(aka "Ekti Nadir Naam" )


directed by Anup Singh
UK, India, Bangladesh 2001


Anup Singh's debut feature, The Name of a River, is an ambitious, evocative docu-fictional essay exploring the life and work of the great Indian film-maker, Ritwik Ghatak (1925-1976).

Ghatak's reputation as India's most important film-maker has been steadily growing since the first major retrospective of his films was organised internationally in the 1980s. Satyajit Ray has described him as 'one of the few truly original talents in the cinema this country has produced'. Although largely ignored in his lifetime and usually overshadowed by the illustrious Ray, Ghatak was a legend to a whole generation of Indian arthouse directors and was seen by many as the father of the Indian New Wave.

Born in 1925 in what is today known as Bangladesh, he was 18 in 1943 when the 'great' Bengal famine drove him and his family from Dhakka to Calcutta as refugees. India's simultaneous independence and partition into India and Pakistan in 1947, and a further partition later into India, Pakistan and Bangladesh, made it impossible for him to return to his homeland. The Partition of India and Ghatak's separation from his homeland act as the driving force in his life and work.

In The Name of a River Anup Singh uses a love story between a man and a woman crossing the river between Bangladesh and India - playing the roles of refugees, divine beings and literary and cinematic characters - to understand the mysteries of the events that led to the massacre of half a million people and forced ten million people to migrate across the newly established borders. Covering a huge area of visual, aural and intellectual ground within its 90 minutes, this exquisite film presents its audience with a dreamlike odyssey through a history, a life and a work that we, the viewers, encounter in the shape of stunning landscapes and music, lovers and gods, myths and memories, literature and cinema.

The Name of a River has been screened at numerous international film festivals, winning the Aravindan Award, India, for best dbut film-maker in 2001, and the Silver Dhow Award for best feature at the Zanzibar International Film Festival in 2002.

Excerpt of review from BFI located HERE

Theatrical Release: June 18th, 2001

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DVD Review: BFI - Region 2 - NTSC

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Region 2 - NTSC

Runtime 1:27:34

1.33:1 Original Aspect Ratio
Average Bitrate: 6.31 mb/s
NTSC 720x480 29.97 f/s

NOTE: The Vertical axis represents the bits transferred per second. The Horizontal is the time in minutes.


Audio Bengali (Dolby Digital)
Subtitles English, none
Features Release Information:
Studio: BFI

Aspect Ratio - 1.33:1

Edition Details:
• Feature length commentary with director Anup Singh
• Anup Singh biography
• Ritwik Ghatak biography
• Sleeve notes by Paul Willermen
• Director's notes by Anup Singh

DVD Release Date: June 28th, 2003
Transparent Keep case

Chapters 14



Film: The film certainly made for a unique viewing experience. Being completely unfamiliar with the life and works of Ritwik Ghatak, I was unsure what to expect out of Singh's film. Fortunately no previous acquaintance with his work is necessary to appreciate this slow and meditative film. While it is ostensively a love story about a young Bengal , the film also provides us with a deeply moving look at the plight of refugees during the British cleaving of India. Certainly the film will not suit everyone's tastes. As mentioned above, the film can be quite slow at times, but it never feels boring thanks to the stunning visuals offered in the trip down river.


As Singh mentions in the commentary, the film was shot over the course of seven years, which results in a somewhat disparate image quality throughout the film. The opening scenes particularly show their age with numerous scratches and artifacts visible. While this becomes less severe over the course of the film, they never go away completely.

While I didn't play the Dolby digital audio track in a machine that can bring out its best qualities, the sound was always passable on my laptop.

The biographies aren't likely of much value unless you are completely unfamiliar with Ghatak and Singh as I was. Singh's audio commentary on the other hand contains some interesting anecdotes on the many woes that befell the shoot and an explanation for his passion for the work of Ghatak.

Many thanks to the BFI for financing the film and releasing it on DVD. While the film certainly has its ups and downs, it is well worth a viewing if you can get your hands on it.

 - Brian Montgomery


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