Female Subjectivity, Patriarchy and Melodrama in Ritwik Ghatak's Meghe Dhaka Tara
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The radical potential of melodrama to critique the dominant culture is pressed to high service in RitwikGhatak's films, which meditate on the central theme of exile and displacement. With its accent on the point of view of woman protagonist, melodrama privileges female subjectivity and locates the gendered violence of patriarchy. In the backdrop of Partition, Ghatak brings multiple contradictions – political, cultural and personal, to the surface, through melodramatic repertoire. Ghatak employs melodrama's nostalgic mode to address memory and history, trauma and pathos. Ghatak draws upon a combination of myths, traditions, folklore, history and legends, to develop a narrative imbued with multi-layered meanings and extreme emotions. Ghatak engages in thematic ritualization, offers tribal perspective and assimilates the soul of Indian narratological tradition in his films. Ghatak's stylistic devices, including the deployment of non-representational registers – music and sound to heighten the emotions and conflicts, evolve into a unique film language. This paper explores the articulation of protest through melodrama and the mise-en-scene of female suffering giving rise to a resistant narrative of partition and patriarchy in Ghatak'sMeghe Dhaka Tara. The trope of woman as nation, the image of Mother Archetype and the devalorization of “women-victims” bodies in the film will be discussed. In addition, the paper will highlight Ghatak's project of reclaiming melodrama through restoring its elements to its original constituents.
Melodrama, Patriarchy, Women, RitwikGhatak, Meghe Dhaka Tara.