Thursday, May 30, 2013

Rituparno Ghosh

I am absolutely shocked by the sudden death of Rituparno Ghosh, one of the best contemporary Indian directors, who passed away at the young age of 49.

My view of Rituparno changed significantly with 2006's Dosar, an absolutely lovely film. But even more memorable was the experience of helping acquire this film for the Calgary International Film Festival (CIFF). It turned out that CIFF had the international premier of Dosar.

Back in 2005, I was tipped off about Dosar by a good friend who is a film critic in Mumbai. Then in early 2006, my friend put me in touch with a Bengali critic who provided me Rituparno's home phone number in Kolkata. I still remember being nervous about having to phone him at home. In the early 2000's, my attempts to interview Bollywood actors was a horrible experience. I was once shouted at and treated rudely by a famous Bollywood actor's wife. And Rituparno Ghosh was an exceptional director with multiple award winning films to his name in 2006, with Utsab, Choker Bali & Raincoat. So I was not sure what to expect.

The phone rang and someone picked up. I asked for Rituparno and was told to wait. The phone must have been placed on a table as I could hear the morning street noise heard on most Indian streets. Those street noises of passing cars, horns, vendors and birds chirping allowed me to calm my nerves a bit. After a brief passage of time, Rituparno came on the phone and his calm soothing voice immediately put me at ease. He was incredibly polite and so respectful. Even though he was not aware of CIFF, he didn't hesitate about having his film premier at our festival. In fact, he even talked about flying over to present his film but that didn't happen as our festival dates didn't mesh with his schedule. Rituparno put me in contact with the film's production company, Planman Motion Pictures, who were exceptionally co-operative and friendly in flying the film over. I never interacted with Rituparno after that and never got a chance to tell him how much our audience loved his film.

Rituparno Ghosh's films have a poetic touch to them, with some films depicting riveting dialogue one often finds in plays. Plus, he also managed to extract some memorable performances from Prasenjit Chatterjee, Konkona Sen Sharma, Raima Sen, Kiron Kher, Amitabh Bachchan, Annu Kapoor, Ajay Devgn and Aishwarya Rai Bachchan. He will be sorely missed.


Sam Juliano said...

Very sad news indeed Sachin. I can't say I am familiar with his work, but only because that's a discovery yet to be made. How young and what a loss to the film community. Beautiful tribute.

Sachin said...

Thanks for your kind words Sam. I do hope you get some see some of his films.