Goodbye Rituparno: The filmmaker who pushed my intellectual boundary

What I liked best was the simplicity with which Rituparno Ghosh portrayed human emotions that was very relevant with the present day

pujab

Puja Bhattacharjee | May 30, 2013



As a reporter, bad news and good news are, for me, primarily variants of the same noun: news.

But today I was jolted by one piece of news: the untimely demise of Rituparno Ghosh, the filmmaker. For quite some time I had led myself to believed that I will not be affected by something as natural as death. I had made peace with the impermanence of life. That is until today.

Suddenly I found myself travelling back in time when I had my first brush with feminism and reality through a Rituparno Ghosh film. It was the year 2000, and I had watched the movie ‘Dahan’. I was just 13 but I did not miss the message of the film. Most of Ghosh’s films had a strong feministic undercurrent; he created a gender-sensitive space in cinema that was lacking, especially in Bengali films, for a long time prior to his advent on the movie scene.

Mainstream Hindi and Bengali movies at that time did not include the aspect of complex gender identities that exist in society.

Over the years, Ghosh’s movies pushed my intellectual boundary and led me to explore the films of other stalwarts of Bengali cinema. Before being acquainted with Ghosh’s films, I was totally cut off from contemporary Bengali cinema. The commercial films did not entice me. Whenever I thought of Bengali movies, I would think of the black and white era. What I liked best was the simplicity with which Ghosh portrayed human emotions that was very relevant with the present day.

Truth be told, I am no expert on Rituparno Ghosh and I have only watched six of the 19 movies he made. But the few I watched opened the doors of my mind and slowly ushered in the real world. Until then, I was living in a dream world conceived by the teenage mind.

After the initial hullabaloo today, the commotion will die down. A statue will perhaps be erected. Or perhaps a metro station will be named after him. Kolkata will move on. But Rituparno will be remembered as the man who ushered in an era of discussion on complex gender identities in the film industry.

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