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Ghatak literally reduced to the subaltern

The lament of Partha Chatterjee, the doyen of the original Subaltern Studies project, over the neglect of Ritwik Ghatak’s films at the Ritwik Ghatak Memorial Trust in the congested Chetla market in Kolkata points to the subaltern nature of Ghatak in Indian film history and indeed consciousness:

The flat resembles a ship’s cabin À la the Marx brothers. Cans of film lie on the veranda completely at the mercy of the elements. Kolkata, it must be remembered, has a trying monsoon every year.

In what can only be termed an irony he points to the subaltern position of Ghatak vis-a-vis Satyajit Ray:

In contrast, the legacy of Ghatak’s great contemporary Satyajit Ray (1921-1992) is assured of survival. Most of his films have been conserved, thanks to the vigorous efforts of Ray aficionado Dilip Basu, an academic based in Santa Cruz, California. He has lobbied various well-heeled individuals and institutions for funds to preserve the negatives and soundtracks of many of Ray’s films, along with other paraphernalia associated with the artist. Besides, the Satyajit Ray Society in Kolkata also works to perpetuate his memory. Ritwik Ghatak has had no such luck.

Chatterjee, Partha (2007) ‘Jinxed Legacy’ Frontline, Volume 24 – Issue 20 :: Oct. 06-19 URL here

2 comments

1 ravi { 10.14.07 at 9:37 am }

It is a sad state of affairs not only with regard to Ghatak’s films, but other film makers of the past in several Indian languages. I came to know about the neglect of the Tamil film prints of the past, spanning the decades from the fifties.

The country which had a prolific output during the silent era can show in the national film archive register, as available on the web, only less than a dozen films, and that too mostly in Hindi. I think the need of the hour is to go in for state level and district level attempts to save the film heritage in differnt parts of the country. The need of the hour is to impress upon our state governments the need to start state film archives.

2 Devdutt Trivedi { 10.15.07 at 3:08 am }

The same can be said of the very great director Mani Kaul.And his films are more recent too.What about writing to mpfdc for Satah se uthata aadmi.
Please respond Mr Budha

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