Ram Kamal Mukherjee column: Society is more accepting of LGBTQIA community now

Rituparno Ghosh... He was so colourful. One of the most fashionable Bengali directors... A fabulous orator, well-read and he had an amazing sense of confidence. I have seen him as a strict disciplinarian and also as a caring human being.

Extremely moody, borderline rude, but he knew his craft like no one else. He was the first director to bring the audience back to the theatre with Unishe April. He is probably the only regional director who worked with maximum Bollywood celebrities.

Yes, I interacted with the late filmmaker many a time. My most memorable meeting was at Pritish Nandy’s office when I was working with a tabloid in Mumbai. As soon as we wrapped the interview (PNC produced Khela) he requested we go for a walk at Maine Drive. My staff photographer followed us... he enjoyed the sea.

He looked on to the side opposite the sea and said, Somudra’ta ki sundor... dekh dekh! (The sea is so beautiful...look there) I was surprised.. I told him that he was not even looking at the sea. He smiled and replied, Dhur... jono somudra... manusher dheu, anchre pora swapno! (Silly, I am talking about the sea of the human being, the waves of dream and everything that ends!) And then he would immediately change the topic and demand, ‘Give me gossip na!’

Season’s Greetings, my film on Rituparno Ghosh is a homage. It is not a biopic. There are many elements from Ritu da’s film which you will figure. It’s almost like a treasure hunt for cine aficionados. For example, the house in which my protagonist stays is called Utsab. Apart from materialistic reference you will also find ideologies, music and character references from Ritu da’s films.

Ram Kamal Mukherjee column: Society is more accepting of LGBTQIA community now

Speaking about the aspects of Ritu da’s life and work which I feel understanding and empathy for, first would be his honesty. He was blunt and that’s the reason why people loved him and hated him at the same time.

I don't want to take any names, but a superstar had once mentioned, ‘I hate the person for his honesty, but I love him for craft.’ This happens with most creative geniuses. He was definitely one. His voice for the LGBTQIA community helped many people come out of the closet. He would somewhere be an inspiration to those who feared to talk about their sexual preference.

The film has become India’s first film to have official collaboration with United Nations under the Free & Equal for LGBTQIA cause. It is a huge honour and definitely helps us in reaching out to the right audiences globally. United Nations Free and Equal will not only have screenings in various parts of the world, but will also talk about the film at global conferences.

I had to go through layers of scanners to finally get their approval. But when they replied saying that it’s a film that they want to be a part of, it made me feel that somewhere probably I have made a film that the LGBTQIA community will appreciate. But I would give credit to Celina Jaitly Haag, who introduced me to United Nations and helped me throughout. 

The abolishment of article 377 would have meant a great deal to Ghosh. And it’s an important part of the narrative in Season’s Greetings. Just to give you a hint, the film starts on September 5 and ends on September 6. 

Society is now more accepting of members of the LGBTQIA community. In fact, we have Shree Ghatak, a transgender actor playing the role of the house help in the film. She is a wonderful human being, married and happily settled in life.

My lead actors Celina Jaitly Haag and Lillette Dubey bonded very well with her. Now even Bollywood is making interesting content, unlike caricatures. We worked with people who had different sexual preferences in their personal life, but that didn’t make any difference. Times are changing.

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