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THE CLOUD-CAPPED STAR

India, 1960 (MIFF 1995, Buried Treasures - Ritwick Ghatak)

Director: Ritwik Ghatak

Unanimously considered Ghatak's master­piece The Cloud-Capped Star, full of deeply-felt passion and an amazing music/sound track, is the first of three films on the director's very per­sonal interest in the theme of refugees Ghatak made films that are almost all veiled autobiogra­phy, the dispossessed orphaned homeless and disorientated find a voice In his work.

Neeta, who embodies acceptance, consolation and selflessness is the eldest daughter and sole provider for a refugee family struggling for exis­tence in post-partition Calcutta of the Iate 1950s. Independence and a decade of famine have cre­ated a living environment that is almost beyond endurance. While the family's eldest son pursues the seemingly unrealistic goal of becoming a singer Neeta sacrifices her life's desires for their survival. Initially embracing her fate with a kind of voluptuous self-abnegation, she recognises the futility of her sacrifice too late. No longer pos­sessing the strength to reorient her life, Neeta has literally been consumed.

Ghatak's The Cloud-Capped Star deliberately dri­ves melodrama to its heightened dramatic extreme. His profound sense of the need for a radically changed society, for a total transforma­tion that cannot be achieved merely at a person­al or domestic level finds its stylistic expression in his emphatic use of close-ups, his dislocated unconventional editing and his unique use of exaggerated sound effects. A powerful and sear­ing epic of struggle and hope.

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