Through this story we share the creative genius of Rituparno Ghosh on the occasion of his birth anniversary which was on 31st August.
Those were the times when Tollywood was living a slow death. The industry went astray with cheap remakes of Hindi movies. The diminishing flamboyance of past, made the Bengali bhodrolok refute the idea of visiting a movie hall. It was then that Rituparno Ghosh arrived with his movies, to capture the hearts of many by reviving the past glory of the Bengali film industry and giving it a new light.
Perhaps his creative genes were from his father who was a documentary film maker and a painter. After completing his schooling from South Point he went on to earn a master degree in economics from Jadavpur University. He joined Response India Adverising Agency as a copywriter. Soon he gained reputation for his succinct, appealing one liners, in Bengali, for ad campaigns. In later years he made his debut film Hirer Angti.
But it was perhaps Unishe April, his second movie which brought him to limelight. What made the difference was Ghosh’s ability to make realistic movie picking up topics from our day to day life. He weaved stories from the secret lives of Bengali Bhodrolok. His movie mostly focused on oppression of women at their home and from the society.
His movie came as a welcome change from the orthodox makes and immediately attracted the audience. While Unishe April talks about a mother daughter relationship and the complexities which grows with time, his next make Dahan revolves around a woman who was sexually harassed at the metro station. The movie raises a question in one’s mind on our approach to life.
His next movie Utsab, shows an emotionally abusive relationships. Following which he made Abohoman on the same line. Then there were the forbidden relationships, those which are looked down upon in society. Incestuous affection between first cousins (Utsab) to a widowed woman’s unmet sexual desires (Bariwali), to a romantic rivalry between mother and daughter with regard to the same man (Titli), are the topics which followed. These topics brought in a completely different wave in Bengali cinema. Soon his approach to film making made him popular and some even considered him as a successor of Satyajit Ray, Ritwik Ghatak and Mrinal Sen.
But his popularity also attracted criticism and mockery. His style and mannerisms became the butt of jokes for many upcoming comedians. But Ghosh was not here to cower down on the face of criticism. He invited these critics and comedians to his show Abong Rituparno and openly confronted them.
But Ghosh was somewhat upset with Indian Cinema and its lack of gender fluidity. He rephrased the set pattern by making movies like Memories in March, Ar akta premer golpo on homosexual relationship. These were probably the first instance when such aspects were acknowledged, in an Indian movie. His efforts generated a mixed response by his audience.
He went on making 24 movies, a Tele-film and a TV series during his lifespan. His work included Tagore’s Chokher Bali and Naukadubi. He also made a three Hindi movie Raincoat, Mumbai cutting and Sunglass.
His simplistic storytelling won the hearts of many leading to a devoted ‘madhyobitto‘ (middle class) audience who remained loyal to his films for then and for the times to come. Remembering Rituparno Ghosh, on the occasion of his birth anniversary, which was on the 31st of August.