If the pride of Bengal, Rituparno Ghosh has not stopped fuming and laughing (depending on his mood) since Monday evening- it is with reason. Rituparno who was in Goa for the 40th International Film Festival Of India as a jury member for survey-based book compiling the 20 best Indian films of all times, was shocked when, at a function in Goa to announce the historic book, he was led to a seat marked Rituparna Sengupta alongside Riya Sen.
Before Rituparno, who breezed in wearing a chic black suit, flaming-red scarf and oversized sunglasses at 7 pm looking in his own words “very European", could react to this gender and identity confusion, there was more insult waiting to be added to his injury. Ritu"s other colleagues on the jury for the book T 20 were all given VIP space at the event, while Rituparno was expected to sit with the starlets.
When asked about the mortifying incident Rituparno laughs and says he could now see the humorous side of it. “But it wasn"t funny that evening. It wasn"t so much the fact that I was mistaken for Rituparna Sengupta that offended me. I"m used to being mistaken for her. In fact producers in Bengal have called me up offering roles meant for her. And I certainly didn"t mind sharing a seat next to Riya who"s like a sibling. No. What really got me worked up was the fact that the other members on the T 20 Jury, Vishal Bhardwaj, Madhur Bhandarkar and Rahul Dholakia and some renowned regional directors (Nagesh Kukunoor who was also on the jury didn"t turn up) were all given a VIP enclave for themselves. That really was offensive."
Ritu refused to sit on the seat marked for Rituparna Sengupta and remained standing until he was seated with his fellow jury-members. Says Ritu, “It was Riya who helped sort out the matter. I insisted that all the jury members including the regional directors like me, be seated all together. That"s what protocol demanded." Rituparno insists that the ghastly confusion of identity at the festival had nothing to do with the way he dresses. “It"s a common thing. I"m being mistaken for Rituparna Sengupta all the time even in Kolkata. When I was directing her in Dohan people would wonder which was the director and which the actress. In fact, recently I was offered the role of a female cop in a Bengali film meant for her."
Incidentally, the book T 20 which couldn"t be readied in time for the Goa film festival has three Bengali films as the Top 3 among the 20 best Indian films of all times. Says Ritu, “As a Bengali filmmaker I feel very proud that Ritwick Ghatak"s Meghe Dhaka Tara, Satyajit Ray"s Charulata and Ray"s Pather Panchali were selected as the first, second and third best Indian films, not just by us jury members, but also by popular vote. Bengal has always been a rallying-point for cinema of substance. Now if only people would get the difference between Rituparna Sengupta and Rituparno Ghosh."