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Rituparno Ghosh's films spoke a universal language: Rajeev Masand

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May 30, 2013 at 05:53pm IST

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Eminent filmmaker Rituparno Ghosh has died at the age of just 49. He made 19 films in his career, most of them going on to win multiple National Film Awards. He also brought to the screen several issues regarding sexuality and morality which were long considered taboos in Indian cinema. CNN-IBN's Entertainment editor Rajeev Masand joined IBNLive readers for an interaction on Rituparno Ghosh's contribution to Indian cinema.

Q. How was he different from most Bollywood directors? Asked by: Avinash Thakur

Rituparno Ghosh's films spoke a universal language: Rajeev Masand

CNN-IBN's Rajeev Masand joined IBNLive readers on Rituparno Ghosh's contribution to Indian cinema.

A. I would say there was a rare honesty in the way he portrayed man-woman relationships - and even same-sex relationships subsequently - that you just don't see in Hindi movies. He understood the complexity of relationships and he had this skill of portraying them on screen with great sensitivity.

Q. How is it that Bengal and to some extent Kerala produces the best filmmakers though Bollywood gets all the attention ---one means from Ritwik Ghatak to Rituparno Ghosh, it's a galaxy. Asked by: Komal Rai

A. Indeed Bengal has produced some of the greatest filmmakers of Indian cinema, and Rituparno Ghosh joins that pantheon. Bollywood is flashy and has many fine filmmakers too, but popular mainstream cinema always tends to get more attention.

Q. Do you think he should have directed more Hindi films to reach a larger number of audience? Asked by: Pati

A. I think it is to his credit that he was able to reach out to large audiences even though he worked mostly in Bengali. His films spoke a universal language in that audiences watched them with English subtitles. His emotions were universal, his stories were relatable. He was most comfortable working in Bengali because he set his stories in that milieu and made stories about mostly the Bengali middle class.

Q. Which according to you is the best movie among the ones made by Rituparno and why? Asked by: Ganesh

A. My personal favorites are 'Titli' and 'Bariwali' because they were about complex relationships, they explored emotions that weren't simply black or white, and because he drew out remarkable performances from his female protagonists in both films. He armed his women with a great combination of vulnerability and strength.

Q. Do you think his later movies lacked the freshness than his earlier movies. His later movies like Chitrangada and One more love story were a manifestation of his mental conflict with the society. Asked by: ss

A. I don't think any other filmmaker had the variety of ideas that Rituparno Ghosh did. His plots were original and inventive and they dealt with real people and real relationships. 'Chitrangada' was based on a Tagore writing, and Just A Love Story was not directed by him. Yet he was very clearly making a point about same-sex relationships and equality and against prejudice. I think he remained relevant throughout his career because he was fascinated by what he saw around him and told stories about real people.

Q. His biggest contribution to Indian cinema? Asked by: Sunil

A. That he made relevant, pressing, important films about the human condition with all its complexities. That he reached out to global audiences with his stories of real three-dimensional people. That he adapted some fine works of literature to the screen. And that he told stories about the Indian middle-class that were uncomfortably honest.

Q. Hi Rajeev..do you think Bengali writers and filmmakers have soul in their films like no other? Asked by: pallavi sakhare

A. I don't like to generalise or make sweeping statements, but Bengal is the cultural capital of India and the artistes who have come out of there have such rich cultural legacies and strong roots in Indian culture that they often make heartfelt and honest films that you don't often get to see, particularly in Hindi films.

Q. So many National awards is certainly not a joke. Is it a loss for Indian cinema apart from the obvious one to Bengali cinema? Are there other filmmakers who can take over the mantle? Asked by: Gurusekhara

A. It is a great loss not just to Bengali cinema but to Indian cinema because Rituparno was a consummate filmmaker whose films spoke a universal language. He conveyed the human experience, he understood the human condition. I can't imagine anyone else taking over his mantle because he was bold and brave and blazingly original. There are many fine filmmakers, but I'm not sure any can step into his shoes.

Q. How will history remember him? Asked by: Anuj

A. History will remember Rituparno Ghosh as a filmmaker who put Indian cinema on the map. As a filmmaker who told honest stories about the human condition, who understood complex relationships and had the skill to portray them with great sensitivity and simplicity. He will be remembered as a filmmaker who created real, full-bloodied female characters on the screen who oozed both vulnerability and strength like all real women do.

Q. Raincoat was a very very good film. Your take? Asked by: nikhil

A. It was a moving story and very well performed by its leads. A simple story, not hard at all to relate with, told simply. Never manipulative but emotionally stirring.

Q. What were the influences on him as a film maker? Asked by: leena

A. He has said many times that Ray was one of the lasting influences in his life, but he was also influenced by non-filmmakers...great liteateurs like Tagore whose work he adapted to the screen more than once.

Q. Which is your personal favourite Rituparno Ghosh film? Asked by: Pawan

A. 'Titli' and 'Bariwali'.

Q. RIP? or RIH (rest in hearts)? Asked by: Deepak

A. That's a good one - RIH.

Q. How you felt when you firstly heard about him? Asked by: sri

A. When I first heard of his passing, I was deeply saddened. It is a great loss and that vacuum can never be filled.

Q. Who do u think can fill the huge vacuum that has been created by Ghosh's death? Can it be filled at all? Asked by: Rajorshi Das

A. I don't think the vacuum can be filled. There will be many fine filmmakers who will come but it's hard to replace someone as versatile and as relevant as him.

Q. I think he was Satyajit ray of our time. Your take? Also was he working on any subject these days? Asked by: Atul

A. Rituparno Ghosh finished shooting his latest film, a detective story based on the character Byomkesh Bakshi just two days ago in Kolkata.

Q. Do you feel that Rituparno should receive a posthumous life time achievement Oscar? Asked by: Deep

A. That is for the Academy to decide. I feel Indian awards functions and the government must come up with a way to honour him even after his passing, and must come up with a way for generations of cinema enthusiasts to know him and remember him even years later.

Q. Your recommendations for his films? Asked by: p.s

A. My favorites are 'Titli' and 'Bariwali' but I would recommend you watch 'Utsab', 'Dosar', 'Khela', 'The Last Lear'. He told heart-wrenching stories with great sensitivity.

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