The Kolkata-born writer, director, activist and literary figure – just 49 years of age at the time of his untimely death – was widely recognized as the spiritual successor to the legendary Satyajit Ray.
Now the life and work of this creative genius is set to be celebrated at the 16th annual Tongues on Fire London Asian Film Festival (LAFF) to be held in June across the British capital: a city which held particular affection for Ghosh.
The Festival – Europe’s oldest and most respected showcase for independent South Asian cinema – will hold screenings of three of Ghosh’s most critically acclaimed films and a series of discussions on the filmmaker’s immeasurable contribution to Indian cinema.
The tributes will begin with a screening of ‘Chitrangada’, Ghosh’s seminal 2012 drama based on the story of the character of the same name from the Hindu epic ‘Mahabharata’.
The film was written and directed by Ghosh who also took on the central role of Rudra Chatterjee, a young choreographer whose struggles with social conventions, gender identity and sexuality mirrored Ghosh’s personal battles.
‘Chitrangada’ will be screened on Sunday 1 June at the Institute of Contemporary Arts, a venue synonymous with Ghosh’s numerous jaunts to London.
The screening is organized in collaboration with the In-Focus Film Society, a new London-based film club that aims to encourage film culture among younger audiences.
Ghosh’s close filmmaker friend and founder of the Society, Sangeeta Datta says: “Rituparno Ghosh was considered the true inheritor of Satyajit Ray in the Bengali film industry. A hugely gifted and prolific writer-director, Ghosh literally churned out a film every year and 12 of his 18 films have won National awards. As a writer, editor of a Bengali journal, TV host, fashion icon and gay activist Rituparno Ghosh will be considered one of the most influential cultural icons of contemporary Bengal.”
LAFF 2014 will also feature a special screening of ‘Jeevan Smriti’ on 11 June at London’s Nehru Centre.
The film was Ghosh’s last completed feature and was his personal tribute to the iconic Bengali poet Rabindranath Tagore, a man whose work Ghosh has repeatedly credited as his first and most important source of artistic inspiration.
The sumptuously photographed film sees Ghosh – whose previous adaptations of Tagore’s works included the Aishwarya Rai-starrer ‘Chokher Bali’ and ‘Noukadubi’ – travel to Tagore’s birthplace in West Bengal to shed his own unique perspective on the man behind the limitless legend widely known as ‘Gurudev’.
The London Asian Film Festival’s wide ranging tribute to Ghosh will culminate Friday 13 June at the Watermans Theatre in West London with a screening of the director’s National Award-winning Shakespearean drama ‘The Last Lear’ starring Amitabh Bachchan, Priety Zinta and Arjun Rampal.
LAFF founder Pushpinder Choudhary says: “In so many ways Rituparno Ghosh was ahead if his time in the themes he chose to explore in his films, stories which, without his vision, would have remain untold. I’m thrilled that we will be able to pay home to his immense talent.”