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regular-article-logo Sunday, 25 February 2024

Sangeeta Datta’s Bird of Dusk is a moving docu film on Rituparno Ghosh’s creative genius

The 96-minute documentary that released in theatres in 2019 is now streaming on Hoichoi

Agnivo Niyogi Calcutta Published 02.06.23, 02:55 PM
A photo of Rituparno Ghosh in Sangeeta Datta’s documentary Bird of Dusk

A photo of Rituparno Ghosh in Sangeeta Datta’s documentary Bird of Dusk Hoichoi

Bird of Dusk, directed by Sangeeta Datta, is an introspective and moving documentary on the life and artistic journey of acclaimed filmmaker Rituparno Ghosh. The 96-minute film explores in depth Rituparno’s creative process, personal struggles and the profound impact he made on Indian cinema.

One of the most striking aspects of Bird of Dusk, named after a painting by Abanindranath Tagore, is its ability to capture the essence of Rituparno’s artistic vision and the evolution of his craft. There is a seamless weaving of the filmmaker’s weekly columns in a daily newspaper (First Person) and interviews with his family, friends and colleagues, offering insights into his multifaceted personality and creativity. Through rare behind-the-scenes footage and clips from his films, viewers gain a deeper understanding of Rituparno’s artistic choices and the themes that permeated his work.

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Datta’s directorial approach is sensitive and empathetic, allowing the audience to feel an intimate connection with Rituparno and his struggles. Among the many things that she does successfully is spotlighting Rituparno’s unwavering determination to present stories authentically, challenging social taboos and encouraging dialogue. Datta follows transgender actor Ranjan Bose as he travels across Kolkata to dig up information on Rituparno as part of his research work. Bird of Dusk sheds light on Rituparno’s exploration of gender identity, his fearlessness in challenging societal norms and the impact his work has had on the LGBTQ+ community in India.

The documentary also sheds light on Rituparno’s collaborative process and the deep emotional connections he formed with actors, writers and technicians. It features readings of Rituparno’s writings by the late actor Soumitra Chatterjee, Mir and the filmmaker himself. Prosenjit Chatterjee, Aparna Sen, Sharmila Tagore, Kaushik Ganguly, Nandita Das, Konkona Sensharma and Arjun Rampal share anecdotes on working with the maverick director. Cinematographer Avik Mukhopadhyay, editor Arghyakamal Mitra and music composer Debojyoti Mishra recount their experience of having been an integral part of Rituparno’s cinematic journey. Film curators Cary Sawhney (London) and Dorothee Wenner (Berlin) also feature in the documentary.

Where the documentary falters is in its storytelling style. While the non-linear storytelling approach may add depth and complexity, the lack of cohesion in the narrative elements feels somewhat fragmented at times.

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