Meghe Dhaka Tara and Bhalo Theko - A Bond Of Sacred Sufferance

Meghe Dhaka Tara and Bhalo Theko

Shankhamala Roy04 Oct 2008

Meghe Dhaka Tara (A cloud covered star) of 1960 is a masterpiece by Ritwik Ghatak and the first in the trilogy enjoining the socio- economic implications of partition. The other two are Komal Gandhar (1961) and Subarnarekha (1965). Bhalo Theko (Forever Yours) is a 2003 film by Goutam Halder which is itself a celebration of the mirth of arboreal microcosm symbolized by green trees during rains and Anandi the nature girl (played by Vidya Balan, her debut). What connect these two films are the female protagonists who shares many similarities and also possess a sacred dignity which separates them from the rest.

Movie lover Shankhamala Roy analyses the bond of sacred sufferance between Neeta of Meghe Dhaka Tara and Anandi of Bhalo Theko

Meghe Dhaka Tara (A cloud covered star) of 1960 is a masterpiece by Ritwik Ghatak and the first in the trilogy enjoining the socio- economic implications of partition. The other two are Komal Gandhar (1961) and Subarnarekha (1965). Bhalo Theko (Forever Yours) is a 2003 film by Goutam Halder which is itself a celebration of the mirth of arboreal microcosm symbolized by green trees during rains and Anandi the nature girl (played by Vidya Balan, her debut). What connect these two films are the female protagonists who shares many similarities and also possess a sacred dignity which separates them from the rest.

Meghe Dhaka TaraA scene from Meghe Dhaka Tara

According to Kumar Sahani, famous filmmaker and critic a triangular division taken from Trantik abstraction is the key to the understanding of Meghe Dhaka Tara. The breaking up of society is visualized as a three way division of womanhood. The three principle woman characters embody the traditional aspects of feminine power. Neeta has a maturing quality. Her sister Geeta is a sensual woman and their mother represents the cruel aspect. The incapacity of Neeta to combine all there qualities is the source of her tragedy. However in Bhalo Theko, Anandi stands against those without roots and the craze for internationalization in a cruel and perplexed human culture. The menace of globalization and global warming both are addressed to, subtly.

Neeta (played flawlessly by Supriya Chowdhury) of Meghe Dhaka Tara is the sole breadwinner in an expatriated family. She is a beautiful young woman who lives with her family-the refugees from East Pakistan in a suburb of Calcutta. Neeta is a self-sacrificing person who is constantly exploited by her family and fianc, who take her goodness for granted. Her life is ridden with personal tragedy. She loses her fianc, her job and her health by contracting Tuberculosis. On the other hand Anandi of Bhalo Theko, the pure, kind and simple girl who caresses plants like her beloved ones, is ditched by Babua, her boyfriend, loses her brother and is deserted by her sister. Nature, tradition and love are Anandis only pillars of support after the burden of her family thrust on her.

According to renowned film critic Eric ODemuell, Ghataks representation of the Bengali woman as the symbolic representation of the joy sorrow and nostalgia, is associated by him with the birth of the Indian state. In Halders film, we are faced with the smoldering day is the Naxalite movement, in which Anandi loses her loving brother.

Bhalo ThekoA scene from Bhalo Theko

There is ample use of close-ups of Neeta in Meghe Dhaka Tara. The most popular one is looks up in grief and suffocation while returning from Sanats house. Ghatak consciously uses angles which project Neeta face as the face of goddess Durga during immersion. The first scene shows Neeta coming out of an arboreal background which unmistakably has the effect of the emergence of a nature goddess. In the last scene, which has the implication of Neeta dying, the camera pans covering the greenery of the mountains, surrounding the nursing home in which Neeta is admitted. It implies that the nature girl, Himalayas daughter (Durga) would return to her home after spending few days in the earthly abode. According to some cine-scholars, in Bhalo Theko Anandi personifies ecstatic purity and placid mirth. An enigmatic Buddhasm also pervades film.

Meghe Dhaka Tara has some experimental and pioneering sound effects. When Shankar (Neetas brother) and Neeta are singing a Rabindra Sangeet together, during the last stanza, a whipping sound starts symbolizing the unending suffering of Neeta and the tragic twists of her fate. In Bhalo Theko we have heard repeated use of the sound of burning of Dal which symbolizes the day to day drudgery of Anandi.

In the reverberating penultimate scene of Meghe Dhaka Tara, Neeta cries out Dada aami bachte chai (Brother I want to live) and throws herself into her brothers arms. In Bhalo Theko, in the first scene we see Anandi facing a nightmare that she, as an infant is lost in a fair and murmurs Dada aami hariye jachchhi (Brother I am getting lost...). Both of them considered their elder brothers as their last resort.

Meghe Dhaka Tara is a sad ballad throbbing with emotions. Though it is called on exquisite melodrama, it is a film that manages to say things subtly that a typical melodrama never does. A conscientious happiness is the kernel of Bhalo Theko. For Anandi happiness means freedom from bondages, both materialistic and non-materialistic. Freedom also means oneness with nature. However, a sense of honesty and purity is woven in the film which is materialized in Neeta and Anandi and that is the merging point of these two films.

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