Tuesday, November 25, 2008

Rituparno-Mir Face/Off

Much is being said and written about the way Mir was interviewed, and for many, insulted, by Rituparno Ghosh on his show Ghosh & Company. As it is, brickbats are flying thick and fast towards Rituparno for having messed things up for Mir, the most popular RJ in town. There were many uncomfortable questions being raised and many others getting drowned in the angry reactions that followed.

Frankly, I didn’t find anyone writing on the other side of the coin, so I took it up on myself to throw light on certain points. To begin with, Rituparno kept stating it again and again that he was not speaking for himself, he was speaking for many other people like him who speak in a ‘womanish’ way. He made it abundantly clear that he did not care or feel bothered by the imitation and mimicry that Mir dealt out to delighted audiences.

The fact is that we were disturbed by this conversation not because Mir was being made to answer uncomfortable questions, but because we, who have taken a lot of fun and delight at his mimicry and imitation till date, got ruffled by his questions. We were made to realize that so long we have been taking sadistic pleasures at the cost of a certain section of people. We realized that we were all equally wrong for having eaten out of his hands while he dished out insensitive, irresponsible comments and gestures.

The most blatant part is that we did not realize this aspect before Rituparno pointed it out. Yes, we have been that insensitive. I’m also not willing to buy this talk of Mir being silent because he is a gentleman. He was silent because he was caught on the wrong foot and the only way he could get out of it was to act like a martyr, which he did to deadly effect.

As for a guest being insulted, let me point out that Mir had been doing this thing at events where Rituparno was an invited guest as well, and that too repeatedly. Where were these ‘atithi devobhava’ supporters then? There may also be questions that Mir does it in good humor and when other celebrities don’t have a problem, why does Rituparno take up arms? There are two answers to this: one, there’s no logic in the fact that if someone takes insults lying down, everyone would. Two, imitating Rituparno is not imitating the man; it is imitating many other men like him. That is the cardinal point that everyone seems to be missing conveniently.

As for the allegation that Rituparno did it for TRPs, let me point out that Mir built up his ‘brand’ of humor by relying hugely on imitating Rituparno. We all know that imitating Rituparno is the best weapon in his armory. As Rituparno rightly said, he has been making money out of this for years. And Rituparno, whose films are so eagerly awaited, does not need to pulverize an RJ to grab eye-balls.

While writing all this I never forgot the fact that it is just a show. Yes it is. But there are many who forgot that there exists something that art calls ‘poetic justice’. This is just a humble attempt to remind them.


angshu said...

Admire your independent opinion on the interview. Surely for the 1st 5-10 minutes I too was caught in that trap. But when we look back, we laugh at stereotypes. A lot of laughter and humour is strung around that. If we think this is insensitive, then it shows more about our own bloated sense of existence and inability to laugh.

Why were Mir's take on Ritu insensitive - because people walking talking like that feel offended? But why do they feel offended al all if they ACTUALLY walk talk differently? Why can't they accept their stereotype? This refusal is called ego. When a UP bhaiya is copied for his accent, he too has a right to feel offended then. So does the archetypal foolish jaat. They don't call interviews to peel off Raju Srivastava or Johnny Lever or whatever.

Most Jats make fun of themselves - and you can still call it making money off your own community. There's no end to this kind of 'sensitivity' if you call that so. Hoep people are as sentitive to their country's needs and avoid evading taxes - or in Ritu's case, avoid ripping off popular movies / novels to claim fame and thus bring the same ridicule on Bangla cinema as Pritam does to Hindi film music. Why in his own tersm is he not being insensitive to th cinema coming from Satyajit Ray's land by allowing it to be called theft? (sad, as I think he is perfectly capable of good cinema all by himself.)

As for a show host ripping off a guest - your argument did not hold much water as at the end of the day Mir tries NOT to disintegrate the person's fame. All said and done, it was unbelievable for a show host to claim that 'leave alone you (Mir), not too many people in Bengal have to capacity to match or get into the mind of Rituparno Ghosh'. To me, that one sentence showed the crux of the problem.

Anonymous said...

It may sound out of context... but my feeling after seeing the recent movies by Rituparno, I really doubt genuinity or Greatness of Mr Ghosh as a film director. He really has not innovated anything new in terms of cinematic language after what was contributed by Ghatak, Ray and Sen. What he is doing is really repeatation of the old works of those Masters. So, it would be better if he concentrates more on his actual work of art instead of bothering about what the not so great people (as per Ghosh) like Mir is saying. And contribute some real good classic cinema to the history of Bengali Cinema. We will really be greatful to him then.

Abhishek said...

Ritu did the right thing as any humour in excess is not humour anymore. Mir was silent because he was aware of his fault and he is a gentleman too. But Mir has degraded Ritu directly and not any common lady like persona.....days after days to pull crowds.

Perseverence is only admissible to a limit.....beyond that it is just a thrashing. So, Ritu tharshed Mir.

All should take a lesson from that. Now, either Mir will reduce his mockery or doubly do it.

So, to me both Ritu and Mir has faults in their nature but they just played their part. very similar to this situation, I have seen P C Sorcar always humiliates Sai Baba of South by saying he is a fraud. He never respects the disciples of Sai Baba.
One day Sai baba will surely call Sorcar on a talk show......

Arup Sarkar said...

Ritu shudn't do this.. The show reveals the anger of Ritu on Mir..
He should have take care on his behaviour.. The way he was talking is very shameful..
Being guest Mir doesen't deserve such insensitive attitudes from the host of the show..
May be Ritu did it to increase the show's trp..

Anonymous said...

Everyone is free to do whatever he or she chooses in life. The way Mr. Rituporno Ghosh conducted the show and demeaned what Mir does just shows his intolerance levels and that he does not respect another person's profession. From a person, the stature of Mr. Ghosh, I would have expected much more sane attitude and even if he had to question Mir's competency, he could have formed properly crafted questions. What he did instead was just settle scores. Mr. Ghosh could actually have asked Mir to come to the boxing ring and sort it out than calling him to a talk show and run his own propaganda. As someone on this forum said, I agree that some Bengali intellectuals of the genre of Mr. Ghosh think that they are much bigger than the others. Shame on their thought processes.

Anonymous said...

Hi, Loved your take on this one. It so true that we assume certain things that are actually not correct, especially stereotypes, e.g. sardar humors, which especially irritate me. I have a humorous take on this subject! Please visit http://www.taibhabi.blogspot.com for further on this!

Anonymous said...

This is one of the most intelligent and sensible takes on that episode and its repercussions. The person above who found Rituparno Ghosh's comment unacceptable misinterpreted it, typical Bengali egoistic way. Note that Mir had said just before that he did not only copy Rituparno's mannerisms, but also the 'content of his speech'. Then apparently he too has the necessary talent, and creative and erudite intelligence as Rituparno - he is his clone in real life! Any self-respecting indiviudal would object to that. What exactly has Mir achieved, apart from mindlessly cloning famous personalities and cracking cheap vulgar jokes, inciting others to do so, and throwing in a couple of acting assignments here and there? Is he really equal to Rituparno? As Rituparno said, 'You can copy P C Sircar, but can you show his magic?'
And all the people commenting here - insensitive? Really? Who is insensitive and where, is the question. A person humiliates another individual (celebrity, mind you, who is a role-model for thousands of people who are unvoiced and fear to express themselves because society treats them as upper caste Hindus treated low caste people - ostracized them (okay, tough word: that means segregated them socially), humiliates them, harasses (in forms imaginable) them and exploits them as they are 'criminals' in the eyes of the law - it is certainly more than just a 'stereotype'! They are deserted by their family and friends for being 'different'. Imagine a small scenario - a person who admired your skills, and sat beside you at the work table and also a friend of yours for several years, suddenly switching places just after he got to know you are 'different'. Yes, it hurts.
Now imagine some idiot constantly making fun of the very things that society has been ridiculing all along - and this time, not in whispers - publicly, in respected events, and frequently. You are present as an invited guest; you wince inwardly (along with several silent, unvoiced people) but have to laugh as others would think 'you lacked the funny bone'. I remember a boy in my class who would fall down frequently, and the whole class (excluding me - oh yes, I lacked the funny bone too!) laughed at him. I would see him wince, then force himself to smile and then laugh. It was just painful to see it.

Anonymous said...

If you call out the person (above mentioned idiot) for doing this, (remember: he has been doing this publicly, so there is not reason you should not), and there is a bit of a hard tone born out of days of recurring humiliation, it is your fault. You are not ashamed of yourself, you have self-confidence and self-respect, but years of insult, humiliation, repeated betrayal from close friends and society because you are 'different' have rendered you a wee bit vulnerable - and what does this person do but slash at those chinks in the armor!
'Everyone is free to do whatever he or she chooses in life.' Yes, definitely, and this includes EVERYONE. They should not be insulted for being different, in height, weight, skin color, intelligence, race, religion, caste, orientation or gender (yes, these are the main causes of bullying worldwide)! Mir respects his wife's religion - that she is 'different' - then why not other people who are 'different' too, and widely victimized by society where they live in constant fear of exposure due to the Law itself (ever heard of 377?)?
Rituparno has just pointed out the hard facts - that in reality, Mir is just a xerox - a talent-less human being who lives likes a parasite on other famous people's mimicry - Rituparno challenged Mir to live for five years without using mimicry - he has not been able to last a year! Who stopped him being an actor - serious one, not freelancer? Is it Rituparno's fault that his apparent '500kg matter packed into 100kg box' was not utilized? What originality does he have in ANY field? He did not join theater, films or any such medium seriously - except the radio (where he can be 'himself', so no acting required) - and is the mimicry a way to vent this frustration and his regret that Bengal, or India, did not get to see the full rise of 'a talent like him' - mimicking others who, through their continuous struggle, efforts and talents, reached a place in the time's Hall of Fame? Is that not just plain pathetic?