According to sources, Rituparno Ghosh, described as a "gay icon" in the International Business Times, died today of a massive heart attack at his home in his native Kolkata, India. During his filmmaking career, that spanned nearly 20 years, he directed about 20 feature films in the Bengali language, "mostly dealing with the dilemmas of India's urban middle class," as the Guardian explains, and his 2007 film, The Last Year, was in English and centered on a retired actor who is persuaded to return to cinema to reprise the lead role in a production of Shakespeare's King Lear.
Interesting to note, he was also an actor and, in the movie Chitrangada, he portrayed a transgender person in an "unusually frank depiction of a part of Indian society largely shunned by the mainstream, particularly by the conservative film industry."
As an article at the Hindu Business Line explains:
"A champion of gay rights, of late Rituparno had turned a cross-dresser, and carried himself with élan, not caring two hoots about being jeered by the so-called ‘sexual mainstreamers’. He felt that the concept of unisex had been monopolised by women. “Women can wear men’s clothes. The problem arises when men wear women’s clothes. Whatever I wear has always been worn by men. Wearing things like earrings and necklaces has always been a part of our sartorial history and tradition,” he told a newspaper.
In a 2010 interview given by Rituparno after his film Aar Ekti Premer Golpo, about the life of gay Jatra actor Chapal Bhaduri, got rave reviews, and Rituparno played the role of a gay film-maker who is in a relationship with his married director, he stated: "There is much more to such relationships. Same-sex relationships, too, are extremely soulful, emotional and have the same pathos that any heterosexual relationship has.”