Apart from your forthcoming film Satyanweshi, and your new documentary on Tagore’s Thakurbari, what other kinds of projects do we see you undertaking in future?
The Mahabharata has always interested me. In fact, I’ve recently been reading a book on the gender constructs in the epic… a chapter dealing with Arjun-Brihannala and Amba-Shikhandi.
Your films often question the discourse of women’s liberation. Although their talents are recognised, they remain passive recipients.
Yes. The irony inherent in a man’s attempt to educate a woman is to make her serve him better. Apparently, the woman who is liberated is actually all the more subjugated by patriarchy. Nothing has really changed.
Do you see yourself actively entering into LGBT activism?
No. An artist need not be an activist, and art doesn’t really need to be political all the time. As an artist, I have been participating in this movement in my own way. You can say my decision to enact queer characters on screen is an expression of my activism. I was aware that I would end up alienating a section of my audience. Even then, I could not be have been dishonest.
How would you identify yourself according to the terms that have become current in the discourse of sexual identity politics - gay, lesbian, bisexual, transgender, transvestite, transsexual, intersex?
Our understanding of sexuality is sadly limited by the binary heterosexuality/homosexuality. I believe, our identities are subject to the body which again is a boundary….I believe in transcending that boundary…the body is in a state of transition, perennially… so, is my identity.
So much is made of your personal life, about your supposed relationships… do you feel disconcerted at times?
People love to speculate about my relationships. They often take it for granted that if I choose to work with a male actor in more than one film, I must be having a relationship with him. People eye with suspicion any man who is seen to socialise with me or work with me. I have got used to it.
Do you consider getting into a serious relationship?
Everyone does. But, I do not know how much one is expected to invest in a relationship to keep it going. It is indeed difficult, for same-sex relationships are still a taboo in our society. It is quite probable that I would barely find anyone who would acknowledge his relationship with me. Plus, people mostly get overwhelmed by my stardom; I do not know whether anyone can love me as just another person, and not as Rituparno Ghosh.
(Kaustav Bakshi is a Kolkata-based academician, blogger and film critic, apart from being one of Rituparno Ghosh’s close friends)