Subscribe to our weekly newsletter

Story image

Ritwik Ghatak himself played the lead role in his last film, Jukti Takko Aar Gappo (1974). He portrayed an alcoholic intellectual, with various nervous conditions, a state for which he was notorious among students. Much loved by students but suffering difference with the establishment, he lasted at FTII for only a few years. Ghatak passed away on 6 February, 1976, at the early age of fifty, leaving many unfinished projects. Always at odds with his requisite establishment, from IPTA to FTII, his influence was more far reaching than might be expected. In Cinema of Interruptions, Lalitha Gopalan refers the kind of father figure Ghatak was to many contemporary film makers.

“Consciously setting themselves apart from commercial cinema, films by Adoor Gopalkrishnan, G. Aravindan, Mrinal Sen, Girish Kasarvalli, Kumar Shahani, and Mani Kaul focused on social and political antagonisms to narrate their tales of disappointment with the postcolonial state while also conveying hopes for a different society. Their films drew the urban elite to cinemas and shaped film-viewing habits by encouraging the audience to focus more intently on the screen. A substantial number of commercial films made in the late 1980s borrowed from these film-making practices while continuing to improve on conventions of entertainment.” 

Ghatak’s legacy has been that kind of cinema that invites the audience to focus more intently on the screen. Ghatak himself had claimed he was an artist first and a filmmaker second. He repeatedly snubbed any value of ‘entertainment’ as a filmmaking practice. In his own words:

“I do not believe in ‘entertainment’ as they say it or slogan mongering. Rather, I believe in thinking deeply of the universe, the world at large, the international situation, my country and finally my own people. I make films for them. I may be a failure. That is for the people to judge.”