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Ritwik Ghatak’s family issues statements against BJP’s use of his films to promote CAA

  • Published at 10:39 pm December 24th, 2019
Ritwik Ghatak
Indian film-maker Ritwik Ghatak | Collected

'We demand the material spreading disinformation be repealed with urgent and immediate effect'

In a written statement yesterday, family members of renowned film director, Ritwik Ghatak, have condemned and objected to the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) Yuva Morcha using scenes from his films depicting the chaos after partition in a video that is now being circulated by the party’s youth wing. 

The six-minute video is about the party’s stand on the National Register of Citizens (NRC) and the Citizenship Amendment Act (CAA).

Twenty-four members of Ghatak’s family described the party’s use of the filmmaker’s work as “unacceptable”, and said that it “violates the fundamental principles he stood for”. 

“We, the undersigned, family members of the late Shri Ritwik Kumar Ghatak, strongly condemn the misappropriation and misuse of his politics and his cinema by the Bharatiya Janata Yuva Morcha to defend the controversial and discriminatory National Register of Citizens (NRC) and the Citizens Amendment Act (CAA). 

“Shri Ghatak’s cinema reflected his deep empathy for the underprivileged  – in particular, the displaced and marginalized victims of political and social upheavals. He was secular to the bone, as everyone who knew him can attest, and his writings and cinema are proof of this. 

“To use any part of his filmography – divorced from context -- to justify laws that will make every citizen of the country pass through an ordeal to re-establish their citizenship and might render millions from one particular community, Muslims, stateless is deemed unacceptable by us. It violates the fundamental principles he stood for. 

We demand the material spreading disinformation be repealed with urgent and immediate effect.”

Ghatak, who was a member of the Communist Party of India till he was expelled in 1955, was one of the main leaders behind the party’s cultural wing, the Indian People’s Theatre Association. 

Ghatak, along with Bengali filmmakers Satyajit Ray and Mrinal Sen portrayed the distress of people forced to migrate to India after the Partition in 1947.

The Bengali director is renowned for his partition trilogy Meghe Dhaka Tara (The Cloud-capped Star), 1960; Komal Gandhar (E Flat), 1961; and Subarnarekha (The Golden Thread), 1962.

BJP leader Samik Bhattacharya said that the video begins from the Great Calcutta Killings of 1946 – about the communal riots in West Bengal – and then comes to the present time when the Citizenship Amendment Act was enforced. “There is a concerted effort to erase the history of partition, and some people are supporting a divisive brand of politics that seeks to keep the present generation in the dark through a misinformation campaign,” he told IANS on Sunday. “These films are very relevant in the present situation.”