The critically acclaimed Bengali filmmaker Rituparno Ghosh is no more. While I was reading about him, I could not resist sharing interesting informative bits I came across related to his life.
Be it for his sartorial style sense or his style of movie making, Rituparno Ghosh had managed to raise eyebrows and tread uncharted territories to pursue what he loves.
Born and brought up in Kolkata to a documentary film maker father and a mother who was related to films, Ritu’s future path was predetermined by his pedigree. After clearing his Bachelor’s in Economics from Jadavpuir University, Kolkata, he ventured into advertising only to find his calling in parallel cinema. ‘Hirer Angti’ (The diamond ring) set the ball rolling for Rituparno. But it was with ‘Unishe April’ that success came his way and he went on to bag a National Award for his directorial venture.
During one of his press interviews, he revealed how Satyajit Ray had been an influence on him to take up film making. “If somebody had influenced me to become a filmmaker, it was Ray,” he said. “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,” said Rituparno in an interview.
He broke that notion by making his male protagonists imbibe feminine mannerisms on-screen. His film ‘Bariwali’ (The landlady) starring Kiron Kher, introduced the first androgynous character in his films – that of a young male servant, who looked like a girl and had girlish mannerisms.
Another characteristic that made him stand out was an uninhibited declaration and celebration of his own sexuality. Not the one to be shy and hide behind the closet, Ritu considered himself to be privileged because of his gender fluidity –that he is neither a man nor a woman.
“I don’t consider myself a woman and I don’t want to become a woman. I can wear kurta pyjama and direct a film; I can also wear kajal and jewellery and attend a social do,” he said to a leading daily in an interview.
And he embraced the concept of cross-dressing with confidence that was evident whenever he made a public appearance. He argued that the concept of unisex has been monopolised by women. Women can wear men’s clothes but not vice-versa. “Whatever I wear has always been worn by men. Wearing things like earrings and necklaces has always been a part of our sartorial history and tradition. These were tagged as feminine frills during colonial rule and I don’t see anything wrong in reinstating it. My point is why I shouldn’t celebrate my sexuality?” he rued.
He had a point and a good one at that.