By Subhash K Jha
To lose a friend, a dear friend, so suddenly is not a easy thing to deal with. On hearing of of Rituparno Ghosh’s sudden death all his friends in Kolkata went into shock on Thursday morning.
Sujoy Ghosh, whom Ritu turned into an actor to play the Bangla detective Bhyomkesh, was desperately trying to arrange an air ticket to Kolkata. “It’s so sudden.I can’t believe Rituda is gone!” Sujoy said.
Ritu’s closest friend the Bangla heart-throb Prosenjit who worked in several highly-acclaimed film with his director-friend, sobbed uncontrollably. “It’s so sudden. He was all right until midnight on Wednesday night. On Thursday morning he was gone. This can’t be true.”
Arjun Rampal, who got a career-defining role in Rituparno’s The Last Lear, was in transit on the way to the US with his family for a holiday when the news reached him.
After the initial response of shock and disbelief Arjun said, “Just the other day I was asked to name the people who made the biggest difference to my career and Ritu was on top of the list. He took keen interest in my work right till the end. He called me up after seeing Chakravyuha and Inkaar and praised my performance. Before we worked together in The Last Lear, he was critical of my choice of films. ‘What are these films that you are doing?’ For The Last Lear we went through a month of intense preparation, and I could feel this change in me as an actor. I remember I had this big important scene with Mr Bachchan and the way Ritu worked in it, fine-tuned it and finally shot it was something else. He would push me beyond the boundaries to make me realize my potential. Within a year I’ve lost two people from whom I’ve learnt a lot. First, Ashok Mehta and now Rituda. Sad. My holiday is ruined. My wife is trying to console me saying he went because he had to go. But why should I not feel sad? I am glad I feel a sense of loss when I lose someone who matters to me. If I didn’t I’d be convinced I am totally desensitized. I regret not meeting Rituda for a long time.”
The shock was palpable even in Mumbai. Jackie Shroff, who had worked with Ritu in Antar Mahal, said, “Rituda’s going is a loss to the entire film industry. We’ve lost an invaluable artiste.”
Raakhee Gulzar, who worked with Ritu on the whodunit Shubo Mahurat, recalls him fondly. “What a talented boy!And so driven. He was specially good with his female characters probably because he was in touch more with his feminine side.I had a wonderful time working with him. Why did he have to go so early when his best was clearly in front of him?”
Manisha Koirala, who worked with Ritu in Khela and Antar Mahal, was stunned on getting the news in New York.
“I’m extremely sad to hear Rituda is no more.He was a sensitive director and a really nice person. I loved working with him. In fact his film unit had become family to me. Indian cinema has lost an able director. It’s a great loss for all of us. I wish his soul journeys into bliss,” Manisha said.