Indian Director Rituparno Ghosh Dies at 49

Rituparno Ghosh P

The acclaimed Bengali filmmaker won the Golden Leopard at the Locarno Film Festival in 2003 and had just finished shooting his last film,“Satyaneshi,” two days before his death.

One of Bengali cinema's most acclaimed directors, Rituparno Ghosh, passed away Thursday at his home in Kolkata at the age of 49. Ghosh had been suffering from pancreatitis and died in his sleep due to cardiac arrest, his doctors said.

The son of a documentary filmmaker, Ghosh started his career in advertising in the 1980s and debuted as a director with the 1994 children's film Heerer Angti (The Diamond Ring). Ghosh reflected a new sensibility in Bengali cinema with his critically acclaimed films including Unishe April (19 April), Chokher Bali (Sand in the Eye) and Abohoman (The Eternal), among others. In addition to working with leading talent in Bengali cinema, Ghosh also worked with top Bollywood stars including Amitabh Bachchan (who featured in the director's 2007 English film The Last Lear) and Aishwarya Rai Bachchan (who starred in 2003's Chokher Bali, which was honored with the Golden Leopard at Locarno).

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Ghosh also acted in some of his films, including Aar Ekhti Premer Golnpo (Just Another Love Story) and the ground-breaking Chitrangada -- in which he played a transgender character -- which won a special jury award at the 2012 Indian National Film Awards.

Ghosh had been working on his latest film Satyaneshi, based on a legendary Bengali fictional detective character. Just two days before his death, he posted on Twitter that he had completed shooting the film.

As news of his death spread on Thursday, public figures including politicians and film personalities expressed their condolences.

“We are stunned. In his sudden demise, Bengal has lost an eminent filmmaker. It is a very sad day for us,” the chief minister of West Bengal state, Mamata Banerjee, said.

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“I cannot believe that Rituparna is no more. It is very difficult to accept this news. The void left after his death cannot be easily filled," said Bengali actor Soumitra Chatterjee.

"Shocked by passing of Rituparno Ghosh. He was dreaming of getting into what he called his 'next phase.' Hugely creative explorer on film," director Shekhar Kapur (Elizabeth) posted on Twitter.

“Tragic news of filmmaker Rituparno Ghosh passing away -- so young, so brilliant, a great experimenter in all cinema and life -- a flame dies,” posted director Mira Nair (The Reluctant Fundamentalist).

"Rituparno Ghosh had great sense of humor. He had a brilliant understanding of human behavior. Will miss him and his cinema. RIP my Friend," veteran Bollywood actor Anupam Kher (Silver Linings Playbook) tweeted Thursday.