Journal of Arts & Ideas, no. 3 (April-June 1983) p. 51.


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'A Statement of Bias'

Jasodhara Bagchi

Ritwik Ghatak : A Return to the Epic

Ashish Rajadhyaksha

Screen Unit, Bombay, 1983, 148 pp., Rs 45.

HIS SLIM volume has fulfilled a long standing need for a serious and sensitive evaluation of the artistry of Ritwik Ghatak's films. Undoubtedly one of the most outstanding artists of India in recent times, Ritwik Ghatak has, unfortunately, remained an esoteric name, a caviare to the general. Ritwik himself has expressed obvious pleasure on being called, on a certain occasion, a "people's artist'. How does one resolve this basic ambivalence in the position of Ritwik Ghatak as an artist? The book will go some way in answering this question.

Ritwik Ghatak's life as an artist represents one of the classic instances of the dilemma of an artist in a Third Wojrld situation. He shares with Satyajit Ray the distinction of launching the new Indian Cinema in the early fifties. Despite its long and, one supposes, agonizing gestation, Satyajit Ray's Father Panchali did reach out to the larger world of audience and succeeded in creating a new language in Indian cinema. Thus was born a cinema that was going to fight the main channel of the commercial Indian cinema which proliferated with the usual logic of the underdevelopment of Indian society.

Nagarik which by its own right should have initiated yet another authentic tradition of film making for honest filmmakers who would want to get out of the trap of commercial films, did not see the light of day. This initial blackout hounded Ritwik right through his spectacular career, when with hardly any box-office success to give him either


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