Usually when it comes to Bengali art house movies, Satyajit Ray is pretty much the master for me. But tonight I came across something quite brilliant and unique. The work of director Ritwik Ghatak whose short output is overshadowed by the globally known master works of Satyajit Ray.
The Cloud-Capped Star is a new wave movie, Indian style with melodrama. Usually I walk away from a Satyajit Ray movie deeply touched by the acting, where as in this one (because of the onslaught of melodrama) I did not feel as attached to the characters. BUT, it is the cinematography that leaves me breathless! Shots that I have not even seen in the works of Satyajit Ray. Cuts, jumps and swipes of frames that create a masterful movie. And all this accompanied by amazing sounds of 1960 Bengal. There are moments when the music creates such an impact on the image that words need hardly be uttered by the characters.
Ritwik Ghatak shows us poverty, abandonment, family jealousy and mental madness in a strikingly beautiful and magical way. The opening scene of a line of ancient trees in the Bengal landscape is stunning. Scenes and locations are repeated throughout the movie, and the impact of this is that we feel at home in those moments when we revisit the places with the characters. To be fair, the melodrama is touching at times, the acting is strong and the characters are believable.
I will be exploring further movies of Ritwik Ghatak. His output was small, but if this is an indication of what is to come, I am excited at the prospect of discovering Bengal again through the eyes of a visionary directory.