Journal of Arts & Ideas, no. 3 (April-June 1983) p. 43.


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Myth and Ritual:

Ghatak's Meghe Dhaka Tara

Ira Bhaskar

ROM TIME immemorial man has grappled with his unconscious and attempted to apprehend it at various levels. In the process, certain archetypes have been projected from the recesses of his collective unconscious. These are peculiar to different civilizations, but a recurring one is that of the Mother Goddess. The process of birth and the sustenance of life must have fascinated and intrigued primitive man, who sought a simplistic comprehension of it. His bewilderment at the cycle of birth, death and regeneration was externalized in the creation of the archetype of the Mother Goddess. In this simplistic resolution he had touched upon a profound universal. The mythic process of externalizing and makin^ abstract primordial rhythms had begun.

This process in its cyclical pattern moved from abstraction to concretization through rituals. A renewal of faith and an obeisance to the unknown, the ritual literalized the 'supranormaP qualities that the mythic figure had been consecrated with. Having brought the abstraction to a comprehensible level, ritual made possible a living experience of myth. This archetypal reaction contains within it the seed of all artistic expression. Thus, myth and ritual lie at the very root of art.

Within the cinematic medium, few artists have been as sensitive to these underlying structures as Ritwik Ghatak (1925-76). 'Comparative mythology illustrates certain fundamentals of art. . . for example, the archetypes. The social, collective unconscious was present even before


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