Director Sangeeta Datta says her documentary feature "Bird of Dusk", is an attempt to showcase filmmaker Rituparno Ghosh's pioneering work on gender neutrality and the representation of alternate sex through his cinema.
Dutta, who collaborated with Ghosh on many films, says "Bird of Dusk", which had it's India premiere at the 20th MAMI Mumbai Film Festival on October 28, is an extremely personal film.
"He will continue to remain relevant. He has a huge filmography of great work. He spoke about gender neutrality and that opened the door for the next generation. Whether it is London or New York or Chicago or here in MAMI, audiences gave a standing ovation to the film and wanted to revisit his work," Datta told PTI.
"If the film is engaging and making younger people involved in his life and work, then the purpose is solved. For instance, Satyajit Ray is still remembered fondly. So there is a need for a retrospective on their work at film festivals," she says.
Ghosh was considered as an icon in the LGBT community and Datta says, she had to handle this aspect in a sensitive way in her film.
"There was so much gossip and speculation about him. In the last three films, he started putting himself on the screen as an actor. I feel he invested in his body, in his physical form to carry out this debate of gender neutrality, about the third gender and alternate sexuality. It was a very courageous thing to do.
"I have seen him early on, and there was prejudice at that time. There was no social acceptance and I have seen people suffer because of that. Ritu remained positive in his life. He opened the door for the next generation," she adds.
Hailing Ghosh's work for the LGBT community, Datta says he has done pioneering work which has been acknowledged.
"We did not plan to do this film, with this judgement of section 377, it happened and it happened at a time when the film is around. It is going to give more political significance to the film."
Calling Ghosh an international filmmaker, Datta says, though he was a recognised and acknowledged for his work, it was his collaboration with Bollywood actors that got him on the map.
"The films in which he brought Mumbai talent (Bollywood actors) to Kolkata and made big films, that gave him pan India recognition."
Datta, has had a long working association with Ghosh as she was an associate director on most of his films from "Chokher Bali", "Raincoat" to "The Last Lear". She has also directed a film called "Life Goes on" featuring Sharmila Tagore, Soha Ali Khan, Om Puri.
She says even before Ghosh passed away, the two were discussing doing a book on his films. Soon after his demise, Datta got down to writing the book and also started work on the documentary feature film.
"He had an important body of work that needed to be archived and spoken about. The documentary will also highlight the relationship between an artist and a city, it is a city (Kolkata) where he lived and died and the city also nurtured his work."
The title, Datta, says, is a reference to a well-known painting by painter Abanindranath Tagore, who is from the Bengal school of art.
"This painting is about a process through which an artist creates something new. It is a reference to the artistic process," she adds.
Datta is thrilled with the response to the documentary-feature film has got at various festivals, including the MAMI Mumbai Film Festival.
(With inputs from agencies.)