KG Dass contribution to a healthy discourse on cinema

first_imgThere is the rare example in world cinema of a group of film critics belonging to the Cahiers du Cinema, dividing their time between exploring the intellectual content of films in their writings and actually making films. The publication had been launched by Andre Bazin in the early 1950s and it paved the way for aspiring directors like Godard, Truffaut, Chabrol and Rohmer to express their views – somewhat radically.Stalwarts from Adoor Gopalakrishnan, Girish Kasaravalli in the South to Shyam Benegal in Mumbai have been associated with academic projects in film institutes but have been unable to record their impressions in print. However, in Bengal, Satyajit Ray expressed his views on a wide range of issues in a stream of articles published despite a hectic career – spanning more than 35 features films. Also Read – Add new books to your shelfSimilarly, compilations have been made of essays written by Mrinal Sen which were spontaneous personal expressions. Ritwik Ghatak, on the other hand, had written not only essays but also plays that embraced his personal anguish over the partition. With KG Das’s arrival, documentaries and a few feature films seemed to follow suit. Associated with Films Division for nearly four decades till his retirement a few years ago, he contributed to journals that had helped sustain a lively discourse on cinema. These contributions are now in a book called ‘Chalachitrer Nepathya Katha’ (Hidden Stories on the Cinema) which is subjective. The book published by Orient Book Company was launched at Nandan in the presence of director Gautam Ghose who chose the occasion to emphasise the need for healthy debates on the cinema. These debates had been a part of critical experience but have now been diluted in the market era. Also Read – Over 2 hours screen time daily will make your kids impulsiveThis was something KG Das stressed about at the book launch. It was his way of recalling a lively climate that has all but disappeared. In one of his essays, he recalls the works of directors who had carved out a place for themselves while Satyajit Ray, Mrinal Sen and Ritwik Ghatak had become role models of film fraternity across the country. How can anyone disregard directors like Ajoy Kar, Tapan Sinha, Tarun Majumdar, Arabinda Mukherjee, Bijoy Bose, Saroj Dey, and Dilip Mukherjee, to ame a few? All of them desired a healthy culture for popular cinema in Bengal relying on the star system and the overwhelming influence of screen idols like Uttam Kumar and Suchitra Sen. KG Das, on his part, was primarily restricted to documentaries on account of association with Films Division. But he had not shied away from creative possibilities that had resulted in award winning documentaries like ‘Dreams of Rabindranath’ and ‘Mangrove of Sunderbans’. However, it was the feature ‘Dukhira’ that invoked satisfaction in him and on the occasion of the book launch, he platformed his anguish against the cruelty of the system that had led to the helplessness – and final protest – of the common man. It was the story of a young man trying desperately to make the best use of the success he had achieved in his studies in the remote corner of rural Bengal and then confronting massive hurdles from the local administration. The protest comes through in ‘Dukhiram’, which leaves a strong impression. One of the films that he had made was on the last journey of Satyajit Ray after his death. While the documentation on celluloid was invaluable, his mind was disturbed when body of the legend was brought to house from the hospital. There was a stream of visitors wanting to pay their last respects. Their entry was closely monitored. Among those who were stopped at the gate was Dulal Dutta who had edited all of Ray’s films since Pather Panchali. A soft-spoken, low-profile technician never been in the spotlight although he had made one of the most vital contributions to Ray’s films. Why didn’t anyone recognize him till a close acquaintance escorted him to the room to have a last look at his mentor? The book provides a platform where he can make candid confessions about expressing himself in spirit of freedom. Whether or not he made it to the ranks of Films Division stalwarts like Jagat Murari, Santi P. Chowdhury, Sukhdev, Harisadhan Dasgupta and Yash Chowdhury can be a matter of another debate. But what he has done is to contribute meaningfully to a healthy discourse.last_img read more