Story of a lost journalist

November 15, 2008

Ritwik Ghatak’s Ajantrik, 1958 movie

Filed under: Movies/TV — Cris @ 14:27
Tags: ,

I have just watched a 1958 Bengali movie called Ajantrik. With subtitles of course. They are showing 3 of Ritwik Ghatak’s movies at K C S Panicker Hall, Museum today. I had to be pushed by friends into going, Saturday mornings being the R-I-P in B-E-D time for me. I am absolutely thankful for all the pushing, though I should remember to set my phone to not accept any calls before 10.

About the movie, it’s a taxi driver’s story, where his first love has always been ‘Jagaddal’, his taxi. I was expecting a lot of absurd actions, unnecessary music, exaggerated emotions and expressions, pushed-in pathetic attempts of humor. I was a moron. Watching a few old movies should be no reason to form unjustified prejudices against all that happened before 1980s. Ajantrik was a classic. The audio was not that clear, and sometimes the visuals too were a little blurry – I am not pointing that out as a fault.

Whatever I say about old movies, many times I have been the victim of time-attack – which means I am arrested by the old times, where I had no place. It’s a strange feeling, the one that you get when you see small flowers and stones in the background and wonder what happened to those; when you look beyond the characters and see people and buildings far behind the action and wonder where their fate ended. From scene 1 of Ajantrik, I experienced all the above. It was obviously black and white. There is no fuss, no drama, we are taken straight to the town where lives our hero Bimal and his love, Jagaddal . The movie, if I heard right, starts with a weird laugh. It starts with humor. And wow, who said movie makers those days didn’t know how to make the audience laugh. Though the theme itself was a dear precious one, the film had its share of fun – both loud obvious ones, and silent subtle ones. I thought so many times, movies today that try to inject slapstick meaningless scenes in an attempt to be funny, had a lot to learn from its predecessors of the 50s.

Actions and expressions – knock on my head for being a prejudiced idiot – ok there may have been a lot of eye-bulging here and there, but that doesn’t stand out odd when the rest of the actions were done so neatly. The actors talked and behaved like how they would have, if you took a time machine and went back to the streets of Bengal of 50 years ago. You’d wonder how they did it so well, but then why not? Who said less advanced technology meant less advanced aesthetics? And oh the music, it just comes as part of the background, as part of the past times, though I’d say it was a tad too high at some points – and I believe background music should not stand out in movies, it should be just that- background.

And there was this one female character, she looked really pretty. I have heard that women those days didn’t really take to acting. But when this beautiful lady came on screen, I thought Ghatak must have done a lot of searching for that one! There was a small boy, who stays as that small boy in mind, when he should be the age of my father now. Another wonder of movies – how we sometimes find it incredible that child actors grow up!

The movie was great. It had emotions, it had a fresh little idea, it had a man, woman, child, it had a lot many things I have no idea how to describe. I am going to see a lot more 1950 movies, and next time I wont need a lot of pushing. Well maybe a bit.

A lot more about the movie could be found here.



  1. I have watched some old English movies – and let me tell you – there are some excellent ones out there. I hate the squeals they are pushing out today.

    Comment by Binny V A — November 15, 2008 @ 21:34 | Reply

  2. Good that u could see an acclaimed Classic movie.Why u did not expect the best from Ghatak I dont know. I am surprised abt this classification of new is good and old is bad.Many of the best films of the World were made before 1950.Also all 50s movies are not good, So look up the Director before going.

    Comment by Charakan — November 17, 2008 @ 14:19 | Reply

  3. Thats fairly eclectic to say the least ! You seem to inspire me with doing different elements and appreciating life better..!

    Thank you !

    Comment by Kavi — November 18, 2008 @ 21:24 | Reply

  4. @Binny, hmm I should watch more of those

    @Charakan, yes I know, I am entirely at fault here. To come out clean, I know very little about classic movies or directors so it was nasty of me to make such quick judgments(and I think I cursed myself enough in the entry for my prejudice)

    @Kavi, thank you very much, thats the first time I hear I inspired someone! Really, thank you so much, you have made my day!

    Comment by Cris — November 19, 2008 @ 18:29 | Reply

  5. should try & see that – some of the old movies are really fascinating!

    Comment by maddy — November 22, 2008 @ 00:13 | Reply

  6. @maddy, you bet 🙂

    Comment by Cris — November 24, 2008 @ 12:06 | Reply

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