Why I paid a homage to Rituparno Ghosh!
By Ram Kamal Mukherjee
Rituparno Ghosh migrated from advertising to cinema and he did manage to create what he did in seconds into a couple of hours of engaging cinema. Paying homage to a belletrist and an auteur wasn’t really a cakewalk. Hence for me it is a different kind of homage as a director.
Ideal tributes metamorphose into biopics or transmogrify into a remake of a classic. But I thought of giving him a tribute through multiple ways when I decided to make Season’s Greetings. Suchitra Bhattacharya was Ritu da's favorite author, veteran Tagore vocalist Suchitra Mitra acted in his film Dahan, so I decided to name Lillette ji's character Suchitra. Celina's character Romita was Rituparna Sengupta's name in Dahan, which was a popular novel written by Suchitra Bhattacharya. The house where they stay is called Utsab, which was yet another film by Ritu. The househelp is Chapala inspired from his film Aarekti Premer Galpo (he acted), where he played a transgender filmmaker and enacted life of theatre actor Chapal Bhadhuri. Transgender actor Shree Ghatak plays the role of Chapala in my film.
There is a sequence between Lillette and Celina where they talk about fragrance of a particular perfume, which is inspired from Aparna Sen and Debasree Roy's kitchen scene from Unishe April. Lavish display of food and characters talking over dinner table has been Rituparno's favourite narrative style, which is a part of pre-climax sequence.
Apart from the music of Tagore music - the Maithili language is another aspect which Rituparno often used in his films. There is a portrait of Tagore used in the film from Balmiki Pratibha, which was prominently used as a metaphor in his film Ashukh. Then references like Banalata pishi is from Bariwali, Abhirupa is again Rituparno's character name from Chitrangada.
Rabindranath Tagore's song Gahana Kusum Kunj Majhe, was used in his film Abhohoman, which has been recreated in the film by singers Jaan Kumar Sanu and Sarbani Mukherjee.
In a scene we see Suchitra is reading Devdutt Patnaik's novel Shikhandi. That's again referring to Rituparno's film Chitrangada, a character from the Mahabharata. As a matter of fact, we have also shown the exterior of Rituparno's house Tasher Ghar in Kolkata which only very few people will relate. There are shots of Ardhanarishwar, that depicts the presence of bisexuality since the Vedic age.
The entire character graph of boy child Chapal undergoing sex change and becoming Chapala also talks about his films like Memories of March and Chitrangada. But none of it is underlined, everything is in the subtext. You need to be a Rituparno fan to appreciate or understand.
The scene where Romita talks about unexpected rains and letters from her mother is a fleeting reference to his film Tithli.
And of course, the climax that would jolt you as an audience, and will remind you of Rituparno in a much prominent way.
In fact, the first day and first shot of the movie between Celina and Azhar was shot in Grand Hyatt Presidential suite. After the shot the manager came to meet me. He said, "It's an irony that Rituparno had shot Sob Charitro Kalpanik scene with Bipasha Basu and Prosenjit in the same room!" We knew that Rituda is blessing us from the word 'action'!