Rituparno Ghosh: The First Queer Star of Bengal

in Module
Published on: 08 July 2020

Sushrita Acharjee

Sushrita Acharjee is a Junior Research Fellow (MPhil) at the Department of English, Jadavpur University. She has published with news websites such as Scroll, The Quint, etc. She has also contributed to the Bloomsbury anthology of essays titled 'Horror Fiction in the Global South: Cultures, Narratives, and Representations'.

Rituparno Ghosh (1963–2013), the gender nonconformist, homosexual Bengali filmmaker, created a space for sexual and gender minorities on the silver screen. With seven national and international awards, he was recipient of a kind of stardom that was unprecedented for any publicly known queer person in Bengal. His films not only contribute to gender sensitisation in Bengal but also champion the cause of India’s LGBTQ+ population. 

Ghosh wrote and directed openly queer characters in his cinema and validated them to his audience by borrowing from native literary tradition and cultural values. His cinema employed Tagore’s lyrics, Brajabuli songs and Vaishnava poetry, borrowed from the myth of Princess Chitrangada, and sought androgyny in the figure of Chaitanya Mahaprabhu, making queer living relatable to his upper-middle-class audience.