Chitrangada being the only child of the King of Manipura dresses like a man and is heir to the throne. One day, she sees Arjun in action and falls in love with him. Knowing Arjun will love her in this form and he thinks her to be a man. She receives a boon from Kamadeva, Hindu god of love, and transforms herself into a beautiful feminine woman. Arjun does fall in love with this great princess who is also his equal in warfare. Later on when he meets her after Chitrangada meets him after saving her kingdom, he is more than impressed and they get married later on.
Now that was Rabindranth Tagore’s ‘Chitrangada’. The modern ‘Chitrangada’, a film by Rituparno Ghosh also has the dance drama , but honestly it remains as the backdrop and remains in the background because for one simple reason. After Arekti Premer Galpo which featured a same sex relationship, this film is also about a same sex relationship about a gay couple Partho and Rudra. More importantly the film seems to be a take off of Rituparno’s Ghosh ‘s own life because that is exactly what most people will go to see unfortunately or fortunately as that will create an equal curiosity among general movie goers along with the theme of Chitrangada. It is a film which discusses the gender tranformation, same sex relationships, crossing of minds and bodies mentally , emotionally and pschologically. Rudie(Rituparno) is willing to convert into a woman in order to start a family as they don’t allow two gay men to adopt a child in our country, but Pratho is reluctant to accept him in that form and is happy to accept Rudie the way he is and he would rather accept a real woman than an artificial one. The relationship is then stretched to a new direction as Rudie battles with his inner self and his inner emotions to adjust himself with the new changes in the relatiosnhip between him and Partho which has hit rock bottom due to issues.
Anjan Dutt had said at the press meet of the film that a person’s identity is his work and who he is, not for what he is, and sexual preferences aren’t important at all. Even Rituparno has also laid stress on the same fact and said that it is about one’s identity as well other than just his sexual preferences. Yes, agreed, it is about the character study of a human being who feels like a woman and and thinks he is a woman’s body. He acts as the woman in the relationship and is even willing to adjust and compromise and even undergo a sex change . It is about two human beings, crossing of bodies and soul, about gender and gender transformation. The fact of the matter is no matter what the director tries to say, the film is strictly about himself trying to make a statement about himself. Chitrangada, the dance drama and Chitrangada, the character have been clearly been used just a backdrop or a pretext in the film. In recent times, he has been quite open about his sexuality and has started dressing differently and is even rumoured to have undergone a sex change operation. The physical changes can be seen in real life and it is very evident on the screen when we see the character who is even seen mentioning the physical changes and sex operation on screen. This is clearly a statement from the director who wants to say –‘This is my story’.
This is about the angst, the pain, about Rituparno. Yet, it is about a lot else as well. Jishu potrays the role of Partho, the junkie beatifully and complements Ritupano well. This role must have been a real test fro him, but he manages to pass it. Deepankar Dey and Anusua Majumdar who plays Rudie’s parents complement each other and play their roles quite well. However the real mystery man is the charcter of Subho. Till the very end you can be sure that this character whom the audience was thinking to be the true, friend, philosopher and guide of Rudie and guides him at each step and is played beautifully by Anjan Dutt doesn’t exist at all as Subho is his alter ego!
This does remain Rituparno’s ‘story’ after all.