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Sunday, July 22, 2018

Rituparno Ghosh left a void in the world of progressive work: Amitabh Bachchan

Big B said Rituparno Ghosh was constructing a story for him and Jaya Bachchan.

Written by Entertainment News Service | New Delhi | Published: May 31, 2013 1:24:50 pm

Bollywood megastar Amitabh Bachchan paid tribute to late Bengali filmmaker Rituparno Ghosh on his blog

Rituparo Ghosh,who died of cardiac arrest on the morning of May 30,had worked with Amitabh Bachchan in The Last Lear

Amitabh Bachchan wrote:

Rituparno Ghosh,that young and most respected director from Bengal,passed away this morning .. suddenly,and most unexpectedly ! It has been extremely shocking for all of us and indeed the entire film fraternity,at this most rude and unbelievable news. 49 years is no age to die,but Ritu Da as we affectionately called him has gone,and left a huge void in the world of some of the most progressive work done in recent times.

I did “The Last Lear” with him. And this came about after years of meetings and mutual desire to work together. It was done in English. The story of a not too successful stage artist who performs Shakespeare,now almost living in seclusion,approached by a film maker to act in his film. Stage,Theatre and Film have had a perennial attitude with each other. The theatre always giving more importance to their craft as opposed to the film makers,yet finding the popularity and commerce of cinema,larger and therefore almost offensive. Theatre is a more difficult craft and those that have through the ages been committed to it,have always had a point of discontentment with the other form,called moving pictures !

It is true that the instant connect,the writing and the level of performances demanded from a stage actor has been immensely more difficult,perhaps more satisfying,and one that has always invited immediate reaction from a live audience. This in particular has had a distinct charm of its own. Reconciling to the fact that because their stint has not been as appreciated as it should have been,and now having to face,almost an embarrassing situation where perhaps for survival a compromise may have to be made,is what the main construct of ‘Last Lear’ was as far as my character was concerned. The tragic ending,ironically insisted upon by the character to perform a dangerous stunt in the ‘film’,came from the arrogance of the actor from stage of not succumbing to a duplicate doing something that he was supposed to do. He pleaded for that moment with the film director,even begging of him on bended knees in a drunken stupor.

There were of course those wonderful moments constructed in the film,where in order to impress the film director of his theatrical presence and performance he plays portions of Shakespeare,to a most astonished and overwhelmed film man,within the confines of his drawing room,now furnished with several memories of his stage days.

The obsession with Shakespeare and the English language as spoken in its purity,was one of the characters obsessions. Often I had observed through the years of being in close proximity to some great theatre artist that they,never seemed to leave the stage as it were,even when they were off it ! The tone and speech of their character on stage was replicated in real life too. I felt it needed to be played so,and Ritu Da did not disagree. So in their daily existence,the speech style and movements and delivery of the spoken normal conversation was what they were with on stage !

For all practical purposes,the character was a Bengali. In actual fact as the back story goes,he was from Bihar,but settled in Bengal and so one typical of the region. His speech throughout was that of an affected British stage performer. But that was a put on. On occasion,when he had indulged in more than his quota of the pricy and exclusive Scotch,he would be his Bengali self. The tone of his delivery,slurred,but never far away from the common man’s Bengali English,which,if you have spent sufficient time in Kolkata,would not be too difficult to identify.

As a writer and a director,Ritu Da was pat on in recreating this world for the character and how his life unfolds with all the other very important people that come into his life. I found that each of the artists that performed in the film were all exceptional – a joy for any actor to be in their company.

Ritu Da was well planned and understanding of the needs of actors on set. In a most tiny little space he and his efficient DOP would at times have a three to four camera set up,so that there was a continuity of performance in a particular scene. He was never rigid in his directions to the artists and rather enjoyed the impromptu additions that actors tend to make at times.

The unit spoke in Bengali,which was a joy,for it gave us all an opportunity to pick up the second most sweetest language in the world. The first being French. At the end of a days work he would call Jaya and share a laugh at all the wrong pronunciations that I was making in my Bengali. But he was essentially a delight to work with. Challenging,gently pushing for a correction,giving immense liberty to the actor on set without any interference,and readily accommodating any peculiar demands that most actors often tend to make when they are facing the camera.

I had wished him on his birthday some months back. He had wished Jaya on hers last month and they spoke of doing a film together,as did he with me too some weeks ago,of a story he was constructing for us to work together in.

Yesterday,Sujoy Ghosh,of ‘Kahani’ fame and me had sat together to finalise our project that we are planning together,and a large portion of the conversation was about Ritu Da – Sujoy having just returned from Kolkata,after finishing the shooting of a film with Ritu Da,where he,Sujoy,is an actor. And this morning …

Fatima our dear Ef from SaF has lost her aunt today too. Very sad,because she had messaged for prayers for her which I did,a few days back.

Life is just beyond explanation …

May all that suffer be filled with the strength of our thoughts and prayers …

Amitabh Bachchan

PS : the other distressing news that I was wanting to comment on Twitter was that Shanouk is very very ill. Shanouk is,as you know my lovely Piraña Dane. His heart is giving way,water is collecting in his stomach and he is in serious condition. We revived him today at the vet by sedating him and pumping out the excess water collected,but things are not looking good ! Sad !

He was named Shanouk by Abhishek,who had read this expression somewhere. Shanouk in American Indian means … ‘a gentle warm breeze,on a cold morning’ …

He has always been that to us …


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