The news of the demise of celebrated film-maker and poet Buddhadeb Dasgupta has still not sunk in for him. Director Goutam Ghosh, who calls Dasgupta a friend of 50 years, knew that the latter was not keeping well. “But the news of his death on Thursday morning is too shocking,” he added.
Describing the 77-year-old director as “one of the finest filmmakers of the country”, Ghosh remembers many occasions spent in his company. “From cinema to poetry, we would discuss everything. He would gift me his book of poetry and tell me to recite since he felt my voice would do justice to his lines. I just can’t believe that he is no more,” he said.
Incidentally, it was Dasgupta who had forced him to make his acting debut in his film. In 1981, Ghose had done a film with Mamata Shankar in a film called ‘Dakhal’. “While directing Mamata, I would enact some scenes. She called up Buddha and praised my acting skills. In fact, she also told him that he should approach me for the role in ‘Grihajuddha’. Buddha was pleasantly surprised when Mamata told him how I would enact those scenes for the actors and even insisted that it was difficult for them to do 50% of what I showed them,” he recalled.
That had prompted Dasgupta to get in touch with Ghose. “Initially, I was very reluctant. I think I was also very busy with the pre-production of ‘Paar’ then. I had acted in theatre but wasn’t keen on acting in cinema. But he would have none of it and both Buddha and Mamata reached my residence to convince me,” he said.
That’s how Ghose, in 1982, made his acting debut in ‘Grihajuddha’ along with Mamata Shankar and Anjan Dutt. “He would always tell the unit that I don’t need extra takes since I am myself a cinematographer and know how to walk keeping pace with the trolley. Buddha was trying to develop a new style since the days of ‘Grihajuddha’. We would often get into arguments over why he was doing things a certain way. He would then tell me about wanting to develop a new style. Since I am also a film-maker, I could understand that,” he said.
Ghose also pointed at how Dasgupta used magic-realism in films. “People often describe his films as poetic cinema. But I feel that’s not the right the way to assess. His films touched some elements that were close to poetry, painting and music. That lent a new dimension to his cinema. I feel he got his due respect and recognition,” he said.
Too many memories crowd his mind about spending time with him both in Kolkata and abroad. “Even two months back, we spoke on the phone. He wanted to meet and have another adda session,” he added. Sadly that adda session never happened.
Ghose also insists that Dasgupta’s films should be restored properly for posterity. “It was only after Ray’s demise that the Academy came forward to preserve his works. So many films of Mrinal Sen, Tapan Sinha and Ritwik Ghatak have been lost. The negatives of my ‘Paar’ have been lost. Restoration has been done from a print. I don’t know what is the status of the negatives of many of Buddha’s film. I feel the national and state archives need to take this responsibility to preserve and restore his works. He has made some brilliant masterpieces. His films were regularly screened at Toronto. It is important that his works get preserved,” he said.
Source: Times of India