Ritu to act in gay film
Rituda plays a gay director who isn’t overtly effiminate
Why did you want to make Chhaya Chhobi on a gay director?
There was a person from my unit who belonged to the third gender. Having
interacted with him, I realised that he lived a very lonely life. It’s almost an accepted way of life to mimic such people on television shows. I personally feel that those who laugh at such mimicry are simply uneducated. A person can be nyaka. But being a homosexual is his biological authority. I remember dealing with this subject in my telefilm titled Ushnatar Jonnyo. The response was phenomenal. I had cast Debasish, who belonged to the third gender, as the young Sarada Shundor there. When Debasish died, I thought it was simply out of loneliness. I was heart-broken. My film is primarily a love story between a homosexual director and a bisexual cinematographer. I’m exploring the firm and steady relationship that they share.
How did you broach the subject of Rituparno Ghosh playing the gay director in your film?
I felt that just any actor trying to play a gay director would leave chances for the performances to again turn into a mimicry. They could turn the portrayal into another caricature. Rituda had told me that he had liked Jackpot. At a meeting, I told him about wanting to make a film on different lines. After I narrated the story, he asked me whether I had thought of anyone in particular to play the gay director, Neel. Instinctively, I said it would be nice if he played Neel. Immediately, there was a silence and then, he walked out of the room only to return after a while to ask me whether I was serious. Moments later, he said he’d do the role. Having seen the way he extracts performances from even non-actors, I have no doubts that he’ll be a very good actor.
How distant is Neel from Rituparno Ghosh in real life?
There is absolutely no resemblance that Neel shares with Rituda. I’m only interested in sharing Ritu’s philosophy and sensibility towards gays and not suggesting anything else through my casting.
How do you present the character as gay? Would it be through dialogues or clichés in terms of body language that most Hindi films tend to do? Would Neel wear kajol, flaunt dupattas?
No, Neel doesn’t wear kajol or bindis. Neel isn’t apologetic about being gay.
Would he be shown as effeminate or otherwise, like Sean Penn in Milk?
Neel has an androgynous look. Hence, Rituda would be playing a gay character who isn’t overtly effeminate. Portraying gays only as effiminate is a very superficial way of looking at things. I understand that while there is a huge section of gays who naturally speak in a certain way, it’s not always fair to typecast gays that way.
Would you be brave enough to show two guys kissing, the way they’ve done in Milk?
I haven’t watched Milk yet. Let’s understand that the passion involved in a relationship between a gay and bisexual is no less or more than that other couples share. I will try to aesthetically show their physical intimacy. But there will not be any kissing scene though I maintain that the act of kissing has a certain amount of divinity to it. I don’t wish to titillate the audience with gays smooching in front of the camera. Intimacy will be shown keeping the tolerance level of the audience in mind.
Is Rahul Bose playing the bisexual character?
No. We are still in the process of finalising that. While Raima Sen plays a research student, Churni has been cast as the wife of this bisexual character.
Does Churni’s character accept her husband’s sexual preferences?
Her character is modern and understanding.