Review: Meghe Dhaka Tara (2013)

Meghe Dhaka Tara (2013) (Dir.: Kamaleswar Mukherjee; Cast: Saswata Chatterjee, Ananya Chatterjee, Abir Chatterjee et al.)

Meghe Dhaka Tara is a fitting tribute to the great Ritwik Ghatak from Kamaleswar Mukherjee. In style, in substance, in form and even in its stark duo-tone, this new Meghe Dhaka Tara is a throwback to the great director’s universe.

In style, in substance, in form and even in its stark duo-tone, this new Meghe Dhaka Tara is a throwback to the great director’s universe

Kamaleswar explores Ritwik Ghatak through a fictional character, Nilkantha Bagchi, who is Ritwik’s alter-ego in this film. Meghe Dhaka Tara explores Ritwik’s thoughts, his wishes, goals and frustration, his tremendous relationship with his wife (played by Ananya Chatterjee) mostly in flashbacks through his dreams, thoughts and visions. The visuals of these flashbacks are hence an overlap across time and space and some of these sequences are very much among the high points in the film. There are adaptations from incidences in his films and his actors, assembled in a collage put together with care to tell Ritwik’s story. I have watched only two of Ritwik’s films (the original Meghe Dhaka Tara and Subarnarekha) in their entirety till now (and hence admit sadly to being as guilty as most in being among the villains in Ritwik’s story!) and hence wasn’t fully able to relate to all the sequences. However, it must be said that the way Kamaleswar interpreted and borrowed from these films proved his deep love and respect for his subject.

As I said, the interweaving of characters, incidents and images in the dream/ dream-like sequences is certainly a wonderful aspect of this film. The juxtaposition of the Fifth Symphony in the scenes of Nilkantha’s shock treatment, which somehow reminded me of Kubrick’s The Clockwork Orange, was another stunning piece of film-making. The screenplay was measured too, while handing out Nilkantha a few lines which are bound to be etched in memories.

Saswata Chatterjee, in a powerful performance, is Nilkantha Bagchi. A brilliant performance from him only leaves one hungry for more such acts from him. As for Ananya, I don’t know if her casting was in any manner influenced by her acting in a period drama on TV, but her looks and mannerisms fit in absolutely snugly with her character here and she plays Nilkantha’s supportive wife endearingly. The music, like the look of the film, is inspired by Ritwik Ghatak, and adds superbly to the storytelling, from the beginning till the very end.

It is perhaps only in the optimistically tilted climax that Kamaleswar conforms, in what is an otherwise tremendous tribute to one of Bengal’s greatest directors. Hopefully, it will arouse a new wave of interest in the life and works of Ritwik Ghatak. It has certainly done the trick for me.

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