The Cloud-veiled Star — A review of Meghe Dhaka Tara 2013 while still under the trance of its shine


It’s midnight. I am in my room; staring at the computer screen and browsing random stuffs in the net. But I know I am not really seeing the web pages.

The show ended at 5-25 in the afternoon. But I can still see the black and white playful shades. The darkness and the light.

I can still see him.

Meghe Dhaka Tara 2013 is a kind of a movie which can make you angry. The anger is obvious and for multiple reasons.  Anger will always burst inside the nerves of one’s brain while remembering how the only ‘People’s Artist’ never got a proper recognition in his lifetime; the one who was ignored by being tagged as “stuck-in-partition-period-guy”, “no-sophistication”, “drunk-lunatic” and towards the end “not-so-useful party member”.

This ignorance and failure of people of that time to understand this ‘Aguner Gola’(ball of fire) as the character Nilkanto Baghchi calls himself, has been shown explicitly in a masterly fashion. The society casually said “oh, he’s sick? He needs to be saved”, but they didn’t bother about his thoughts, his movies. This pseudo-sympathy will hit hard the sensible audience of this movie; will make them feel ashamed and hence the anger. Thankfully, the master didn’t always bother about that. He just gave a drunken laugh and lit up a biri.

The anger is also due to the lack of understanding regarding the potential of two persons.

One is none other than Saswata Chatterjee. From a young man who looked too old as Topsay, he has matured into one of the best actors India has ever produced. This man, who was so terribly underrated till two years back, outdid himself. He has reached out to characterize the master storyteller perfectly and has added his own acting prowess to add flavor to the protagonist Nilkanto Bagchi.

Another person is the one who ideated all these. Director Kamaleswar Mukhopadhyay. Where was he till now, doing what? Why couldn’t we see a flicker of this talent in his earlier work? Well, the good news is, from now on audience will definitely look forward to his projects. We’ll be waiting Mr. Mukhopadhyay.

The movie mesmerizes with its style of composition. Each frame is worth watching; most of the setups are theatrical and that’s what was needed to develop the surreal mood of this film. The splendid play of shadows depicted the shadowy phases of Ghatak’s life amazingly well.

The inclusion of the character of the doctor played by Abir Chattopadhyay was an excellent idea. His silent but sincere presence in the flashback of various points of Bagchi’s life is actually the depiction of us as witnesses of his days of bliss, confusion and torment.

The casting was impressive overall. The music was wonderfully appropriate. “Moder kono dash nai” is probably the best score. Felt that “Amar onge onge k bajay banshi” could have been sung by a singer with a deeper voice. Personally would have loved to have the character based on George Biswas included and also the rabindrasangeet “keno cheye achho go ma” from “Jukti Takko ar gappo” had it been there.

Ritwik Ghatak never lived a life which the society dictated. If he did, he never would have been Ritwik, would he? He never cared about what mass wanted as entertainment. But he cared about telling mass what they SHOULD see, hear, feel and understand.  Ritwik said that a great work has three basic layers. First, the anecdotes of laughter and cry of day to day life. Second, the socio-political awareness or message within this. And the innermost core is the aesthetic self-realization of the artist and its proper execution.  Following so, his own specialty was to ignore his love for movies  and using his film as his weapon in order to elevate a project to its greatness. Otherwise He would have never told us the story of the pain of rootlessness, the cruel bite of poverty, the curse of austere urban life and shattered dreams, the emotional integration of a man and a machine. He believed what Bagchi in the film shouted out loud “Amra to sobai Khyapa! Kintu sei khyapami ta beriye na ele kaj ta hobe ki kore ?” (“We are crazy, all of us! But how any great work can be done if that craziness doesn’t come out?”)

That’s why, when in the end, the traumatized Aadibashi Girl finally dances as if nothing else mattered, rising above her agony and we see the protagonist walks beside the eternal woman of Bengal, the eternal mother he always idolized of, the icon of his primordial archetype he always established,  we have a smile in our face. He has won over life. Hands down.

My vote: Meghe Dhaka Tara 2013 is the best Bengali, in fact Indian…tributary film made till date. I am putting ‘tributary’ because the movie itself accepts so and also many of the beautiful compositions are inspired by Ghatak’s works like Nagorik, Ajantrik, Bari theke Paliye, Subornorekha, Meghe Dhaka Tara  and of course Jukti Takko ar Gappo. But that DOES NOT reduce the credit of the film itself. This film is a masterly execution of the craziness of creating angry poetry with moving images, losing everything else while implementing fiery ideas and the withdrawal effect of the agony of thinking creatively.

The dialog still ringing in my ears:

Bhabnar jogote akdin-o beimani korechhi, bol?”

No, Sir. You never betrayed the Universe of Thought. Never.


One thought on “The Cloud-veiled Star — A review of Meghe Dhaka Tara 2013 while still under the trance of its shine

  1. Keno cheye acho go ma is the first time I saw Ritwik Ghatak. Was mesmerized by the angst ridden expression and the sparkling eyes on the scruffy looking man.

    He had a view different from the others. Living in the era of the Ray, he held on to his style.

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