care of her orphaned son, but familial opposition forces them to part; when the lewd advances of a Romeo from a neighboring village are spurned by her, it ends in disaster for her and her family. Violence, hypocrisy, unspoken love, financial difficulties, change and demise of customs and ways of life, across generations, were lyrically captured in this poignant and beautifully shot human drama. The emotional excesses and self-indulgence could, however, have been reined in.

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


Sam Juliano said...

Another perceptive piece that shows your superlative grasp of Bengali cinema. My own favorite Ghatek is THE CLOUD-CAPPED STAR, but this film is right up there.

Shubhajit said...

Thanks Sam. Not my favourite Ghatak either, but a quietly affecting work nonetheless.