A new book brings together a collection of Ritwik Ghatak's short stories written mostly within a short span between 1947 and 1950 and much before he became famous as a filmmaker.
The tales in Ritwik Ghatak Stories reflect his protest against 'the wickedness, villainy and oppression' he saw around him, his romantic nostalgia for a lost El Dorado, his intense feeling for man's natural environment the land, the sea and the sky.
While these stories mirror the ethos of the tumultuous decade of India in the '40s, they go beyond that to reveal a vision of life that encompasses a compassion for human frailties and a deep commitment to humanism.
Ghatak wrote about a hundred short stories and at least two novels from 1943 onwards. This collection, published by Niyogi Books, has 17 stories, all translated by Rani Ray.
In the book's introduction, cultural Sumanta Banerjee says these stories display a surprisingly wide span of Ritwik's concerns. Both in their style and themes, the stories show considerable variety, he writes.
Some of the stories are set in Bengali middle class environs (like On the Trail of the Milky Way) while some deal with working class people and their struggles (like Comrade and Eyes). Some are passionately romantic with a palpitating poetic quality (like Ecstasy or Love). A few are grimly realistic descriptions of social injustice (like The Deposition), and the human tragedies born of the 1947 Partition (like The Crystal Goblet and The Earthly Paradise Remains Unshaken).
Ghatak combines these various tendencies with great power and tenderness in his stories—sometimes in the same story, says Banerjee.