Thursday, October 29, 2015

361. Meghe Dhaka Tara/The Cloud Capped Star (1960)


Running Time: 134 minutes
Directed By: Ritwik Ghatak
Written By: Ritwik Ghatak, from novel by Shaktipada Rajguru
Main Cast: Supriya Choudhury, Anil Chatterjee, Niranjan Ray, Gita Ghatak, Bijon, Bhattacharya

BUMMER

I ended up putting this one off for almost as long as I possibly could and wouldn't you know, it actually wasn't that bad...Let's jump right in it today...


Our main character is Nita, the elder daughter in an impoverished family, in India. When we first start, Nita is going to school, despite her family's meager income. The patriarch of the family is getting along in years and earns money as a professor. The mother stays home to take care of the homestead and the brother is a wannabe singer, who feels that he need not earn a living and instead, spend his days practicing for when he's a star. The rent is always late, bills can't be paid and there's almost zero rupees available for luxuries. So when the father takes a fall and breaks his hip, it is Nita who makes the ultimate sacrifice, quitting school and going to get a job instead. There are also two other siblings: a younger brother and sister to Nita, who are also of working age. When her younger brother goes off to work, away from home, the family is saddened by the news that he has had an accident. Nita, always ready to sacrifice for her family, goes off to stay with her younger brother in the hospital and while there, contracts tuberculosis. Meanwhile and many years later, Nita's elder brother actually makes it as a singer, who returns home to visit Nita after she has taken ill.


So yeah, nothing worth getting too worked up over and this is something that I could've watched months ago, as it wasn't nearly worth putting off until this far into the game. Like I've been saying, I REALLY REALLY should've set aside 50 or even a full 100 movies to be my grand finale, the second I started moving in random order. Oh well - live & learn. Anyway, as I was saying, this wasn't great or anything, as is rarely the case with Indian cinema (in my experiences), but not bad and certainly watchable and not the absolute hot mess that I was expecting. Why is it that I just can't get excited about Indian movies? I'm pretty sure it's because Satyajit Ray completely ruined it for me - as I was, at one time, looking forward to the Apu trilogy and that turned out to be completely not my style.


The Cloud Capped Star is kind of like It's a Wonderful Life, except even more of a bummer. I think that may be the other problem with Indian cinema. Even though I harp that I love a sad ending, I think subconsciously I want characters that I care about to turn out somewhat for the better. I don't like phony, tacked on happiness either, but there's such a thing as too much of a downer and that's what The Cloud Capped Star is. It is a little drawn out too, if you ask me. I mean, everything I outlined above, with the exception of highlighting Nita's love life is pretty much all that happens in the two plus hour running time. I think this story could've been done in a slightly more succinct manner and I think it would've been for the better. As it is, don't dread it...but don't go in expecting too much either.

RATING: 5.5/10  Better than average and really, that's saying something for an Indian film. I think I can say, pretty definitively, that Mother India was the best Indian film I saw from THE BOOK, period.

MOVIES WATCHED: 997
MOVIES LEFT TO WATCH: 4

October 29, 2015  4:05pm

2 comments:

  1. Sorry Andrew .. as we all dash towards the finishing line, i've been missing making a reply to quite a few lately ... Another one that was 'good'. Nothing More, but nothing to inspire 9in me) much to say about it.

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    1. I agree. Good, but not great. In fact, it was exactly average.

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