Bengal’s historical journey from Rabindranath Tagore to Franz Kafka, Part 2

Picking up from my last post on Bengal the two iconic Bengali filmmakers, Satyajit Ray and Ritwik Ghatak, embody the contrasting aesthetic styles noted. Satyajit Ray is steeped in the Bengal Renaissance and embodies the Brahmo/ Tagorean picturesque: he is by far the greatest artist to have translated this vision into celluloid. While parts of Ritwik Ghatak may appear to fit into the Marxist/ progressive aesthetic in reality he transcends this frame – he is no Goutam Ghose.

The greatest moments in Ritwik Ghatak’s movies come close to the Kafkaesque/ surrealist sensibility – note, for example, the high expressionism in the unforgettable train sequence from Komal Gandhar (1961).


This captures – in the image of train travelling at high speed towards a buffer on the banks of the Padma river, and then the screen going entirely black – the agony and pain of Partition. The same sentiment also appears in the

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