Cast: Rituparno Ghosh, Jisshu Sengupta, Anjan Dutt, Dipankar De, Anasuya Majumdar, Sanjay Nag, Raima Sen, Aparajita Auddy & others
Direction: Rituparno Ghosh
Duration: 2 hours 18 minutes
Story: This is a story of choreographer (Rudra) who is staging Tagore’s dance drama Chitrangada and his relationship with a drummer (Partho). Rudra decides to go for sex reassignment surgery to become a woman so that they can adopt a baby. But does this decision help in solving the problem?
Movie Review: You might call it a film that holds a mirror to progressive society that is still fumbling about how to handle homosexuality. You might call it a film that educates without being preachy about same sex relationships. You might even call it a personal film. But at the end of the day, Chitrangada – The Crowning Wish will always remain a film that you will not be able to ignore in the context of Indian cinema.
Merging myth with reality, this Rituparno Ghosh movie throws up a lot of questions, answering a few while leaving the rest open to interpretations. How difficult is it for parents to come to terms with the fact that their son is gay? How difficult is it for a gay man to be told time and again that he ought to see a doctor to cure himself ? And how traumatically hollow is it for a male couple to feel that they will never be allowed to adopt a baby even when they know that biologically they can never have a living product of their love?
While it’s a fact that movies abroad have literally exhausted themselves of dealing with same sex issues, Indian cinema has taken time to catch on to the trend. That alone, however, can’t be a cause for celebration as far as Chitrangada is concerned.
The film stands on the merit of some very powerful performances. Jisshu Sengupta, in the role of a junkie, has delivered one of the finest performances of his career. So has Anjan Dutt. Minimalism is his forte in the role of a counselor, whose patience helps in unfolding and reliving the poignant moments of the protagonist’s life.
Anasuya and Dipankar, in the role of Rituparno’s parents, evoke a sense of empathy that’s relatable. And then, there is Aparajita Auddy, in a very small but noticeable role. Sanjay Nag makes for a good choice in the role of a photographer. Raima, though brief in her presence, delivers according to how the role has been fleshed out for her.
Another very important contribution to this film is that of cinematographer Abhik Mukhopadhyay. After a long gap, he returns to team up with Rituparno and also ensures that Chitrangada is a visual experience as well. Debajyoti Mishra’s choice of songs (don’t miss out Kaushik Desikan’s song), including the background score, is thought-provoking.
But finally, the film belongs to Rituparno. Rubbishing comments that he, by virtue of his understanding of a gay man’s psyche, will portray this role well, Rituparno comes up with an interesting performance. The dilemma of wanting to change from a man to a woman, the selflessness of being able to go under the knife for the sake of love and then face rejection only to be able to reach out to the same person again – it was a tough call for any actor to portray all these on screen.
Certain mannerisms of his might, however, not appeal to the masses. And certainly not to those who are insensitive to the needs of homosexual desires or not evolved enough to the idea of watching physical proximity between two men on screen. For them, the film could seem like an excuse to use the premise of the Chitrangada myth and add a dash of magic realism to finally prove a point.
But for the rest, Chitrangada can be viewed as a film that will help evolve a viewer. The film goes beyond surface level explorations of the dilemma of which gender to use to address a man in the process of being a woman. It questions, as it were, the futility of seeking permanence. And if all this doesn’t excite you, watch the movie for the touching scene of a mother and son when the former says: “I gave birth to this body, which is yours… I have a right to know, whatever goes on in this body. I have a right to know, if it is changing, transforming…”.