Heading: Insightful look into the ‘art’ of a filmmaker
Film: Bird of Dusk
Cast: Rituparna Ghosh, Soumitra Chatterjee, Prosenjit, Aparna Sen, Soumik Datta, Arhgya, Konkona Sen Sharma, Nandita Das
Director: Sangeeta Datta
Rating: * * * ½
The title for this documentary on Rituparno Ghosh (1961-2013) based on his book ‘First Person,’ comes from writer/painter Abanindranath Tagore’s (Tagore’s Nephew) famous work. An assemblage of evocative images, poignant insights and rhyme serenaded by a lustrous background score by Soumik Datta, this work from author/musician/filmmaker Sangeeta Datta (author of text on Shyam Benegal, associate director on Choker Bali, Director of Documentary ‘The Way I See It’ and feature ‘Life Goes on’) is basically an ode to the brilliant filmmaker whose grasp of the female psyche and empathy with characters, is unparalleled in Indian cinematic history.
The narrative journeys between film clips from Ghosh’s seminal work as director/actor and photographs and footage from Ghosh’s professional life – with inputs from technical collaborators and actors who were deemed close to him. Throughout the ensuing articulation of the cinematic process and the gifted filmmaker’s prolific journey, one thing is blindingly clear – his sense of intimate aesthetics within frames and sequences was second to none.
The film goes on to enlighten the viewer about his adulation of Aparna Sen, his love-hate relationship with Prosenjit, Sharmila Tagore and Nandita Das, his attempts to go National by appropriating Bollywood stars, his various phases as a filmmaker and the widespread appreciation of his works in Berlin and other European film festivals. Unfortunately, the film does not venture into his personal life, preferring to gloss over his relationship with his parents, his effeminate sartorial sense and eventual coming out.
Soumitra Chatterjee reads a passage from Rituparna’s book, Arjun Ramphal speaks about his equation with the director during the making of ‘The Last Lear,’ Konkona Sen Gupta speaks on how he got her to act in ‘Titli’ while DJ Mir plies a memorial radio-talk on the Legend. Many of his important collaborators have been left out and his personal life has been omitted altogether- even so, this film gives us enough of a glimpse into the heart of his creative genius and therefore makes it a worthy memorial that is both interesting and enrapturing!