Filmmaker Rituparno Ghosh died on Thursday morning in Kolkata, following a massive cardiac arrest. The 49-year-old, who made critically acclaimed films including Unishey April (1994), Dahan (1997), the Aishwarya Rai Bachchan starrer Choker Bali (2003) and Amitabh Bachchan starrer The Last Lear (2007) had the rare distinction of bagging a record 12 National Awards in his 17-film old career.
Bengali actor and a close friend of Ghosh, Rituparna Sengupta (left), who has acted in some of his award-winning films, speaks about her mentor:
For me, Ritu-da (as she fondly called him) was more than a filmmaker... he was like an elder brother. He’ll scold me, guide me on which film offers to take, and even invite me over for meals at home. Just the other day, he held me back for a lunch of luchi aloor dom. “Kheye ja (dine before leaving),” he’d always say. He loved eating authentic Bengali food.
His gifts too were unique. On my wedding, he gave me this set of Tagore novels, I mean, it’s the best gift one can give! He even designed my wedding attire, and wrote my wedding card! As a filmmaker, he was beyond genius. I started my journey with him 16 years back through Dahan (1997), and it fetched me my first National Award.
He made me believe that there was more to me than my singing-dancing actor tag. In Utsab (2000) too, he crafted my character with immense sensitivity. Women always took a centre stage in his films, and he understood their psychology and emotional conflicts like no other filmmaker ever did.