Shoojit Sircar expressed that he felt illiterate in front of an eminent director like Rituparno Ghosh. “I don’t think in this country anyone understood women better than him. In fact, he understood women better than any woman could understand herself. He understood relationships and he was a milestone in Indian cinema,” added Shoojit. Rituparno lived his life on his terms and was frank about his sexual orientation.
Director and actor Rituparno Ghosh died in Kolkata died at 7.30 am on May 30, 2013. The filmmaker suffered a massive cardiac arrest. He was 49. Ghosh was suffering from pancreatitis
Rituparno Ghosh had just finished filming Satyanneshi – a mystery caper by fictional sleuth Byomkesh Bakshi in whose role he cast fellow director Sujit Ghosh.
Rituparno Ghosh was born in Kolkata on August 31, 1963. Both his parents were related to films. His father was a documentary filmmaker and he grew up in a world of movies. He went to Kolkata’s South Point School and then studied economics at Jadavpur University.
Ghosh made 19 films and won 12 National Awards. He began his film career with ‘Hirer Angti’ (The diamond ring) starring Moon Moon Sen in 1992, after a short stint in advertising. His second film Unishe April, starring Aparna Sen and Debashree Roy, won the National Award for Best Feature Film. This film explored a man’s failed attempt to ingratiate himself into the graces of a prosperous household to get hold of the property. Whether Gandharva Kumar’s magic tricks work forms the movie’s climax.
In a little over a decade, Rituparno Ghosh has established himself as one of the best directors in contemporary Indian cinema. Though he has largely worked in Bengali, his native language, with stories and themes that are rooted in Bengali culture, his films have broken geographical and linguistic barriers to reach out to national and international audiences.
Rituparno Ghosh followed up the critical and commercial success of Unishe April with a string of acclaimed films including Dahan starring Rituparna Sengupta and Indrani Haldar, Bariwalistarring Kirron Kher, Titli starring Konkona Sen Sharma and Shubho Mahurat starring Raakhee and Sharmila Tagore.
The blockbuster Chokher Bali starred Aishwarya Rai Bachchan in one of her most acclaimed roles. She also starred in his Hindi language film Raincoat with Ajay Devgn.
Rituparno Ghosh directed Amitabh Bachchan and Preity Zinta in English film The Last Lear.
He had won the Special Jury award this year at the National Film Awards for ‘Chitrangada’, a film based on the story of Chitrangada from the Mahabharat, who struggles with his sexual identity. The film, which Rituparno Ghosh also starred in, was seen as semi-autobiographical and mirrored the director-actor’s own struggle with gender and identity.
While accepting the award, he said, “This award has been given to non-conventional sexuality. People in India had started accepting it at their individual level but this award to the subject is from the government’s side. So it is a signal that they are accepting it.”
Rituparno Ghosh also acted in the films Arekti Premer Golpo and Memories In March.
In September last year, Ghosh had expressed his take on India’s official entry to the Oscars. He lamented how regional cinema, including his own, was ignored for such honours.
Ghosh was adjudged the `big director of decade` by the public in the `Big Bangla Movie Awards 2010`.
Rituparno Ghosh was also a gay icon who lived his life in his own terms in recent years, often dressing boldly to boast his effeminate bearing.
Just Another Love Story (Aar Ekti Premer Golpo) is a strikingly original film that explores alternative sexual orientations and identities across two generations.
Director Kaushik Ganguly says, “I chose Rituparno to play Abhiroop because he would understand the minute psychological, physical and social nuances of the character the best. He is sensitive about gays and people with homosexual orientation. He has changed the way he talks and walks for this character.” Not really, Rituparno practically plays himself in the film.
Ritu says, “There’s so much interest in this film because I’m playing a gay filmmaker but everyone has assumed I’m playing a real character. The film is not about me. Why are journalists trying to find scandal in an actor’s life through the character he plays? The subject matter on sexual orientation is far more important than the strange connections that are being made between the film and my life. I find it distinctly distasteful that the actor’s sexual orientation is being extended into the character he’s playing. At least I’m courageous enough to confront my own sexuality. I don’t need to engage in an art form to address my sexuality. It’s indecent and humiliating.”
After “Arekti premer golpo” (Just another love story) and “Memories in March”, both of which have strong gay protagonists and Rituparno Ghosh stepping out in front of the camera, the Bengali film director has now completed shooting his first “queer” film, which is also a metaphor for his own sexual transformation.
Ritguparno Ghosh was in Kathmandu before two years to talk about his life, films and the recent “queer shift” in career at “Count me IN”, a three-day conference by New Delhi-based rights organisation Crea to raise awareness about the ongoing violence against the marginalized: differently abled women, sex workers, gays, lesbians and transgenders.
The “significant shift” in Rituparno’s life – when he began publicly appearing in a woman’s persona – had “a lot” to do with the passing away of his mother.
“Queers are supposed to be irresponsible to their families, ” he told a spellbound audience. “People think their parents don’t love them. My world centred around my parents.”
His wish not to see them suffer social ridicule held him back from revealing his sexual identity.
After his mother’s death, the other factor that gave him the courage to come out of the closet was Singur, the town in West Bengal’s Hooghly district where people’s protests at the taking over of their land to build the Tata Group’s Nano car factory led to violence, deaths and ultimately, the withdrawal of the factory.
“I was editing a publication and my first edit was on Singur, ” he said. “It gave me a sense of courage. I thought if I can write against an establishment… it opened the door for other avenues of courage.”
The two biggest artistic and cultural influences on him came from Rabindranath Tagore, who has been an abiding influence on all Bengalis and whose transitions from the male into the female voice have never struck a discordant note, and Satyajit Ray.
“If somebody had influenced me to become a filmmaker, it was Ray. He set a masculine prototype for film directors. People were proud of his height and his English. People (like me) who wear danglers and kajol to parties (were regarded) as an insult to Ray,” Ghosh said in an interview.
Talking exclusively to Zee Media, veteran filmmaker Shyam Benegal said, “Rituparno followed the legacy initiated by stalwarts like Satyajit Ray and Mrinal Sen. He had a high sense of aesthetic and had a great ability of tell stories and handle actors. There is hardly any flaw in his kind of filmmaking. His passing away is a huge loss to the film industry.”
Rituparno was working on ‘Satyanweshi’, a film on Byomkesh Bakshi.
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Rituparnoghosh in Just another love story