Posted at 11.27.2018
Realism and Modernity are two words closely associated with Bengali theatre. A number of the greatest and being among the most popular filmmakers of Bengal required realist genre of motion pictures to a fresh height, alongside reflecting modernist ideas. Realism and modernity go hand-in-hand in Bengali videos, especially in the work of greats like Satyajit Ray and Ritwik Ghatak.
Although defining 'modernity' would mean at least some more pages, with regard to this essay, we would deduct it down to merely social, politics and imaginative modernization. Satyajit Ray's magnum opus 'Pather Pancheli' is one of the greatest types of realist motion pictures portraying various components of 'modernity'. Influenced by Italian neo-realism (especially Vittorio De Sicca's Bi-cycle Thief, 1948), Ray created his first film and a masterpiece reflecting the advancement and public change in Bengal and a modernization of ideas and ideas.
In Pather Panchali, Ray discusses giving old ideas behind and moving on. He talks about how as time passes, old means of living, ancestral ideas and traditional lifestyle has become stale and needs to be improved. Apu, with his family, leaves his home and village at the end because the ancestral house kept them back of. They shifted to find a much better approach to life. They moved to get rid of the old house which couldn't help them at all, but instead got their daughter's life.
This entire film is a changeover from pre-modern to a modern way of living. Ray distributes several metaphors throughout the film - metaphors of modernity and need for change. One important persona which offered as a metaphor for me was that of the old aunt. She's old, exhausted and just wanders throughout the house doing nothing. She's often advised to go indicating she's not sought inside your home. The family is fed up of her in the same way they're fed up of customs and the same lifestyle they'd been living - in the fear of famine, poverty and survival. The old aunt wanders, looking for a place for herself, and when she doesn't, she dies. Ray shows death of old ideas. Ray would like change. He shows a need for change and a breakaway from practices which are keeping you again. He wants showing there's always a dependence on change. The old aunt is only metaphor for him showing how traditions have grown to be stale.
'Charulata' (1964), another one of the fantastic films by Ray, also talks about change. But here, he models it in an upper middle income Bengali society in which a lonely housewife falls in love with her brother-in-law while they both encourage one another to create. He puts two different ideas of home and desire, books and politics, pre-modernism and modernity face-to-face.
Ray's movies have a humanistic touch. He uses his 'build' to get to the deepest part of human being heart and extract out the thoughts from there. Views like Apu throwing away the necklace Durga got stolen, Amal departing home to avoid being unfaithful, Durga stealing food for her aunt add to the humanistic way of Satyajit Ray's work.
Neo-realism is another thing that motivated Ray. According to me, it's mainly because his experiences were about contemporary society. He couldn't have made them in a fictional style because they wouldn't be relevant to the modern culture. His stories weren't designed to be mere movies, but a reality somewhere with time which needed to be imitated in Bengali society and which was a representation of the same contemporary society he resided in. His character types were sketches of real people. These were close to real. For instance, when you think Durga, you do not think of her as a two-dimensional good or evil personality, but as a girl who existed and possessed different attributes to her personality exactly like everybody else. She wasn't a puppet.
Similarly, Ritwik Ghatak's movies launched different modern topics to the changing society of Bengal such as alienation, isolation, dependence on home.
In one of is own most 'personal' and also socially relevant movies 'Ajantrik', Ghatak presents the idea of alienation and isolation from the world. He shows a man's connection to his car, an inanimate object and a troubled cultural life where he can't hook up well to the people around him. Displays like where in fact the persona Bimal is talking to his car, the automobile responding to him, him caring for the car like a companion rather than caring about what his contemporary society says, show how important a figure Jagaddal (the car) is. Ghatak doesn't treat the automobile as a prop, but as a persona itself. He tries to show the car's point of view; he wants to make us feel its presence thus implying the fact how relations have also advanced along with modernization of ideas and contemporary society; how people have become more involved with their property rather than fellow humans.
Similarly, in Subarnarekha (1965), Ghatak reflects on the sensation of home (along with a great many other sub-themes such as enjoyment, relationships). His work has been about change, modernity and its results and mainly, how partition has afflicted contemporary society and Ghatak himself.
In Subarnarekha, he says a tale of a family moving to the bank of Subarnarekha River following the partition and how the girl Sita looks for contentment throughout the film. In addition, he explains to of her sense at the new home. The river becomes the new home on her behalf who she confides in her secrets, woes and joy.
From what I observed in Ghatak's films, he feels that culture has transformed from being a 'community' to more of a collective living of different individuals. I seen individualism in his work, and exactly how people have transformed off their fellows to dynamics or man-made beauty whether it's mountains and rivers to cars and property.
I think there a wide range of modernist elements found in both Satyajit Ray and Ritwik Ghatak's movies ranging from their content and themes (home, anthropomorphism, modernity itself) to their art (use of POV photographs, different style of cinematography, manipulating space and even the utilization of Brechtian elements).
'Subarnarekha' by Ritwik Ghatak has a totally different feel from Ghatak's Ajantrik where he uses equipment and unnatural elements. Here he changes to mother nature. He changes to panoramas for manifestation of feelings. His landscapes speak. For instance, in every scene when Sita sings, we see scenery of river and surroundings. At times, it looks like Sita is singing to the river, showing her storyline. Ghatak has a solid fascination of juxtaposing audio and landscape and exactly how it creates an impact in viewer's head.
What's interesting to notice is how the type of scenery shows the mind-set of personality, such as when she's happy, we see rice areas and river and when she's sad and weary, we visit a barren land.
Watching a Ritwik Ghatak film is like heading on a travel quest around the talk about. He teaches you picturesque scenery which strongly indicate nature and feelings.
Another important thing which is part of the mise-en-scene is strange framing. Ghatak loves to frame his subjects on extreme and peculiar factors of the grid and juxtapose them to their background, giving them a context. Including the picture where Sita is singing of her woes in a barren land around her and when she ends, the camera dollies out just demonstrating Sita's body (which is also lower in the shape rather than properly positioned). You can expect the unforeseen in Ghatak's design of framing. He wouldn't use conventional framing in Subarnarekha, but put two images hand and hand to create a different framework.
In Subarnarekha, Ghatak's skill direction also plays an important role. They also help create the mise-en-scene of the film. The river, the lonesome plains, one house in the middle of nowhere, very little to no people, a vintage abandoned place where the war occurred - they all create a certain ambiance. The motion and transition from a small town school to a trip across the boundary and also to a lone house in the midst of barren land. It creates a symphony - a lyrical transition from one take note to some other.
Pace of the film is one more thing that's part of the mise-en-scene. Enough time duration of the film can determine how long it would feel compared to the real-time. Ghatak manipulates time for you to the scope where Subarnarekha starts to feel realist which means time is slowed up, although nearly to match the true time. He changes tempo continuously to match the action and the duration of time. Subarnarekha is divided into chapters occurring in several passing schedules.
Camera movement is quite natural in the film. Most of the time, Ghatak uses the 'unseen' camera method and doesn't change factors of view except at a spot where Abhiram recognizes his lost mom. In that scene, camera shifts focus as to supply a viewpoint of Abhiram knowing her mom.
Ghatak uses space quite realistically creating a perfect illusion of real space. I think Ritwik Ghatak's choice of capturing on-location really helped him stay true to his sensible character of the film (just like many realist filmmakers of 20th century).
Costumes, as part of the film's mise-en-scene, are nominal and are there merely to show the original life-style. It was not stylized like placing, sensible and camera work.
Acting (great deal of thought a part of mise-en-scene) has been reduced to appear natural unlike a few of the early videos which imitated theatre.