Monday, November 29

Lockdown find: Lila Majumdar’s rare works

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Rare, unpublished writings of Lila Majumdar have tumbled out during the Ashutosh College student Soumyakanti Dutta’s lockdown clean up in the city.

Dutta, a member of ‘Sandesh’ and ‘Bichitrapatra’ magazines, was given the responsibility to take care of Majumdar’s collection by her son Ranjan when they took up the task of making a documentary on the author. Ranjan’s old age and health conditions did not allow him to take care of his mother’s vast treasure trove. The treasures found by Dutta at his Paikpara residence in the past one week include Bengali translation of Shakespeare’s some plays, English translation of Abanindranath Tagore’s lecture on Indian art and painting -‘Bageshwari Shilpoprobondhaboli’, an unpublished biography of Mother Teresa in English. The priceless memorabilia includes Deshikottama award, letters from Rabindranath Tagore, Premendra Mitra, Ashapurna Devi, Nandalal Basu, water colour paintings and embroideries by Lila Majumdar, original manuscripts, essays in English and Bengali on society and status of women and many negatives of unseen photos.

“I shifted a lot of stuff from Lila Majumdar’s house to mine at Paikpara a few months ago. The lockdown gave me adequate time to go through the matters extensively and find what important documents had been lying unattended. I discovered the priceless writings for book lovers and researchers during the clean-up,” said Dutta. The Ashutosh college student found 10 exercise books comprising translation of Abanindranath Tagore’s ‘Bageshwari Shilpoprobandhoboli’ translated by Majumdar into English along with Bengali translation of Shakespeare’s Hamlet, Othello, Macbeth and Julius Caesar. The unpublished biography of Mother Teresa by her was also discovered during the clean-up.

Author Shirshendu Mukhopadhyay said, “It is like discovering a treasure trove all of a sudden. All these rare works will enrich our literature, if restored properly.”

Srilata Banerjee, grand daughter of Majumdar, said, “Amid the gloom of lockdown, the news of Didibhai’s unpublished and little-known works being discovered is a ray of sun shine.” She thanked Dutta and his other teammates Souradeep Banerjee, Ayan Chatterjee for taking up the huge task of archiving and publishing Majumdar’s rare works. The famous and rare magazines like Probashi, Bharatbarsha, Mukul, Rangmashal’s edition on Sukumar Ray have been retrieved. According to Dutta, these editions date back to 1920s and 1930s. The water colour paintings, mostly natural landscape, drawn by Majumdar, date back to1940s and 50s.

Following the advice of Sandip Ray, film director, Dutta are digitizing Majumdar’s unpublished writings, including the ones on her nephew Satyajit Ray on the occasion of his birth centenary.


Source: Times of India

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