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It is almost three decades since i saw the unforgettable film "Jukti Tako Aar Gappo". i saw it with subtitles since i do not know Bengali. It was being screened in a city that i lived and studied at that time. i saw the film four times, and i even knew many of the lines of the characters! The film is a journey. It is a journey of discovery for Neelkanta, the poet and two others who join him in his journey. The young man and woman. Together they traverse the countryside in Bengal.
The character Neelkanta is played by Ghatak himself. And how unforgettable is the man as "himself" in the film! And he does not forget to shoot down his great rival Satyajit Ray by presenting "Shatrujit Basu" (Utpal Dutt)whom he carefully presents almost in appearance, as Ray himself! Neelkanta accuses Shatrujit of short- changing the "cause" for fame and recognition.
The most interesting relationship is between the young lady whom Neelkanta calls "Bangabala" (girl- child of Bengal)and the young man who joins the journey. They perhaps a younger generation. Ghatak's films carry the separation theme. The river (Subarnarekha) that is symbolic of that separation; the agony of partition. The indescribable pain of a little boy whose parents happened to be on the wrong side of the river.
The river flows. Like Neelkanta's journey of discovery. He finally discovers the emerging spirit of Bengal in the forest surrounding his home in the village. He is at peace in the company of those youth who are waging a losing war against the status quo. He enters into arguments with all these characters. He goes to the forest to meet the youth fighting the police. Before going, he tells his wife to send his little son to see him the next morning early, at sunrise. "I want to see your face in against the rising sun," he says.
And he emerges from the forest in the morning, only to be shot down by the police.
i call this the most poignant film from an Indian film maker. The poetry of Death Vision. That is what it is.
And it has the intense, painful signature of Ghatak films: personal touch.
As i watched the film, i wept for Ghatak. Even today, after thirty years, i still weep. It is a pity that India never understood a genius.
Everything about this film is special: even the characters' names. Neelkanta is a synonym for God Siva. He is called Neelkanta because he has a blue patch on his neck (throat, actually). That was caused by the poison he volunteered to drink in order to save the universe from destruction (during the mythical churning of the "Ocean of Milk").
See the connection now? Neelkanta says, lifting the bottle to his lips, "This is nectar!"
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