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Interview Bengali

We don't need temples, statues, but more money for health sector, says filmmaker Ranjan Ghosh

The director feels that the coronavirus pandemic is teaching us the value of life, brotherhood.    

Roushni Sarkar

The nationwide lockdown due to the coronavirus pandemic has seen artistes and celebrities from various fields consciously practising self-quarantine and spreading awareness through their social media posts. 

However, filmmaker Ranjan Ghosh is quite worried. “I can see people carelessly flouting the lockdown. They are gathering around, chatting and having a good time. I seriously think that it is time to impose section 144 here. People will not understand the seriousness of the disease unless the police intervenes,” stated the director of Rong Beronger Korhi (2018) and Ahaa Re (2019).

Having just learnt that a few residents in his society are refusing to quarantine themselves after their arrival from abroad, and are even taking offense on being asked to get tested, he is anxious as well.

Ghosh, who has been indoors for the last seven days, initially kept himself busy watching films and writing. However, he soon realised that these two were his routine activities. “First of all, now I am doing all the household chores as we have given our domestic help leave. I am not used to cleaning, dusting and housework. But now that I have no choice left, I am helping my mother,” narrated the filmmaker. He has also been busy going through his old albums and notebooks from school, which he is cleaning and rearranging as well.

“Right now, I am a bit bored of watching films and writing scripts as I do those activities in normal circumstances. Instead, I have been able to get my hands on notebooks from my school days and am cherishing the photos taken by my father,” he added. 

Ghosh usually loves reading fiction, but feels that now is the ideal time to delve into non-fiction. “I am reading film text books which I bought a long time ago, like, Sergei Eisenstein’s Film Form, The Film Sense' James Monaco’s How to Read a Film and Christian Metz's Film Language, along with watching one film at night,” he said. 

A few days ago, the director posted a black-and-white photograph of the legendary Satyajit Ray, sitting in his reading room filled with books, to stress on the productivity of staying indoors. He has also printed the photograph and stuck it to his computer table. 


“A few days ago, Rina Di (Aparna Sen) called me up as she was feeling a little restless. I told her that this epidemic has surprisingly turned out to be a great leveller. Starting from Donald Trump, Narendra Modi and Amitabh Bachchan to the common people, all have been put inside,” said Ghosh, adding that COVID-19 has shown that there is no discrimination among humans when it comes to facing death.

“I feel everyone should realise that people are now only thinking about survival and going beyond political differences and hatred,” said the director, as he stressed on the simple thought that each and every life matters.

Referring to a viral social media post stating that all temples, mosques, churches and places of religious congregation are closed now, only hospitals are open, the filmmaker said, “Our true heroes or gods, whatever you choose to call the doctors, are actually taking care of us. I think we should take away the lesson now that we don’t need temples and statues, etc. Rather we should concentrate on allotting more money for the health sector.”

He also spoke about the government’s Central Vista project, for which a budget of Rs20,000 crore has been sanctioned. “Probably these are needed to improve the image of the country, but investing in the healthcare infrastructure is the need of the hour. I understand that clapping for the doctors ensures a community feeling, but ensuring their safety is much more crucial now,” said the director. There is now one hospital bed per 10,000 people in the country and therefore, there is inadequate measure to tackle the pandemic, he added.

According to Ghosh, the global coronavirus pandemic is teaching us the value of humanity, while highlighting the gimmicks associated to religion. “We should develop a sense of love and brotherhood now. We should start caring for people even if they are not directly related to us,” concluded Ghosh.