Reading Ritwik Ghatak’s Partition Trilogy

with Debkamal Ganguly
On 10th & 11th; 17th & 18th September 2022;
14:30 to 18:30 IST;

Emergences of India’s journey as independent nation-state for three quarters of a century is an apt moment to look back to the early years of independence in South Asia, an era marked by optimism and scarred by the great human disasters, Partition of India. One of the most significant artistic voices probing into this human tragedy is Ritwik Ghatak, himself a victim of Partition. Ghatak’s most significant achievements in cinema, his Partition Trilogy — Meghe Dhaka Tara (The Cloud-Capped Star), 1960, Komalgandhar (E-Flat) 1961, Subarna Rekha (The Golden Thread) 1962, were conceived more in a way to be perceived as universal signatures of forced migrations and yearning for the lost ancestral land, rather than to be confined in documenting the usual events and violence embedded in the overtly known and disseminated historical facts of Partition. More than the reinforcement of victimhood for the individuals and families affected by Partition, Ghatak brings forth the importance of certain key situations of choices, those of taking responsibility towards memory, passion, empathy and morality. To actualize these unusual visions, Ghatak invents a unique cinematic language by creating ruptured layers within spaces and reintegrating them within the amorphous and immersive temporalities of self-configured signs of rituals (often released as series of overlapping fragments of songs and music) and Jungian archetypes. Whether the historical event of Partition was also an opportunity for Ghatak? Within the ruins and debris of humanity, for him, was there a possibility of reconstruction of new definitions of kinship bonds, newly felt warmth among blood ties, where an individual can dwell simultaneously into the modernist self-scrutinizing idea of the self, and, the epic sensibility, the sense of sublime to realize oneself to be human?

Debkamal Ganguly will read Ghatak’s Partition Trilogy coming two weekend 10th & 11th and 17th & 18th September_Online as a part of a month long course on Ghatak’s Cinema of Rupture & Epic Imagination.

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