destination india

Wednesday, June 15, 2005

nothing sell like non sense

Indians authors lack the ability to sustain the flow of non sense – whether it is verse or prose, they lose concentration after sometime and draw the line. Unlike Rowling, the creator of Harry Potter, who goes from strength to strength. And, each of her books has enough weight behind them to literally knock you over! She has proved, if proof is necessary, that nothing sells like nonsense.

Consider the great Sukumar Ray, who created that gem of a book ‘ha-ja-ba-ra-la’. There are lots of similarities with ‘Alice in Wonderland’. But, where Lewis Carol continues with his follow up ‘Through the looking glass’, Sukumar does not venture further. Instead, he goes on to his book of verses, Abol Tabol. Here again, once sees snippets of Lewis Carol. This is not to belittle the genius in Sukumar Ray but, the fact remains that we do not have the ability to go on and on looking for more and more items to tear apart through nonsensical representations.

There was Premendra Mitra who gave birth to a character called Ghanada. This gentleman allows full freedom to his imagination and comes up with remarkable situations. His writings had tremendous appeal to those who were young during the sixties! Because, his settings were such that those youths could readily identify them with his characters. In those days, most Bengali youths used to work in Calcutta and go home to their villages on weekends. Their stay in Calcutta used to be in bachelor accommodation known as ‘mess’. These used to be located near the Sealdah station for ease of conveyance of the bachelors. The inimitable Ghanada was a resident in one of these messes and, when his staunch followers come up to him and pester him for narrating one more of his adventures, he opens up the flood gates. He coined phrases that were weird, situations that were totally removed from reality.

In line with Ghanada was another dada, Tenida, one more brotherly character from the pens of Narain Gangopadhaya. His characters were basically meant for children nearing the end of their schooling, teen-agers in modern parlance. He has twelve volumes of stories to his credit and, his creations are applicable to a bygone era because today’s teenagers sharpen their claws on skills that Tenida would never have imagined. Today’s teenagers have Professor Shanku and the Feluda-Topshe duo, who possess more modern outlook. It is unfortunate that authors like Narain Gangopadhaya and Premendra Mitra did not get the recognition they deserve because of lack of marketing skills by their publishers and family members. Here again, they are known to very few outside Bengal. One character of Narain Gangopadhaya is Patla, a boy always plagued by stomach ailments, a common disease of Bengalis. His diet used to be magur macher jhol, a preparation of a type of fish known as ‘magur’ which is easy to digest. Today’s children and even the younger generation would never be able to identify with this character because such situations and surroundings are things that have vanished.

(to be continued…)


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