Subarnarekha (1965) Poster


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A masterpiece of world cinema
meitschi22 February 2002
I've seen this film recently at the Ritwik Ghatak retrospective in the Vienna Filmmuseum in February 2002. I only can say: a masterpiece. A real discovery.

After having seen this extraordinary film, I can't understand why Ghatak's genius was hardly appreciated in his lifetime, why it had to take so long to rediscover him as one of the most amazing film directors of the 20th century.

The beautiful and heart-wrenching story tells about a family of Hindu refugees from East Pakistan (now Bangladesh) who struggle to find a new home in West Bengal. Ishwar Chakravorty gets a job near the river Subarnarekha and goes there with his little sister Shita and Abhiram, a low-caste young boy from the refugee camp he has adopted after the boy's mother had been abducted. They hope to find happiness in this new environment, but when Abhiram comes home after his school years and wants to marry Shita (who is also in love with him), tragic conflicts emerge that shatter the lives of all main characters.

The impressive direction with unorthodox usage of sound and music and expressionistic camera angles, the beautiful photography (notably in Ishwar's "breakdown scene"), and the great performances especially by the amazing Abhi Bhattacharya and Madhabi Mukherjee (though there is also some rather bad acting by some supporting actors, but this is only a minor drawback to the film) all add to the great impression of this wonderful picture. An absolute must-see!
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merritt101919 January 2008
I've seen two of Ghatak's films, this and "Cloud-Capped Star". Ghatak creates a distinct and poignant mood of tragedy that is not entirely without redemption or promise. He also puts music to powerful effect; here the lead (Sita) sings so beautifully and sadly it will break your heart. The film has elements of a fairy tale - - I am thinking particularly of the way in which fateful forces separate and then reunite the long-lost characters. Ghatak handles the story in such a way that such elements feel entirely natural.

I cannot figure out why Ghatak is relatively unknown in the United States. He's at least as good as Ray. Both, though, are underrepresented, and their films are pitifully hard to find.

I thought this was one of the best films I've seen.
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Searing tragedy, inspired cinema
mojust11 January 2005
Warning: Spoilers
It's criminal that this masterpiece isn't better known. Ritwik Ghatak is a fascinating director, haunted by the trauma of the Partition, the arbitrary line the British drew across northern India to mark the border with Pakistan. He is a far more political and provocative artist than Satyajit Ray.

Subarna Rekha – Golden River – is an angry, tragic film about displaced Bengali refugees. Ishwar Chakraborty IAbhi Bhattacharya) is a middle class educated man who leaps at the first chance to get out of the colony when an old friend offers him a post in a provincial factory. This will afford him the security to bring up his younger sister and an orphan boy for whom feels responsible.

Years pass, and the boy – now an aspiring writer – and girl fall in love. Their older brother is horrified. The boy is lower caste, and this will undo his professional standing. No spoilers here, but the last act of this almost Shakespearean drama is absolutely unforgettable, and if you get the chance to see it, grab it.

I was reminded of Shakespearean tragedy, but also of nineteenth century novels by Balzac and Dostoievsky. Yet the film-making is expressionist and remarkably modern… the way that Ghatak amplifies and distorts sound, the way he exploits and subverts the conventions of song in popular Indian cinema, and his bold but sparing use of point of view shots and close ups… I am not in the habit of awarding perfect tens, but this is one of the greatest films I have ever seen.
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Ritwik Ghatak's great work should get 9/10
nag-saptarshi9 May 2014
I watched this film at my college days.I saw it twice.But still I have not lost my appetite to watch it again.

This film features post-independent state of Bengal.

This film contradicted many old ideas like 'Nachiketa','Upanishad' and pioneered a new era after partition of Bengal.

The river Subarnarekha and a beautiful home (surrounded by birds,music) on the bank of the river symbolizes the happiness,joy of the homeless people who has come from the East Pakistan.

The director shows here that continuous rioting,communality,partition have killed Bengali classic culture,pride etc.

The background music applied is just awesome by Ustad Bahadur Khan and good singing by Arati Mukherjee.

The application and implication of the Rabindra song "Aj Dhaner Khete" implies the director's great sense.

No doubt it should be taken as one of the best movies ever made in India.

This great work by Ritwik Ghatak should get many awards but got nothing.

I think this was the next master work after 'Meghe Dhaka Tara' by Ritwik Ghatak.
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A Brainstormer
kuldeep-saha30 September 2013
"Subarnarekha" means "Streak of Gold". Even for a layman like me this critically acclaimed film had brought along a golden treasure, in a sense that it makes a mind think about the duality of fiction and fact; of dream and void; and of course of the dilemma about truth and beauty in life. The film showcases outstanding acting performances,featuring some of the most brilliant actors/actresses(Abhi Bhattyacharya,Bijan Bhattacharya,Madhabi Mukhopadhyay)of our age. To me the greatest moment of this film appears when at the riverbank (subarnarekha) Sita's little son eventually asks his uncle Iswar the same questions which his mother had asked years ago when Iswar along with little Sita, had first come to Subarnarekha to settle for a job. The questions,wrapped with childish imaginations, were about their "new home", Iswar,who did not believe in telling fictions("lies" to Iswar) to amuse a child, when confronted with the same questions from Sita's son,stares at him, remaining baffled and speechless. He loses himself in a trans,perhaps in search of an answer, and finally protects the child's fantasies by giving an affirmative answer this time.
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Subarnarekha (The Golden Thread / Golden River)
jboothmillard5 August 2017
Warning: Spoilers
I found this film listed in the book 1001 Movies You Must See Before You Die, and I read elsewhere that it is considered one of the greatest films in Asian cinema, so I hoped it would be worthwhile, directed by Ritwik Ghatak (The Cloud-Capped Star). Basically set in East Pakistan, after the 1947 partition of India, it tells the story of Hindu refugee Ishwar Chakraborty (Abhi Bhattacharya). He tries to start a new life, with his little sister Sita (Indrani Chakrabarty), they see the abduction of a low-caste woman in a refugee camp, Ishwar takes her little son Abhiram (Sriman Tarun) with him. Ishwar gets a job at a factory in the province, near the river Subarnarekha, when Abhiram (Satindra Bhattacharya) has grown up and completed his studies, he is asked to go the Germany. Abhiram and Sita (Madhabi Mukherjee) have grown up together, they find themselves falling in love, but Ishwar's fear of prejudice emerges, he does not want his sister, a Brahmin, to marry a lower caste boy. Sita gets married to another man, Ishwar is angry and heartbroken when during Sita's wedding she and Abhiram run off and go to Calcutta. Abhiram and Sita live in the slums of Calcutta and try to make ends meet, they have a little son (Sriman Ashok Bhattacharya), one day Abhiram gets a job as a bus driver. But this leads to tragedy when he accidentally hits and kills a little girl, he is lynched by a crowd, and in desperation Sita is forced into thinking about prostitution. Meanwhile, Ishwar is living a sad and lonely life in the province, his old time friend Haraprasad (Bijon Bhattacharya) comes to visit him, and they decide to travel to Calcutta on a binge drinking tour. The two friends end up together completely drunk in a brothel, Ishwar staggers into one of the bedchambers, and he is shocked to be faced with his own sister, he would be her first "client". Sita immediately recognises him and, rather than submit to incest, shockingly slits her own throat, killing herself, Ishwar realises what has happened and breaks down. In the end, Ishwar meets Sita's little son, he is now his closest relative, he brightens up and decides to take the boy home with him. Also starring Bijon Bhattacharya as Haraprasad, Shriman Tarun as Young Abhiram and Gita Dey as Koushalya, Abhiram's mother. I will be completely honest and say that I had really pay attention to subtitles, as the black and white picture often hid the words, with the white, this made it a struggle to understand everything going on, but I just about got the gist, it was a fairly interesting drama. Worth watching!
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The golden genius of Ritwik Ghatak
avik-kumar-si14 October 2013
Warning: Spoilers
Ritwik Ghatak's Subarnarekha is a tale of a refugee family in the aftermath of the partition of Bengal. Subarnarekha tracks the lives of a man, his child sister and a young boy whom the man provided shelter after the boy loses his mother in a mêlée.

The film begins in a refugee camp of the then Calcutta, where a number of refugees have gathered in the hope of building their homes anew. We witness how the pangs of poverty and homelessness metamorphoses an individual's attitude towards life and his decisions throughout his life. Subarnarekha is a tale of hopelessness at most times. Ritwik Ghatak portrays the plight of the three characters, their hardships and its ensuing effects on their thoughts, actions and the very paths they tread in their lives. The mood is often one of darkness and despair as Ritwik chooses not to offer any artificial sugary balm for the viewer in his tale of stark, heartrending reality.

As is Ritwik Ghatak's trademark, Subarnarekha is a film of tremendous strength, that bombards the mind and stings the senses, leaving behind a gash in its wake.
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