indian cinema heritage foundation

Pathik (1953)

  • GenreSocial
  • FormatB-W
  • LanguageBengali
  • Run Time79 minutes
  • Length3944.11 meters
  • Number of Reels13
  • Censor Certificate Number8310
  • Shooting LocationCalcutta Movietone

Pathik is a 1953 Bengali film directed by Debaki Bose and based on a play written by Tulsi Lahiri. The film stars renowned IPTA theatre artist Shambhu Mitra in the role of the protagonist Ashim Roy, a failed novelist who wanders around. The film shows Ashim finding himself at an unfamiliar colliery in Bengal where he visits a roadside tea shop run by an old trader called Seth Ji. Seth Ji lives with his corrupt and drunk nephew Sudarshan, the nephew’s daughter Sumitra, a domestic help Budni and her husband Rakhu who works in the local coal mines. The shop is often frequented by the men from a nearby transport department and by Nikunja Gorai, the owner of the coal mines. News of an escaped convict Atmaram reaches the shop and the shrewd and conniving Sudarshan makes a plan of helping the dacoit in exchange for money and then hand him over to the police and claim the bounty money announced. Sudarshan also makes a deal with Nikunja to keep his colliery safe from labour union troubles and also allows him to take away and use Sumitra for the benefit of his business. A distraught Sumitra asks Ashim for help but realising he cannot do anything Ashim consoles Sumitra and prepares to leave. Meanwhile Budni had made a plan to go visit her mother along with Rakhu but Rakhu does not return from the coal mine on time. It is seen that one of the miners had been badly hurt and Rakhu had gone to help him when the cables of the elevator had disconnected thus trapping the two inside the mines. Seeing this situation and the initial response of Sudarshan and Nikunja who claim that Rakhu had already left the colliery, Ashim decides to stay back and fight for the workers’ right for compensation. He succeeds in helping Budni get her deserved compensation but gets targeted by Sudarshan who sends the dacoit Atmaram after him. After a confrontation of Ashim, Atmaram and Sudarshan inside the tea shop a disgruntled Sudarshan tries to shoot the dacoit but Ashim saves him and gets shot himself. Soon all the remaining coal miners come forward in a united manner to help Ashim, and the film ends in a very hopeful and upbeat scene where all the workers together push Ashim’s broken down car towards the hospital. 

Lahiri's play is regarded as a landmark in the history of Bengali theatre, and the film adaptation came at a time when IPTA veterans like Shambhu Mitra and Bijon Bhattacharya were getting disgrunted with the CPI's policies.