Members of director Ritwik Ghatak’s family, including his twin sister Pratiti Devi have released a statement.
It reads, “We, the undersigned, family members of the late Shri Ritwik Kumar Ghatak, strongly condemn the reported misappropriation and misuse of his politics and his cinema by the Bharatiya Janata Yuva Morcha to defend the controversial and discriminatory National Register of Citizens (NRC) and the Citizenship Amendment Act (CAA).”
The statement has 24 signatories and notes that “Ghatak’s cinema reflected his deep empathy for the underprivileged — in particular, the displaced and marginalised victims of political and social upheavals. He was secular to the bone, as everyone who knew him can attest, and his writings and cinema are proof of this.”
Ghatak’s family took strong objection to using his work to justify CAA/NRC. “To use any part of his filmography — divorced from context —to justify laws that will make every citizen of the country pass through an ordeal to re-establish their citizenship and might render millions from one particular community stateless, is deemed unacceptable by us. It violates the fundamental principles he stood for.”
The family also demanded that the material “spreading disinformation be repealed with urgent and immediate effect.”
According to The Telegraph, “The Bharatiya Janata Yuva Morcha, the BJP’s young wing, had made a six-minute clip using scenes from Ghatak’s Partition trilogy — Meghe Dhaka Tara, Subarnarekha and Komal Gandhar — to drum up support for the Citizenship (Amendment) Act.” While the BJP has claimed that no one family owns Ghatak, Section 57 of the Copyright Act (that does not allow anyone to distort a work of art or do anything that would be prejudicial to the artist’s honour or reputation), might not be in its favour.
The Telegraph also quotes Maitreesh Ghatak, the director’s great nephew as saying, “The decision to issue the statement was spontaneous. Ritwik Ghatak’s message should only be used for inclusive humanist causes, not for divisive political causes.”