Thursday, May 6

From poetry to stage, Bengal stars steal show

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A series of high-voltage Bengali sessions were lined up at the Times Litfest on Sunday and senior authors were the centre of attraction. Each session planned around them had hundreds of readers in attendance, asking questions, clicking selfies with their stars and asking for autographs. The authors, too, responded warmly to the adulation and stayed on at the different halls and shamianas for as long as their fans wanted.

Sunday’s event started off by honouring two veterans of Bengali literature — Narayan Debnath and Sirshendu Mukhopadhyay. Debnath, who, even at 95, continues to churn out further adventures of his iconic creations Handa Bhonda, Bantrul the Great and Nonte Fonte from his Shibpur residence, was the centre of attraction from the moment he arrived at the session in a wheelchair. Mukhopadhyay took time off to speak at a session titled Din Bodol Er Golpo, where he spoke about the changes he has seen around him over the past six decades. He was joined on the panel by Bani Basu, Amar Mitra, Shekhar Samaddar and Shashtipada Chattopadhyay.

“I think authors create an alternative world, a world of their imagination, and this imagination of myriad shades keeps changing with time,” Mukhopadhyay said.

Basu, who was conducting the session, spoke about the imagery of time and asked her co-panelists how they looked at change and how it was reflected in their writing.

Author Manishankar Mukhopadhyay, who was conferred the Lifetime Achievement Award in the first edition of the festival last year, discussed the biggest fears in the life of an author. He described his long journey from being a salesman to a lawyer’s clerk, and then a full-time author. He added that a writer should never let his shadow fall on his writing, and should try to stay away from nepotism, favouritism and conflict of interest.

The session on Bengali poetry, titled Chirantan Bangla Kabita, was dedicated to the memory of Sunil Gangopadhyay. The speakers included Subodh Sarkar, Angshuman Kar and Nibedita Acharjee and the session was conducted by Ayan Bandyopadhyay. Speaking on whether any poetry can be called timeless, Sarkar said he preferred to judge it on the anvil of contemporary creations. Kar said that timelessness was a tricky concept in case of poetry while Acharjee felt that some poets, like Tagore and Jibanananda, were indeed timeless.

The panel on Bengali theatre discussed the Kolkata stage from the time of Noti Binodini to the present times. Speakers at the session conducted by Shekhar Samaddar included playwright and actor Bratya Basu and actor Sudipa Basu. The different flavours of the Kolkata stage, from ‘babu theatre’ to ‘gana natya’, as well as the stage in the current times, were discussed. Basu tried to understand why the stage is losing its popularity since, he said, it has always been a powerful medium. Every time a play is staged, it is the first time and cannot be replicated, unlike films, he said. Sudipa Basu spoke about women actors on stage like Usha Ganguly, Sohag Sen, Seema Mukhopadhyay and Ishita Mukhopadhyay.


Source: Times of India

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