BJP turns to Ritwik Ghatak films to promote CAA

At a time when the country is on fire over protests against the new citizenship law, the BJP has turned to the films of famed director Ritwik Ghatak to bolster its stand.

Ghatak, who along with Satyajit Ray and Mrinal Sen formed a trio pioneering the new wave cinema in India, soulfully portrayed the pain and agony of people forced to migrate to India after the partition of the country in 1947.

The Bengali director”s partition trilogy – Meghe Dhaka Tara (Cloud-capped Star), Subarnarekha and Komal Gandhar (A Soft Note on a Sharp Scale) have been regarded as masterpieces of world cinema through the decades.

To bring alive the trauma of those times when lakhs of refugees came to West Bengal after partition, and make people understand the need for the Citizenship Amendment Act, the BJP”s youth wing Bharatiya Janata Yuva Morcha (BJYM) has made a six-minute propaganda video clip using clippings from Ghatak”s films.

“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. These films are very relevant in the present situation,” said BJP leader Samik Bhattacharya.

The video starts from the pre-Ghatak times, covering the Great Calcutta Killings of 1946, and stretches into the present times upto the granting of citizenship to the uprooted people now, Bhattacharya said.

Interestingly, Ghatak was a lifelong Leftist and a member of the Communist Party of India till his expulsion in 1955. He was also a leading figure of the CPI”s cultural wing Indian People”s Theatre Association (IPTA).

The Trinamool Congress mocked the BJP for turning to a Leftist in desperation. “Those who insult Amartya sen, make oblique comments about Abhijit Banerjee winning the Nobel prize, are now clutching on to such a personality. This is the biggest example of political bankruptcy,” said Trinamool secretary general Partha Chatterjee.

Bhattacharya, however, said Ghatak”s political identity was not important in the present context.”The pain of partition has come up repeatedly in his films. This is what we are highlighting”.

The CAA seeks to provide Indian nationality to Hindus, Christians, Sikhs, Parsis, Jains and Buddhists fleeing persecution in Pakistan, Afghanistan and Bangladesh.

As per the Act, such communities will not be treated as illegal immigrants now and will be given Indian citizenship.

The legislation has led to intense protests in many parts of the country, and at least 20 people have died during the agitation so far.

In Bengal, trains, buses and railways stations have been torched and vandalised, and roads and train tracks blockaded by the protesters.

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