To captivate the genius of Rituparno Ghosh within the realms of a few words would be a feat I can never excel in. It has been two years since he passed on. But his works, which will be alive forever, will continue to inspire generation of filmmakers. His demise was a personal loss for all his fans, because his films had a personal appeal. He ushered in a new wave in Bengali cinema and was an extremely gifted writer.
Ritu da’s talent lay in his scene-building and the eye for detail that was evident in every frame of his film. His characters were believable, people we could relate to. The issues highlighted in his films were also mundane, not out of the ordinary. There was an element of straightforwardness in him which reflected in the characters he wrote. There was no veil of pretension.
He had only embarked on a new journey in the filmmaking process – with his quasi-autobiographical Chitrangada – when he left us! The void he has left lies unfilled even now; his shoes are too big for anyone to fill.
Here are five movies by the maverick director which will always be close to my heart:
An adaptation of Agatha Christie’s ‘The Mirror Cracked from Side to Side”, this film is so Bengali at heart that Christie might herself might wonder in her grave if she actually set the original story in England. Rangapishima (Ritu Da’s Miss Murple, played by a brilliant Rakhee Gulzar) is a simple middle-aged widow with extra-ordinary observational skills. Her niece Mallika (Nandita Das) is a journalist who gets embroiled in the murder of an actor. The film which won Sharmila Tagore a National Award deals with intricacies of relationships and complexities of the human mind. Ritu Da’s first “thriller” which can give a lot of mindless, B-grade pot-boilers a run for their money even today.
A film about a joint family that meets for Durga Pujo and skeletons from the past come to haunt them. Starring a galaxy of stars, the film is essentially a bedroom-drama. Despite being dialogue heavy, not once would feel bored. A quintessential Rituparno film, the story deals with sibling-love, ups and downs of conjugal life, dynamics of relationships and the dark secrets of the human mind – all against the backdrop of Durga Puja festivities. The juxtaposition of festivities and sorrows of life only add to the brilliance of the film. Rituparno once again proves that key to making a good film is not extravagance but simplicity.
This is a film which is very close to my heart. A film about a director and his muse, Rituparno tries to deal with the question, given a choice what would we choose? Sophistication or Unsophisticated spontaneity? With a memorable performance by Ananya Chatterjee (which won her the National Award), Ritu Da fulfills his wish of making a film on Noti Binodini. The last scene of the film describes film-making as “capturing fleeting moments in a frame”. Rituparno Ghosh breathed a soul into the frames with Abohoman.
When I watched this movie, I had a major crush on Konkona Sen Sharma. That did not stop me from admiring Prosenjit’s spellbinding performance. For major part of the film, he is bed-ridden, in a hospital or at home. He communicates with his silence. Three stories woven into each other give us an insight into adultery, without being moralistic or preachy even once. The breach of trust, mending bridges and the rejuvenation of ties – all communicated without being judgmental. Black and white filming and almost complete lack of background score is the USP of Dosar.
“Poetry in motion” is the best phrase to use for this beautiful film. Set in the idyllic locales of Darjeeling, Titli is about a teenage girl who has a crush on a popular actor. Fate brings her face to face with the man of her dreams, only to acquaint her with some unpleasant truths from the past. It is a treat to watch Aparna Sen and Konkona play mother and daughter in reel life too. Mithun Chakraborty’s measured acting will make you his fan.
I could go on and on and write a line or two about all 20 films Ritu da made. But now is not the time. Hope you love watching these films. After all, what better way to remember a filmmaker than watching his works?
When I first read in the newspapers that Konkona Sen Sharma was going to play Kadambari opposite Parambrata Chattopadhyay (Rabindranath Tagore), I was thrilled. It seemed to be a dream come true; Konkona was just perfect for the role. The enigma that Rabindranath-Kadambari Debi’s relationship is, it was natural to have an insatiable urge to watch it on the big screen. But when I left the theatre this evening after 2 hours and five minutes, I was disappointed.
Kadambari – the film – is pretentious. It tries to create a make-believe world of late nineteenth century only through props and dated costumes. The script is sloppy, given the fact it is based on two great novels: Sunil Gangopadhyay’s Prothom Alo and Mallika Sengupta’s Kobir Bouthan. The dynamics of relationships – between Kadambari and Jyotirindra, between Jyotirindra and Gyanodanandini, between Gyanodanandini and Rabindranath or between Gyanodanandini and Kadambari – left a lot to be explored.
The film has several anachronistic loop holes. Even the age-difference between Jyoti (or Gyanodanandini) and Kadambari is glaring during the childhood sequence. The child actors are wasted as they seem to have been forced to parrot their lines (did they not grasp the gravity of their roles?).
If anyone has read Thakurbarir Andarmahal (or even its English translation Jorasanko), they would be fascinated by the aura of Gyanodanandini. Titas Bhowmick was a disappointment of epic proportions in the role. Her character was reduced to that of a manipulative vamp in a saas-bahu saga. Even Kaushik Sen was overrated as the supremely talented Jyotirindranath Tagore.
Although Parambrata was unconvincing as the young Rabi, his chemistry with Konkona was brilliant. In fact, it was the sheer talent of Konkona that pulls this film through 120 odd minutes. The blank expression of shock after Urmila’s death or the marks of jealousy on her face when she learns about Binodini can become text book case for what flawless acting is.
Apart from Konkona, Bickram Ghosh’s background score saves the day for the film. Beautiful recreation of Rabindranath’s timeless creations will leave you spellbound. Hats off to Ustad Amjad Ali Khan for the ethereal title track. Having said that, I really want to know what prompted the director to use Babul Supriyo’s voice for the end credits when Srikanta Acharya was part of the film!
At the end of the day, the director may have unwittingly described the relationship between Rabindranath and Kadambari Debi in one of the scenes, without meaning to. When Kadambari confronts Jyoti over his affair with Binodini, he replies she is only a muse and not his lover. Kadambari may have been the same for young Rabi? May be more than that… Only history will be the judge.
As for the fictional biopic on Kadambari, Konkona outshines a sloppy script and B-grade film.
My rating: 2/5 stars
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