Saturday, September 20, 2008


Someone recommended me to watch the 2004 Paul Haggis movie Crash. Desparation got the better of me and Youtube pointed to the easy exit. So I just finished watching the movie. Thanks Sujata, it was indeed a fine movie, at least thats what a part of me keeping telling me. I say so because the other part kept thinking I am watching a well made documentary, an extremely well made one.

A good documentary is almost like a movie; in fact I am not even sure if there is a sharp line separating them. Possibly I was less moved than expected while the movie because I am so used to seeing around me all those that was shown in the movie. A sensitive person should crash while watching the vignettes of discrimination, mostly racial in nature. I have seen those in so many forms and feathers that they didn't affect me as much.

A poet once said "Where the mind is without fear, where the head is held high...". It needs a lot of courage to be able to do that in today's world.

Tuesday, September 16, 2008

Sesh Proshno

No excuse is enough for not blogging for a year and then resuming with some copied content. I will not even try to give one.

While returning from India, I brought 3 volumes of a collection of novels by the famous Bengali novelist Kathasahityik Sarat Chandra Chattopadhyay with me for (Dr.) Saikat (Guha). I recommended him the novel "Shes Proshno" (the ultimate question). Here is how he summarised it later.

The story revolves around a set of prabasi Bengalis in Agra, when a wealthy elderly widower Ashubabu moves into the city with his only daughter Manorama. In spite of being very rich, Ashubabu gains instant popularity amidst the Bengali community because of his extremely
down-to-earth/sociable/helpful demeanor. Ashubabu frequently visits other families, and invites people to his home (a huge house) for meals, music gatherings, and adda. Shibnath is an excellent musician, but a very lose character person, who Ashubabu meets with and starts inviting to his home regularly because of his excellent musical talent. One evening, at a dinner with several others and Shibnath at his home, it gets revealed that Shibnath had left his first wife because of her persistent ill health and had married a daughter of a Dasi in his house. Shibnath gets unpopular and loses respect in the community but still maintains his demand due to his music and his charming and open personality. The appearance in the story of this stunningly beautiful second wife of Shibnath, called Kamal, arouses a tremendous surge of a mixture of rage, respect, and curiosity in the Bengali community. Kamal was brought up in a tea bagan in north bengal and was born to a European man and a Hindu dasi. Kamal is a very strong character and is not influenced a bit by insult and societal negligence due to her caste and her beliefs. In spite of being an outcast, (and later in the story been dumped by Shibnath), she continues to influence the community by her fearless philosophy that revolves around the betterment of humanity as a whole, and not clinging to the age-old Hindu traditions to be the saviors of our souls. The remainder of the story revolves around Kamal, Ashubabu (who immensely likes Kamal and almost sees her as his daughter, but doesn't agree on a single thing with her ever), Ashubabu's foreign-return (supposedly) hobu Jamai Ajit, Manorama, and a few other very interesting, albeit different characters.

Sounds interesting? The plot itself speaks of a silence revolution in a society far far away in space and time. Yet I am sure you will find small bubbles of revolting characters, some even similar to Kamal from the novel, in any society anywhere. To get the full flavour of the novel,
you should definitely read the novel in Saratchandra's words... the dialogue deliveries and the character sketches are remarkable, and in spite of the story being set in pre-independence days, has an incredible amount of relevance to today's society.

I personally read the novel during my mid-teens. One of the advantages of studying away from home is to get access to all kinds of literature, good bad or ugly (ahem! no raised eyebrows please). Anyway, I read it later once more but do not remember much about the story. What I remember is that when I read it, it was unlike any other Sarat Chattopadhyay's novels. Most of his novels center around women and somewhat feminist. This was the same yet different. In short, highly recommended if you can stand complex arguments and long winding discussions about social issues.

Well, this is an opportunity to learn Bangla (one of the top 10 most spoken languages in the world). However, if you are impatient, you may be able to use the English translation (review).