Rituparno Ghosh: The Brave Narrator
“Rituparno Ghosh” cannot be defined by the dozen of National Awards, or the international recognitions he received. He lived and died in paradoxes.His presence meant uneasiness to a section of the society, observes Siddharth Sivakumar.
(Rituparno Ghosh in Chitrangada)
It was raining in Santiniketan when the news of Rituparno Ghosh’s death reached me.This was supposed to be a sunny summer afternoon, but the clouds, the drizzling rain, and the violent wind that danced on tree tops,were unaware of it. In my mind, the unseasonal weather stood metaphorical of Rituparno’s untimely demise at 49.
The steady down pour, pronouncing a premature separation reminded me of yet another rainy day from Raincoat (2004), a film made by Rituparno inspired by O. Henry’s The Gift of the Magi(1906).Among his several critically acclaimed films, this one was a rare gem in Hindi. Raincoat presented a poignant love story, where economic crisis and fruitless love met fate, depicting the unintelligible ways of life. Instead of tying the story in a neat knot Rituparno kept things open for interpretation.
(Scene from Chokerbali)
Rituparno’s films were instrumental in bringing a change to Bengali cinema by their realistic depictions of interpersonal relationships and urban-educated middle class angst. When he was making his mark in the contemporary film world, we were children who cycled to school. The water-tank we crossed each day bore all sorts of posters including the colourful film-posters. Through him, the inception of anew-wave quite literally washed away the emblematic posters of familial films. We noticed how the bunch of people, who crowded the posters as representatives of a joint family, disappeared slowly.
From his early films such as Unishe April (1994), Dahan (1997), Bariwali (1999), Ashukh(1999) to later films such as SubhoMuhurat(2003) and Dosar (2006),with dexterity Rituparno brought to life an array of characters. With a superior sense of aesthetics at his disposal, the universal human nature as well as emotions and passions that often ignited selfish drifts from socio-moral norms, were dissected and projected onto the screen. They were illuminated like the complexities of the human-body, scrutinized under the bright light of an operation theatre. The masterly use of Silence, an integral part of his operation theatre, also helped Rituparno cut across various minds and mind-sets.
Rituparno was well known for his thoughtful representation of women, and conspicuous was his ability to penetrate the female psyche. While owing to what he calls “the privilege of gender fluidity”, in a conservative nation like ours, Rituparno bravely portrayed the sensitive subject of same sex relationships. His love for dressing himself as a woman made him stand out from the regular crowd. But once, when I spotted him sipping his coffee at Alcha, I realized that it was not his sexual-orientation, but the confidence with which he carried it that distinguished him as a person.
However, through his films explicit sexuality was introduced to the Bengal film industry. Chokher Bali (2003) and Antarmahal(2005) particularly stunned the middle class Bengali movie goers with their frank portrayal of sex. His idea of sexuality on screen was well articulated when he appeared in a Television show to defend the actress Paoli Dam, who was attacked by the conservative Bengali community for explicit frontal nudity in her 2011 film, Chatrak. Rituparno posits that making a film in Bangla does not necessarily imply it to be a regional film. Cinema is a powerful medium that can transcend borders of all sorts, including that of language. And Sexuality in cinema, he believed, should be allowed for the sake ofartistic expression. Rituparno who was deeply influenced by Satyajit Ray was also a serious Tagore scholar. In his 2012 film, Chitrangada - The Crowning Wish,which was based on Tagore’s famous dance drama Chitrangada (1898), Rituparno foregrounds his thoughts on sexuality. This can be seen as Rituparno’s exploration ofhis own sexual identity. Directors tell stories, but seldom, they have the courage to narrate their own stories. In this regards, Rituparno was an exception.
Rituparno was also an unapologetic actor while dealing with cross-dressing or homosexuality. In Kaushik Ganguly's Arekti Premer Galpo and Sanjoy Nag's Memories in March, both of which released in 2010, Rituparno played pivotal gay roles.Rituparno’s career as an actor, a later addition to his life in celluloid, was his attempt to voice the disempowered sexual minorities. Quite naturally it got a mixed reaction from the audience. I remember my experience of watching Arekti Premer Galpo. The hall was empty baring my friends and a large conservative family. While Rituparno romanced his fellow actor we could hear the grand old lady snarling at her middle-aged son for bringing them to see such a “horrible sight”. However, the children like their father watched the film in complete silence.
“Rituparno Ghosh” cannot be defined by the dozen of National Awards, or the international recognitions he received. He lived and died in paradoxes.His presence meant uneasiness to a section of the society, including the Grandma I encountered at the theatre;but there are others, a larger segment, who will find it hard to cope with the lacuna caused by his death. In various walks of life, we pass a lot of people. Some of them we do not know, some are distinctly familiar, while there are some whose presence is ambivalent. We know them, but not to heart’s content. At times, quite ironically Death happens to be the perfect occasion to know more about them.
Seven ex-students of the Society for the Education of the Crippled (SEC) with physical disabilities have come together to display their art works in a show aptly titled, ‘ Living Their Dreams’ at the Hirji Jehangir Art Gallery, Mumbai.
Zarine Chothia, the Vice President of SEC, organizes a show for the students each year with the sole purpose of encouraging the students towards self reliance and economic independence.
Having a range of physical disabilities, these students are taught to become self reliant and work towards a self respecting existence in society. SEC has brought together the works of the ex-students, Bandenawaz Nadaf, Shahnawaz Sheikh, Nitin Bhise, Rahim Khan, Sunil Derkar, Haseeb Chaudhary, and Shubham Rajshekar Paitti for the show.
The paintings are inspired by various established artists and are portrayals of the student’s determination towards freedom.
The show is on view from the 7th of June 2013 to the 9th of June 2013.
Brothers in Arts
An exhibition of paintings, photography and digital art works will be on view at Amdavad ni Gufa, Ahmedabad. The show will take place from the 4th of June 2013.
This two persons show displays paintings, photography works and digital art work by artists, Dharmesh Prajapati and Nikunj Prajapati. Both M S University, Baroda graduates exhibit their paintings, especially portraits, and landscapes. Showcased also are photography works of the two artists, which is unique and innovative.
They have displayed digital art work along with traditional forms of art expressions like paintings and photography.
The show will be inaugurated by RJ Devaki, of Red FM, and the Chief Guest of the show is Ketan Modi, Course Director at Navgujarat Multi Course Training Institute of Photography
The show is on view till the 9th of June 2013.
Some Things can be Black / White
Art Musings Gallery, Mumbai presents a group show of works of seven eminent artists of India today, titled, ‘Black/ White’. The show displays most works which are rendered in monochromatic style. Line drawings, intricate detailing in some and water colour washes in some are seen on most of the paper or canvas works.
The participating artists are Paresh Maity, Jayasri Burman, Laxma Goud, Laluprasad Shaw, T Vaikuntam, Ajay De, Viveek Sharma, Nandan Purkayastha, and Ajay Dhandre.
Paresh Maity’s works are landscapes vary from ghats of Benares, Kerala backwaters to the canals of Venice. Jayasri Burman’s works depict the pantheon of Hindu gods with a lyrical and dream like lyrical quality. Laxma Goud’s work is from his earlier days, etchings prints and water colours, of rural villages and in monochrome grays. Vaikuntam portrays rural Andhra Pradesh. Lalu Prasad Shaw’s draws inspiration from nature and his still-lifes and portraits are well composed and serene. Ajay De’s uses his trademark black interspersed with blobs of blue and red paint, depicting Ganesha and Mother Teresa. Viveek Sharma’s captures the enduring Mumbaikar’s life in a biographical way. Nandan Purkayastha’s in black and white have depth and dimension. Ajay Dhandre’s work captures meticulous details, giving the paintings a science fiction perspective making them specimens for observation.
The show begins on 3rd of June 2013 and will be on view till 15th July 2013.
A Riot of Colour and Form
The Artist’s centre, Mumbai presents a solo show of works by artist Abdul Moujan. The show commenced on 27th May 2013.
The works on display are figurative in style and rendered primarily in acrylic on canvas. The figures in the paintings often seem to be in deep conversation with each other and the elements incorporated into the visual subtly. The gentle interpersonal relationships are brought to the fore by subtle suggestion by the artist. The figures appear rustic and village folk, untouched by the urban hand.
The show focuses on human relationships and their complexities. The paintings are rendered in vibrant and rich colour, giving them an instant folk art appeal yet contemporary in style. The canvases appear to be a riot of colour and form yet maintaining a quiet serenity.
The show is on view till the 2nd of June 2013.
(News Reports by Sushma Sabnis)