“If I have to go away, can I leave a bit of me with you?” you once used these lines in your film ‘Memories in March Rituparno. Today you went away, leaving behind an eternity. For a non bengali like me, you were the face of cinema in Bengal.
My heart sanks as I write RIP Rituparno Ghosh on my fb status.
He was a man who bagged number of National and International Awards by managing to raise eyebrows and treading those unchartered territories in pursuit of what he loved.
If I have to write about Rituparno Ghosh I can go on and on, but the man whom I never got the opportunity to meet, I will not be able to do justice. He was the man I knew through his interviews and I would like to share some excerpts today.
One of the most admired filmmakers of this generation, he was a self-confessed fan of Satyajit Ray.”It was Ray who inspired me to become a filmmaker. Ray 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.”
While watching his films one can easily see the impact that Tagore has on him. As he once said, “What I have always felt about Tagore was that he was infinity incarnate. This very idea was reinforced as I researched for the documentary. It is absolutely impossible to capture him in one documentary…even ten would not be sufficient”
The trait that made him stand out was an unrestrained declaration of his own choices in intimacy, “I know many of my viewers apprehend that I might start wearing the sari any day. Let me tell you, I shall never wear a sari. I remember someone asking me whether I shall ever wear the dhoti-kurta? My answer was I wouldn’t. I’ll not wear any gender-determining attire…neither sari nor dhoti-kurta…I shall always go for something in-between. That’s the best way of celebrating gender fluidity.”
Ghosh was a sensitive storyteller with an understanding of emotions. The emotions in man-woman relationships had been evident in Ghosh’s earlier films. He was known for glorifying women and their emotions besides exploring the subject of alternate relationships. He once said, ” As long as you romanticize about intimacy it’s not so disconcerting. It’s even better if you can represent intimacy figuratively than literally. But the moment you unravel the crudity associated with it, I mean asort of brutality that underlies it, it becomes alarming.”
Ghosh, who always urged us to reconsider the stereotypes never considered himself as an activist. “An artist need not be an activist, and art doesn’t really need to be political all the time. As an artist, I have been participating in this movement in my own way. You can say my decision to enact queer characters on screen is an expression of my activism. I was aware that I would end up alienating a section of my audience which had never associated my preferences (in intimacy) with my work. Even then, I could not be mendacious about my preferences. That would have been dishonest.”
Fondly known as Ritu da, he is credited for ushering in the new wave in the Bengali cinema by making films like Unishe April and Dahan. Rituparno Ghosh, We will remember you.
Image Source: IANS