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Amrit Gangar's The Close-up katha: Ritwik Ravivar 24

Updated: Oct 22, 2023

Filmmaker Amos Gitai called a close-up an ‘exclamation mark’ in cinematography. “But you don’t want exclamation marks all over the place.” (‘The Films of Amos Gitai: A Montage’, Paul Willemen, British Film Institute, London, 1993) Gitai would have found the extraordinary placement of all forms of ‘interjections’ (close-ups) in Ritwik Ghatak’s films. The little Binu’s close-up here is a scream, a desperate cry for Mother, mother Sita who had killed herself in a brothel visited by his own brother, Ishwar. Earlier, poor Binu’s father was killed by a violent mob on the road because the bus he was driving had fatally hit a girl. Haraprasad has taken Binu to Ishwar’s house, as ironically Ishwar was the only relative left behind, the ‘killer’ uncle. When little Binu looks at him facing a press-reporter, he is shocked. He cries ‘Mother’ who had killed herself tragically because of his drunken ‘uncle’. Ghatak’s close-up of Binu’s face towards the end of ‘Subarnarekha’ that he had created like a chronicle, would shatter us. But it is same child who pulls his ‘uncle’ out of his terrible moral morass, asking him to move on, Charaiveti! Charaiveti!


“Whenever I hear of decadence, my whole being is filled with reulsion. These faces do not reflect decadence.

“The film and my previous writings have created an impression among some of my audiences that I have tried to advocate ‘pessimism’ and ‘degeneration’. Frankly, I do not understand this thing about ‘degeneration’. I never thought of speaking for or advocating ‘degeneration’. What I have felt and tried and tried to say is about turmoil in contemporary Bengal. This turmoil has assumed the proportions of a monster today, in the film, during the period 1948-62, I have tried to give a picture of this. The first victim of this turmoil is our sensibility. I tried to hit at this loss of sensibility.

“Rabindranath Tagore’s (poem) ‘Sishu Tirtha’ (Child Pilgrimage) had influenced me deeply while making this film. That was not a matter of adding just two lines at the end, but it is strewn throughout the film in snatches of dialogue. In the use of music, in the arrangement of some sequences. ‘Sishu Tirtha’ does play a role and that is why the last three lines are important. They do not belong to pessimism, nor degeneration.

“I would like to point out the shlokas from the ‘Vedas’ and ‘Upanishads’. I had chosen those few after exhaustive selections. Each of them possesses deep meanings and they have greatly helped my expression.” (Originally from ‘Chitrabikshan, 1976, published in ‘Cinema & I’, a Dhyanbindu and Ritwik Memorial Trust’s joint venture, Kolkata, New Revised Edition, November 2015)

“Some critics have tried to find a logical sequence in ‘Meghe Dhaka Tara’, ‘Komal Gandhar’ and ‘Subarnarekha’ and thought that form a trilogy. But that is a mistake. I had expressed exactly as I had been feeling them. There is absolutely no sequential relation in that.” (Originally published in ‘Abhinay’, May 1970. Interviewed by Ajoy Basu. Translaed by Dr. Chilka Ghosh. Ibid)

Direction & Screenplay (based on a story by Radheshyam Jhunjhunwala); Ritwik Ghatak. Cineamatograpy: Dilipranjan Mukherjee. Editing: Ramesh Joshi. Sound: Satyen Chatterjee, Shyamsundar Ghosh, Jyoti Chatterjee. Music: Ustad Bahadur Khan. Playback: Arati Mukherjee, Ramen Roy Choudhury. Art Direction: Rabi Chatterjee, Production: J.J. Films Corporation.

Binu, Sita’s son: Ashok Bhattacharya.

Premiere: 1 October 1965 at Basushree, Bina and Lotus, Calcutta.

Amrit Gangar is a umbai based film scholar, writer, curator & historian

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