And now, on Rituparno's death, the grief-stricken Prosenjit plans a film on Ritu. "I should write a book on him. But that is not my domain. So I will do something on screen. Yes, I am planning a film on Ritu now. Of course I'll preserve and restore his 19 films. But I'll also make a film on him."
Lately, Prosenjit and Ritu had grown distant because of the latter's insistence on undergoing potentially life-threatening hormonal operations. Prosenjit warned Ritu not to mess around with his body. But the director adamant on changing his gender wouldn't listen. This issue created a rift between the two life-long friends. Rituparno also insisted on making gay-centric films which further distanced Prosenjit professionally and personally from the filmmaker who changed the career and life-course of Bangla cinema's biggest superstar since Uttam Kumar.
Exclaims Prosenjit, "But look at the irony, Ritu finally did a non-gay film Satyanweshi after three years, where my wife Arpita plays the main female lead. So I was connected to Ritu in what we didn't know would be his final work. Arpita and Raima Sen were like daughter to Ritu. My wife is not just an actress but also a wonderful singer. Ritu smsed me when I was in Cairo saying, 'After a long time I got to work with a singing actress.' For Arpita, Rituda was a teacher. She's lucky to have worked in his last film. Regrettably, I didn't get time to visit the sets if Satyanveshi. But my wife would constantly BBM pictures from the locations."
Sighs Prosenjeet, "I am sure my wife would look lovely in Satyanveshi. He could make any actress look beautiful."
Prosenjeet was unable to work in any of Rituparno's films since 2009 because the director's work gravitated towards an expression of his homosexuality. "Not that I minded playing a character," clarifies Prosenjit. "But those films were about Ritu's character. They were made to express his viewpoint and anguish. I felt I had no place in them, although he and the director Kabeer Kaushik offered me his lover's role in Arektir Premer Golpo. But that was a film about his character. I had nothing to gain as an actor. People started gossiping about my refusal to play a homosexual character. But if I get to do a film like Tootsie or Brokeback Mountain, I'd happily play gay. I've taken risks during my career."
Recalling their long association fondly, Prosenjit said, "So many memories flood me. We fought like any two very old friends over childish issues. When Ritu decided to take on the editorship of a Bangla magazine, I fought with him because I thought he was unnecessarily deflecting attention from his true vocation. We also fought over a television serial that I produced and he acted in. But today I know we made something that would be remembered for 20 years. Even Mamta Bannerjee liked our serial."
Pondering over the loss, Prosenjit says, "I used to tell my wife if something happens to me, she should immediately go to Rituda to guide her. Now he's gone. We had our share of fights. But we were always there for one another. Our friendship went far beyond work. I will be grateful to him all my life. It will take me a long time to get over the loss."