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Notes from a session of the 3rd Apeejay Kolkata Literary Festival

January 26, 2012

As posted in my last post, I did manage to attend the session titled "TRIDHARA: CHARITRA O BHUMIKA LEKHAK, NIRDESHAK, NAYAK (Character & the Role: Writer, Director, Actor)" at Star Theatre, Kolkata. Since I promised Nadia in the comments section that I would blog about each and every fest, here are my notes from the session that I attended at the 3rd Apeejay Kolkata Literary Festival.

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  • I completely overestimated the crowd of Calcutta and reached almost 2 hours early to catch the best seats, only to realise that had I walked in 10 minutes late, I still would have had 90% of the auditorium at Star Theatre to choose from!
  • The panel had a mix of award-winning authors, directors and actors –

a) Nabarun Bhattacharya : poet, author of many novels, the best known being "Herbert", which won the Sahitya Academy Award and son of writer-activist Mahasweta Devi

b) Bani Basu : author of many acclaimed Bengali novels like "Maitreya Jataka" and "Swet Patharer Thala" etc, winner of Tarashankar Award and Ananda purashkar

c) Ashok Viswanathan : National Award winning director and an excellent actor

d) Suman Mukherjee : Director of "Herbert" which won the National Award for Best Feature Film in Bengali

e) Tota Roy Choudhury : One of the first Bengali actors to have a sculpted body which he flaunted while beautifully essaying the role of Bihari in the movie "Chokher Bali"

f) Saheb Chatterjee : Actor and singer rolled into one; acted in a modern adaptation of the famous tagore novel "Shesher Kobita"

g) Paoli Dam : Even the presence of an actor like her, with movies like "Kalbela", "Kagojer Bou" and the famous oral sex scene in "Chhatrak" in her kitty, could not ensure anything more than a near-empty auditorium

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  • The moderator of the evening Ratnottama Sengupta threw questions at the speakers in an attempt to stage a discussion on the journey of a character of a literature as created by the author to the role in a movie as interpreted by the director and portrayed by the actor.
  • Authors agreed that it is always a good feeling to see their creation translated into movies, but they are always scared about the excuse of ‘cinematic liberty’ which the director uses to interpret a character created by the author; sometimes, the authors cannot identify with their own characters after they get portrayed in the movies due to the numerous small changes that they undergo to be able to suit the big screen
  • Directors voiced their views that the visual expression of a literary work, at times, excel over the literature at the hand of a visionary film maker
  • Actors said that usually they have nothing to do with the role, they prepare just as their directors instruct them to do; after all cinema is a director’s medium 

It was an enriching experience listening to the veterans of the art. An author gives birth to a character and adds details to the character to make it believable. When the director decides to convert a literary work into cinema, he has a readily available material at hand. But a good story does not necessarily make a good cinema, unless the director can successfully adapt and translate it for the screen. Lastly, all the efforts of the director can fall flat if the actor cannot bring out the soul of the character and life of the role successfully before the audience.

DSCN0142 From l-r: Ratnottama Sengupta, Nabarun Bhattacharya, Bani Basu, Tota Roy Choudhury, Saheb Chatterjee,

Paoli Dam, Ashok Viswanathan, Suman Mukherjee and Arijit Dutta (MD Priya Entertainments Limited)

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4 Comments leave one →
  1. swayambhu mukherjee permalink
    January 26, 2012 11:41 am

    Was there too…so I think I should add a few words of my own here.

    1. The moderator, Ms. Ratnottama Sengupta, was quite good at stopping speakers in their tracks just when they had started saying something interesting.

    2. The authors were unanimous in criticising the medium of television….they didn’t want their works to be adapted for that medium.

    3. An interesting anecdote about the passing off of literary works was shared by Ms. Bani Basu.

    4. I was hoping to see a few other people on the panel….Mr. Sunil Gangopadhyay, for example.

    5. The organisers should have arranged for some form of audience participation…at least at the end of the show. That left me a little disappointed.

    6. Last but not the least, the low turnout for such a wonderful session left me a little disappointed. I’m hoping a repeat doesn’t happen at the bookfair.

    • debosmita permalink*
      January 26, 2012 9:37 pm

      My answer to your points –

      1. The job of a moderator is quite difficult, especially with speakers on panel who tend to get carried away. I think more than interrupting speakers midway, Ratnottama Sengupta did not ask the right questions.
      2. The authors also expresses their wariness in the medium of cinema.
      3. That incident that Bani Basu narrated implied one very important aspect – a cinema will be hit if people knew it is based on a story of a renowned author.
      4. I too missed Sunil Gangopadhyay and Buddhadev Dasgupta from the discussion.
      5. I guess, considering the low turnout, they did not want to take the risk of opening the floor and getting no response
      6. I had a feeling the low turnout had a lot to do with the day, time and venue.

  2. January 26, 2012 12:07 pm

    Sounds like a great fest, hope I can make it sometime

    • debosmita permalink*
      January 26, 2012 9:12 pm

      The Apeejay Fest is over. Now the Kolkata Lit Meet at the Book Fair is on.

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