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Why Rituparno Ghosh was envious of hairstylist Hema Munshi

Hema Munshi recalls her mentor, actor-writer-filmmaker Rituparno Ghosh, who died on this day six years ago.

Roushni Sarkar

Hema Munshi, among the busiest hairstylists in Bengali cinema today, has been working for the past couple of decades with some of the best filmmakers in the business.

During her days of struggle in the 1990s, Munshi did not have much choice but to accept whatever work came her way. Today, like many top artistes, she is in a position to pick scripts that suit her experience and way of looking at life. And she credits filmmaker Rituparno Ghosh, who died on 30 May 2013, for the transformation in her career.

Munshi worked with Ghosh on Shubho Mahurat (2003), Khela (2008), Aarekti Premer Golpo (2010), Noukadubi (2011) and the telefilm Malati Bala Lane.

In a brief conversation with Cinestaan.com, Hema Munshi shared how Rituparno Ghosh changed her career and also narrated some anecdotes that reflect the transformation in Ghosh's life as well:

There was so much to learn from Ritu-da! He had the ability to describe the subtlest details with utmost clarity. That is how he could instil his ideas into our minds easily. His concepts were extremely realistic as well.

He would love to discuss, and he welcomed our thoughts too. It was not that he would be the sole person in charge all the time. He would often leave us with concepts to contemplate and then discuss our ideas and appreciate them by calling us individually at night.

While we were shooting for Noukadubi in 2010, Ritu-da was a bit concerned about the look of Riya [actress Riya Sen], since she had never been cast in a period film till then. When I could finally do the styling at the look test, Ritu-da was very happy. At night, he called me up and confirmed the look. I assured him that while shooting it was going to be even better because we don’t always have all the required material during a look test.

Ritu-da used to like me a lot and was also quite jealous of my appearance. I am quite thin and my jawline is quite sharp. Before shooting for Aarekti Premer Golpo, he had undergone various surgeries. Bumba-da [Prosenjit Chatterjee] later told us that when the doctor wanted to know what kind of appearance he wanted, Ritu-da had told him he wanted a jawline like mine. For this reason, Bumba-da keeps telling me even now, “In order to become like you, my friend lost his life.” I keep telling him, “Don’t say so, you are calling me a murderer.”

On the day of shooting for Aarekti Premer Golpo, after he was done with his makeup and got ready for the shot, he asked me, “How am I looking?” I replied that he was looking beautiful. He was not satisfied and promptly shot back, “Not beautiful like you!” I was quite embarrassed.

Both Aarekti Premer Golpo and Memories In March (2011) had different directors, but these were essentially Rituparno Ghosh films. I had so much more to learn from him! Now that he is not there, I try to learn from Kaushik Ganguly.