Red roses were laid and multi-coloured candles were lit just outside Nandan, the government-owned cultural centre in the heart of the city where people queued up to get a last glimpse of film director Rituparno Ghosh on Thursday evening. Also fluttering was a rainbow flag, the symbol of sexual and gender minorities.
Even as country’s intelligentsia appreciated Ghosh’s exploration of female psyche in his movies, the LGBT (lesbian, gay, bisexual and the transgender) community celebrated his depiction of liberal sexuality both on-screen and off it.
A cross-dresser Ghosh, a gay with an assertive attitude towards his own sexual identity, had become an icon for those sexual minorities, said Malabika, director of Sappho for Equality, a support group for the community which made an effort on Thursday to bring out the LGBT community to express their respect to Ghosh.
“For the sexually marginalized people, death of Ghosh is a great loss. At a time when these people are described largely as worthless and pervert by the society, they found a person who revealed her (Ghosh) sexual orientation and got iconised,” Malabika, who doesn’t reveal her surname, told dna.
Not only for being open about his sexual orientation but Ghosh is also appreciated for bringing out sex as a theme for Bengali movies, something which was frowned upon and left largely untouched even by the connoisseurs of Bengali parallel cinema, said a member of the LGBT community.
Even as Ghosh brought Bollywood’s A-list women stars such as Aishwarya Rai and Bipasha Basu to give his Bengali movies a wider audience and to get bigger budgets from producers and also cast actors such as Amitabh Bachchan or Ajay Devgan to get decent opening for his non-Bengali films, he acted in two movies — Chitrangada: The Crowning Wish (directed by him) and Arekti Premer Galpo (Another Love Story) by Kaushik Ganguly.
In both movies, Ghosh played gay characters faced with difficult and life altering choices. “Not just these two movies, for the community Ghosh would remain a torch bearer for everything he did,” Malabika said.
For Malabika’s organisation and the great LGBT community Ghosh lives on and would continue to inspire those marginalized people to assert their place in the society at large.
“See, we haven’t placed white flowers but red roses, we aren’t exactly mourning,” said Malabika.