From my Facebook today:
As all of Facebook that cares now knows, Rituporno Ghosh is no more. I know a lot of people who hated the man’s work viscerally. However, short conversations on the subject revealed that it was the man they were discomfited by, not his works per se. A young member of faculty at a local uni once called him a “bishwo bikhyato gay maal” — a world-famous homosexual person. (Here, ‘world famous’ doesn’t mean what you think it means.)
It is sad — in my personal opinion — that his more recent ouevre gave people an aesthetic reason to bash his sexuality with. It is wonderful to use popular films as a vehicle for rights-activism, but for so doing one must first ensure the watchability of the films. The entire point, after all, is positive outreach. Rituporno’s last films, I’m told, were unwatchable, especially in the context of his earlier excellence. And because they were about LGBTQ lives and rights, it gave people an easy club to bash his entire underlying ideology — his very existence –with. For that reason alone, I wish he hadn’t left us at 49. I wish he had remained to produce ‘mainstream’, beautifully subtle, sensually-shot films about people whom we love to treat as clowns in the light and punching bags in the dark.
Of his earlier films, I would say Bariwali, Raincoat and Shubho Mohorot stand out on these very terms. Shubho Mohorot is the only film I have seen so far — and I am not a film buff — that surpasses the book it was based on [Agatha Christie’s The Mirror Crack’d from Side to Side], although upon reflection one might say the same of Raincoat [based on the principle plot-point of O’Henry’s “The Gift of the Magi“]. I personally quite enjoyed the detailed, sensually appealing ambience of Chokher Bali, the subtitle ‘A Passion Play’, and the dramatically pleasing way in which the original had been adapted for the screen. Perhaps the art director takes a lot of credit for much of that, but it’s Rituporno I’ve always credited.
Now that he is so suddenly gone, I’ll think I’ll miss his sensitivity and sensuousness, but above all, I’ll miss his stubborn refusal to conform to dictates of market and society, even if the result was considerably less than remarkable. Especially in this whirlpool of bombastic mediocrity and hegemonic toeing-the-line that we live in today, rebelliousness is it’s own reward.