"Thematically, Ritwik's lifelong obsession was with the tragedy of Partition. He himself hailed from what was once East Bengal where he had deep roots. It is rarely that a director dwells so single-mindedly on the same theme. It only serves to underline the depth of his feeling for the subject."
"To me it was the division of culture and I was shocked. During the Partition period I hated these pretentious people who clamoured about our independence, our freedom... I just kept on watching what was happening, how the behaviour pattern was changing due to this great betrayal of the national liberation. And I probably gave vent to what I felt. Today I am not happy, and whatever I have seen unconsciously or consciously come out in my films…"
Partition was a painful episode for the nation and the millions who lived through it. It became the lifelong obsession for many writers and painters.
Ironically, in the world of cinema, there was only one man, Ritwik Ghatak for whom Partition provided a metaphor for cultural breakup and exile and unified all his works. All his films are peppered with the pain of partition and make references, either directly or indirectly to Partition.
Ritwik considered himself an eternal refugee and so are his characters. His most popular films is the Partition trilogy Meghe Dhaka Tara (The Cloud-Capped Star) (1960), Komal Gandhar (E-Flat) (1961) and Subarnarekha (1962), set in Calcutta - but not the Calcutta of splendour, but the Calcutta of refugee camps where his characters live in the fringes of society and its mind space, eternal refugees to both.
Image: Ritwik Ghatak's Meghe Dhaka Tara (Cloud-Capped-Star)