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DCA Archive

The Citizen

Ritwik Ghatak

Made in 1952, three years before Satyajit Ray’s Pather Panchali (Song of the Little Road), Nagarik would have marked the beginning of the Indian New Wave. However, it was not released until 1977, a year after Ghatak’s death.

Nagarik revolves around the trials and tribulations of a refugee family who migrated to Kolkata as a result of Partition. The film has an unmistakable Ghatak touch in celebrating solidarity and camaraderie among the disenfranchised. 

The use of sound is particularly unique and notable in this film. Safdar Hashmi (1954 – 1989), a notable Indian Marxist playwright & director notes, “…Ritwik made pioneering use of sound as an instrument of structuring his film in a dialectical framework. In his hands, for the first time, sound in Indian cinema graduated from merely amplifying dialogue and 'effect' music to becoming a conscious part of the whole design serving as much as to heighten as to comment, analyse and throw into analytical perspective the immediate dialogical and narrative context. Another innovation [in Nagarik] was the device of using deep focus to place his characters firmly in their social environment."  

Nagarik is part of our Ritwik Ghatak retrospective. One of the most original auteurs of Indian cinema, Ghatak used his films to explore the social and political realities of India after Partition. Organised in collaboration with National Film Archive of India and Ritwik Ghatak Memorial Trust, and curated by Dr Sanghita Sen from the University of St Andrews, this is the first retrospective of Ghatak’s films in the United Kingdom, offering a rare chance to see six of his works.

We are very sorry for the untimely death of Samhita Ghatak, Ritwik Ghatak's daughter, in March this year. She was very generous in her support for this event and we extend our condolences to her family.