Sangeeta Dutta’s ‘Bird of Dusk’ is a eulogy on the noted Bengali filmmaker Rituparno Ghosh. It provides a profound insight into the life and work of the famed director. A documentary on a person, especially someone as colourful and charismatic as Rituparno Ghosh; made by a close collaborator of his, is bound to have an admiring outlook throughout. In that regard, it does not sway from the path of praises.

Interviews, mostly from Rituparno Ghosh’s frequent collaborators, had awed voices gushing about the experiences of working with the director. In some scenes, you would see the interviewees being surrounded by works related to Rituparno. There is no false note in the sequence of celebratory reminiscences. For the film appeared as a celebration of Rituparno. Rituparno’s work, his life and the whole enigma of it.

You would think whether there is an overabundance of high words about the director. High words that almost make apotheosis of the director. The humane side gets a bit shrunk by the presence of this aura, reflected by all present in the film.

High On Films in collaboration with Avanté
Valladolid, 26/9/2011. Rueda de Prensa con Rituparno Ghosh en la Casa de La India. Foto Ricardo Otazo.

Akin to Rituparno, the city of Kolkata is celebrated too. It is expected that the city where an artist resided would play a pivotal role in their art. Therefore, it is completely just and prudent to bring the montages of the city with the artist’s own thoughts on them. But, my only grievance would be, why not show a specific part of the city that holds importance to Rituparno only and not everyone else of the city.

There is Howrah bridge, Kumartuli, Durga Puja, Kalighat, Nandan; places that are shown as dear to Rituparno. But, these places are equally dear to most people living in the city of Kolkata. Perhaps, it would have been a little more personal and subtle to find one specific nook or corner, which is insignificant to the normal eye, but immensely significant to Rituparno.

Despite all this, where the documentary succeeds is in presenting the obvious in a nuanced way. Perhaps predictably, but subtly comes a person whose journey, which is inspired by Rituparno, is shown. This person is another LGBT person. His story doesn’t come in the forefront until the end, even though you know what it is about, there was subtlety, with intercuts of his scenes in perfect places.

The documentary is well made. Editing is immensely important in Documentary. Which scene you show, after another,  sets the tone of it. The intercuts with actual footages from Rituparno’s interviews, clips of his films and well-shot montages of city Kolkata are praiseworthy. The film is beautiful to look at. Despite my qualms above, it is no doubt an accomplished work on an important director and figure of Bengali cinema.

Rituparno in one of his interviews, shown in this film as well, said that film reality and actual reality is different for him. He stayed true to his reality in his works. Sangeeta Dutta’s ‘Bird of Dusk’ does justice to that reality and the world of Rituparno Ghosh.


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