Titas Ekti Nadir Naam, or A River Called Titas, is a 1973 Bengali film directed by Ritwik Ghatak. The movie was based on a novel by the same name, written by Adwaita Mallabarman. The movie explores the life of the fishermen on the bank of the Titas River in Brahmanbaria, in undivided Bengal, now Bangladesh.
Alongside Satyajit Ray’s Kanchenjungha (1962) and Mrinal Sen’s Calcutta 71 (1972), Titash Ekti Nadir Naam is one of the earliest films to resemble hyperlink cinema, featuring multiple characters in a collection of interconnected stories, predating Robert Altman’s Nashville (1975).
Adrian Martin professor of film studies at Goethe University in Frankfurt writes in one of his articles for Criterion.
“The plot of A River Called Titas is pure melodrama — a form that, in the Indian context, Ghatak proudly claimed as his birthright. He makes use of cultural archetypes familiar to the broadest Indian audience, such as the suffering mother, the wise (or crazy) old man of the village, the local gossips, the blushing, virginal bride . . . and then twists narrative conventions, both subtly and provocatively. The film is, in line with Ghatak’s Brechtian orientation, a broken, deliberately disjointed melodrama, arranged in two starkly distinct halves, and gives itself the freedom to hop from one character’s story thread to another’s — an uncommon technique in world cinema of the time. As often happens in Ghatak’s films, everything — all passions and problems — begins in the formative years of childhood and adolescence. We are introduced to a young girl, Basanti (played as an adult by Rosy Samad), pining to one day marry Kishore (Prabir Mitra), who is always in the company of his friend Subol. Now men, the two travel along the river to another village, Ujaninagar, where Kishore is promptly paired off with Rajar Jhi (Kabari Choudhury). In their one, fleeting night of marital intimacy, they will conceive a child — but Rajar will hardly see her husband’s face. Back on the river (in the boat, the shy Rajar still scarcely peeks at Kishore), disaster strikes this union: Rajar is kidnapped. She survives and washes up on the banks of the Titas, but Kishore — who has lost his mind as a result of the incident — will never know it. Basanti, meanwhile, is married off to Subol — who dies the very next day. And this takes us only thirty minutes into a 156-minute film!”