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Portrayal of Alienation and Exploitation in Padma Nadir Majhi by Using Camera Angles

Autor:   •  August 2, 2019  •  Creative Writing  •  3,438 Words (14 Pages)  •  1,815 Views

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Portrayal of alienation and exploitation in Padma Nadir Majhi by using camera angles.

Gautam Ghosh has directed the movie named Padma Nadir Majhi ( The Boatman of the River Padma), released in 1993, based on the novel of  Manik Bandopadhyay in the same name. Director has selected early twentieth century as time to tell the story. He has captured a vivid picture of the domestic, social and economic life of the fishermen (Jelias) of then East Bengal, earning their living by catching fish and plying boats. The movie questions the identity of these fishermen in their own society and also in the new territory and location of Moynadeep where they are forced to accept subjugation. The sociopolitical, economic and geographic background of the narrative reinforces understanding of the various predicaments of these fisherfolk in the riverside delta region of the Padma. This movie further underlines nature’s significant role in the life of these marginalised and socially deprived classes. It focuses on the obvious paradox embedded in the nature and quality of human relationships, with significant inequalities between the fishing community and the so-called upper strata of society.

Based on the ownership of boat and nets, there are two classes presented in this movie. One is bourgeois and another is proletariat. Dhononjoy, Pitam Majhi, Hossain Miah are representative of bourgeoisies in the society where Kuber, Gonesh, Aminuddi etc are representative of proletariats. Owners never need to ply the boat and to catch fish. They simply sit on the boat, monitor workers activity and try to get surplus labor from the workers. Without any labor, they get the lion share of fish. “Here fish is evidently considered a basic commodity and its value in the market represents the relentless labor of fishermen. In this domain, the class of bourgeois who own the boats and nets exerts terrific pressure on the fishermen, whom they unethically exploit, fooling them and depriving them of their due share of profits.( Leena Sarker, 2017). While these bourgeois own the fishermen’s labor power for a definite money value, they also snatch from them their means of subsistence and drive them into penury. Besides there is representative of feudalist society named Maijjha Korta who gets five percent of total fish.  This river-centric environment no longer remains a passive and emerges as a vibrant entity playing a significant role in the class struggle for overall survival depicted in this movie.

 The movie starts with an extreme wide shot of the river Padma to introduce the spectator with the environment of the narrative. Several boats are seen in the river and later it is recognized that fishermen of those boats are busy to catch fish. In one of the boats, Kuber and Gonesh are catching fish where the owner of the boat named Dhononjoy is monitoring them. When Kuber, the protagonist of this film, is shown for the first time on screen then he is captured with a slight high angel midshot to create the sense of domination. He asked Dhononjoy to take rest for a while but Dhononjoy, with a high angle view, refuses his proposal and commands him to continue catching fish. Because, Dhononjoy wants to use Kuber’s whole time on his boat in catching fish to get more profit. From the Marxist viewpoint, capitalist always tries to get surplus time from workers to produce surplus product and thus enhances capital. Workers never get the share of surplus product.

When Dhononjoy sells fish in the market, then he removes Kuber from the market of fish and keeps him on boat for security excuse of the boat. Though he keeps Gonesh with him in the time of counting fish, he also removes Gonesh, at the time of taking money from the fish-exporter, with the excuse of buying snacks for them. He has a secret deal with the exporter about selling fish. When Gonesh is out of sight then he takes the money from the exporter. There is no way of Kuber and Gonesh to know about the exact profit of their fish. Thus Dhononjoy alienates both Kuber and Gonesh from the fish and enhances his own profit.

Sital Babu, with a low angle view, approaches Kuber to get two Hilsa fish free for the day. Although Kuber, captured in high angle shot, expresses his reluctance to give him the fish, Sital Babu pleads in such a way that Kuber’s compassionate self makes him hand over two Hilsa. While Sital Babu promises later payment, Kuber shows his scepticism This shot placed both of them in the frame. From the lower position, Kuber looks at him and Sital Babu seems more powerful. Here the protagonist, from society’s lower strata, is deprived of his due share of income by a member of the so-called civilized upper strata, whose ability to procure, prepare and serve this expensive delicacy is also notably a signification of high status. “Marxism makes us aware of ways in which products of material/historical circumstances and repressive ideologies serve to blind people to facts, keeping them subservient to the ruling power system.” (Edward, 1989).  Here, capital is retained by the village’s higher class, represented by Sital Babu.

Hossein Miya as a representative of the capitalist class receives a disproportionate share of wealth, power, privileges and status. Marxists argue that the value of goods should be calculated in terms of the amount of labour. A fundamental Marxist theme is that capitalist profit-making constitutes exploitation of workers. When a capitalist sells something his workers have made and then receives more for the item than he paid for the original input, including workers’ wages, he is also taking a large portion of the value created by the workers. Since laborers receive only a meager portion of the entire value of their productivity, they are exploited by capitalists who control the entire productive schema. Gautam Ghos’s presentation of Hossein Miya endorses this theory, as he utilises the strength of the able-bodied fishermen of Ketupur for his own benefit and single-minded, selfish mission. To fulfill his own desire, he tries to populate Moynadeep Island, which he considers his own territory, with hardworking people who will transform this virtual Dark Continent into a habitable place. He sees the island as a huge prospect, land ‘without narrative’ that could be ‘mapped, mined and written into existence’ (Parker and Starkey, 1995).

Rasu, Aminuddi, Kubers and many unknown people were forced to go to Moynadeep Island because of their unfavorable situation. All of them have desired for food security, shelter and better life. But in reality, their dreams have gone in vain. Rasu is the character through whom we notice the breaking of dream. The promise of better life is given but the living condition in this island is not suitable for living. There is no medical facility for the inhabitants of the island. Everyday inhabitants need to clean the forest and cut trees to create space for cultivating crops. In return they don’t get the right of the land. They get only the right to cultivate and minimum food and shelter to survive in the long distant place. Everybody is subjugated to Hossain Miah as landlord. When Rasu comes to Ketupur departing Moynadeep Island, then people of Ketupur calls a meeting against Hossain Miah to give him a punishment. In this meeting, Dhononjoy, Pitam Majhi and some other members who represent bourgeois class take sit on upper position and general fishermen, including the victim named Rasu, who represents working class take sit on land in front of them. Thus director creates a class distinction among them.  When Hossein Miya comes at the meeting, then he is shown in lower angle view that creates the sense of his power over the people.  He takes sit with the members of upper class who have come to give him punishment. When Pitam Majhi tells Rasu to speak his complaint against Hossein Miya, then Rasu stands to depart the place because he has not the economic background to stand against Hossein Miya who is one of the  representatives of bourgeois class. With a lower angle close up shot, Hosseinn Miya forbids him to depart the meeting and calls him in the next day at home to take his payment.


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