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Amrit Gangar’s The Close-up Katha: Ritwik Ravivar 28

Updated: Nov 20, 2023


Image: Screenshots from the film + collage by AG.


You might have wondered to see the credit titles and sketches from Ritwik Ghatak’s film ‘Bari Theke Paliye’ (Running Away from Home, 1969). Through these sketches, Ghatak, not only weaves the film’s narrative within them so playfully but perhaps we can see the invisible lens fixed behind the retinas of his eyes. Or else, how could he create a cinematographic ‘leela’ of close-ups and long shots, even the top-angle shots of the city traffic? Besides the traffic police in my  this Ritwik Robibarer Close-up Katha, he also pulls closer the images of a gentleman at a dining table and a mustachio! He himself must have visualized these sketches alongside the credits. ‘Bari Theke Paliye’ provides us a study of how playfully and simply credit titles can be imagined and executed to poeticize the story of the film that follows. They create their own spaces and temporalities. In a hindsight, comes to my mind, the French poet Stéphane Mallarmé the French poet Stéphane Mallarmé who created his own typographical proximities and phonetic volumes. Ritwik da had an inner eye of the poet who even brings in the pain of Partition in this soulful singing film!

 

THROUGH CREDIT TITLE SKETCHES, GHATAK CREATES SPATIAL PROXIMITIES AS IF HE HAD 18mm LENS BEHIND HIS RETINA.

 

The film ‘Bari Theke Paliye’ makes us see the world of the city through an 18mm lens that Ritwik Ghatak was fond of. He choreographs proximities that play before our eyes, in a rhythm, he had internalized. Like Comrade Mallarme (‘Comrade Mallarme’ is the title of Jean-Francois Hamel’s book, 2014, of the poet’s political lectures), Ghatak has also mastered interdisciplinary streams.


Mallarmé envied music’s mysterious signs and proposed the exploitation of certain compositional techniques, especially those of rhythm, surprise, and emotive movement. (‘The Framework for Mallarme: The Photo and the Graphic of an Interdisciplinary Aesthetic’, Gayle Zachmann, 2008) Mallarmé’s texts often compared the “nature of the impression” that precedes synthetic thought to light’s action on the retina, to its action on darkness, and to the movement of the symphony. Resonances from Ritwik Ghatak’s films reverberate around the chamber of the sky, of ether, of आकाश.

 

We wish Ghatak had all the requisite resources to make more films for children, full of curiosities and questions, songs sung in the cacophony of the city. He would have turned the quotidian into a wondrous quest while setting the eight-year-old Kanchan in the unknown realms of wonderings.

 

 

The fairy tales he had heard from his mother back home come to life, with the fairy princess and the innocent boy in the clutches of the demon. There is a whiff of romance even, when he gate-crashes into a wedding party, and meets Mini, with whom he falls madly in love, and dreams of carrying her off to his mother as his bride! But the glimpses of reality are harsher – and the victims he meets, Chandan’s mother, a refugee from the partition of the country in 1947, and Haridas, the schoolteacher turned peddler, give him a different view of the city. He finds affection from Mini’s ailing mother and from the poor worker who feeds him.  

 

Running away from home into the city of Calcutta fills up little boy Kanchan’s bag with plenty of experiences. He returns home to his father with more compassion and love, to his mother, awaiting to narrate more fairy tales to Kanchan, whose mind is now wearing new conscience, less fall more fantastic! Through the credit title sketches Ritwik Ghatak creates all cinematographic proximities called Close-ups and we create Katha around them.

 

Bari Theke Paliye was first released (premiered) on 24 July 1959 at Minar, Bijoli, Chhabighar in Calcutta.

 

Direction and Screenplay (from a story by Shibram Chakraborty), Ritwik Ghatak; Cinematography: Dinen Gupta; Editing: Ramesh Joshi; Sound: Mrinal Guha Thakurta and Satyen Chatterjee; Lyrics and Music: Salil Choudhury; Playback: Hemanta Mukherjee, Shyamal Mitra,  Sabita Banerjee; Art Direction: Rabi Chatterjee; Production: L.B. Films International.

 

Kanchan (Param Bhattarak Lahiri), Jnanesh Mukherjee (his father); Padma Devi (his mother); Kali Banerjee (Haridas); Kesto Mukherjee (the magician); Jahar Roy (the traffic policeman – seen in the sketch too), and others.

 


 















 Amrit Gangar is a Mumbai based film scholar, writer & historian.

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