Tuesday, 7 February 2012
Meghe Dhaka Tara (The Cloud-Capped Star) 
Meghe Dhaka Tara, the first in Ritwik Ghatak’s “Partition Trilogy” which also comprised of Komal Gandhar and Subarnarekha, is considered the greatest masterpiece of the mercurial genius, and remains a seminal achievement in the history of Indian cinema. Ghatak took the otherwise pejorative melodramatic tradition of Indian cinema to stratospheric heights with this heartbreaking examination of the socio-political repercussions of partition, as he did with the other two films belonging to this landmark trilogy of his. The film’s central character is Neeta (a stellar performance by Supriya Chowdhury), the sole breadwinner of her impoverished refugee family. All those around her – her irascible mother, her hedonistic sister, her younger brother, and her spineless fiancé – are classic examples of self-centeredness and opportunism; yet Neeta silently cares for them with all her heart despite the enormous grief she suffers in the process. Only her erudite father and her elder brother Shankar (Anil Chatterjee), who aspires to be a classical singer, reciprocate her love and appreciate her sacrifice; unfortunately, they are either too weak or too preoccupied to really stand up for her. Music, as in all his films, plays a huge role here too in terms of emphasizing its downbeat mood and strangely liberating tone. It in fact boasts of one of the most incredible uses of Tagore’s song where whiplashes are used to stress upon, with devastating effect, Neeta’s inner turmoil and crushing grief. The scene where Neeta finally screams out to Shankar, now an established maestro, that she wants to live (“Dada ami banchte chai”), is not just powerful and debilitating, but transcendental too. The film ends with a darkly ironic depiction of the sad but inherent cyclicity of life.
Director: Ritwik Ghatak
Genre: Drama/Family Drama/Social Drama