Short filmmaker Tathagata Ghosh lets us into the queer world of Miss Man
The movie has earned kudos at various film festivals including the recently held Kashish Mumbai International Queer Film Festival
Having spent his formative years in Bengal’s rust belt of Howrah, witnessing the perennial struggle of the teeming lower-middle-class was not a one-off incident for budding short filmmaker Tathagata Ghosh. “I always felt that the subaltern stories needed to be told and nothing could have been a better medium for me than cinema,” Ghosh tells us.
After trying his hands in a few amateur short films during college years, this self-taught director came up with his first short film called Doitto (the demon) in 2018. A psychological thriller based on serial murders of children in Bengal, it did well in the international film festival circuit, prodding him to make another short, Miss Man, on the struggles of a gay man. The film has been screened at over 40 international film festivals so far, where it won several awards. It also got screened at the Kashish Mumbai International Queer Film Festival two weeks back, where it earned a lot of appreciation. We had a short chat with this new spark of talent about Miss Man and his future projects. Excerpts:
What was the idea behind Miss Man?
It all started with a close friend getting married. We were upset about not getting invited but later discovered that his marriage fell apart when he came out of the closet. It was around the time when section 377 was still very much in place. That incident affected me deeply and inspired me to write the screenplay for Miss Man. I feel more films like Miss Man will help at least a few of us to be more respectful and sensitive towards the LGBTQ community.
The cast, especially the protagonist, is relatively unknown...
When I saw the picture of Arghya Adhikary (lead actor in Miss Man) clicked at the 2018 Kolkata Pride Walk, I knew I found the hero of my film. A school teacher, he had no previous experience of acting and was initially hesitant. But once he heard the script he gave his all to the film. Another transgender actor, who played a crucial role in the short is Ratrish Saha, who also sang for the film. I have cast actors from the queer community to lend a real touch.
Do you think enough gender-fluid films are being made in Bengali?
I don’t think so. We talk about inclusion and yet when we make queer films, we do not cast actors who are from the LGBTQ community even if they are talented. The filmmakers are scared to take “risks” and hence, the portrayal is often extremely flawed, unidimensional and stereotypical. The audience, too, does not feel the struggles and pain of the characters most of the times.
Will Miss Man be released online on any OTT platform?
The film is currently doing festival rounds. We have screenings lined up at various festivals including the Wicked Queer: The Boston LGBT Film Festival, (August 2), IFFSA Toronto (August 12), Vancouver Queer Film Festival (August 14) and the Oscar-qualify-ing Bengaluru International Short Film Festival (August 13-16) where it’s playing in the Indian Competition section.
What are the projects you are working on?
I am currently researching on a subject that’s related to the political climate of the country.