KOLKATA (TIP): Noted filmmaker Rituparno Ghosh died of cardiac arrest at his south Kolkata residence on May 30. He was 49. Winner of 12 national and some international awards, Ghosh was suffering from pancreatitis and died of heart attack at 7.30 am, his family said. Credited for ushering in a new wave in Bengali cinema by his trailblazing films like ‘Unishe April’ and ‘Dahan’, director-turned-actor Rituparno Ghosh was known for glorifying women besides exploring the touchy subject of same-sex relationships.
As someone who had a different take on sexuality, life, filmmaking and equally adaptive to the trends and changes of contemporary filmmakers, Ghosh blazed the turf of Bengali film industry with his works. Ghosh played an important role in the revival of the film industry post the nineties with his arty and sensitive films like ‘Unishe April’, ‘Dahan’, ‘Chokher Bali’, which were not essentially melodramatic.
A self-confessed Satyajit Ray fan, Ghosh’s films glorified women, their inner feelings, passion and sufferings. The filmmaker also explored same-sex relationship in his last release ‘Chitrangada’. Fondly known as Ritu da, Ghosh was never apologetic about his crossdressing or his sexuality and in Kaushik Ganguly’s ‘Arekti Premer Galpo’ and Sanjoy Nag’s ‘Memories in March’, he played pivotal gay roles.
Born on August 31, 1963, Ghosh grew up in Kolkata. His father was a documentary filmmaker and so he was exposed to the world of art and cinema right from childhood. He started his career as a creative artist in an advertising agency, and later shifted to films. He made his directional debut in 1994 with children’s film ‘Hirer Angti’. His second film ‘Unishe April’ starring Aparna Sen and Debashree Roy won him his first of the 12 National Film Award.
Having an uncanny grasp on the prowess, Ghosh has been credited discover the other side of actors like Rituparna Sengupta. Earlier only known to be part of hardcore formula Bengali films opposite Prosenjit Chatterjee mostly, Sengupta’s second innings as an actor began after starring in Ghosh’s 1997 film ‘Dahan’, which earned her a National Film Award for Best Actress alongside co-star Indrani Halder. Ghosh also mentored Raima Sen, grand-daughter of legendary actress Suchitra Sen, and gave her the turning point of her career in ‘Chokher Bali’.
He later shifted from working with only Bengali actors to Bombay-based ones. He worked with Kirron Kher in ‘Bariwali’, Raakhee in ‘Shubho Mahurat’, Aishwarya Rai in ‘Chokher Bali’ and ‘Raincoat’, which also starred Ajay Devgn. For his first English language film ‘The Last Lear’, Ghosh roped in megastar Amitabh Bachchan, Preity Zinta and Arjun Rampal. Bipasha Basu also made her debut in Bengali films with Ghosh’s ‘Shob Charitro Kalponik’ in 2008.
His other National award winning films include ‘Dahan’, ‘Asukh’, ‘Chokher Bali’, ‘Utsab’, ‘Raincoat’, ‘Shubho Mahurat’, ‘Abohoman’, ‘Shob Charitro Kalponik’ and ‘The Last Lear’. Ghosh made his acting debut in 2003 with an Oriya film ‘Katha Deithilli Ma Ku’ directed by Himanshu Parija. He hosted two celebrity chat shows- ‘Ebong Rituporno’ and ‘Ghosh and co’. He also was the scriptwriter of hit soap ‘Gaaner Opare’ for few initial episodes. His last release was ‘Chitrangada’, a modern take on Rabindranath Tagore’s tale of the same name.
The film won the special jury award at the 60th National Film Awards. Charting a different course from his last few films on relationship and alternative sexuality, Ghosh took up the ambitious work of filming the exploits of popular Bengali sleuth Byomkesh Bakshi. The film starring ‘Kahaani’ director Sujoy Ghosh and actress Arpita Chatterjee, was in postproduction stage.