Tuesday, October 23, 2012

Sunil Gangopadhyay

The first thing the name, Sunil Gangopadhyay, conjures up before me is the parts of his celebrated poem, ‘Smitir Sohor’, especially as performed in the Aparna Sen film ‘Iti Mrinali’; there’s such a haunting quality about the poem that it affects me every time. A close second is the English translation of his masterpiece, ‘Sey Samoy’, ‘Those Days’...

Words are not enough, as a friend says, Sunil Gangopadhyay has written more books than you can read in a lifetime. He was a literary superstar...

Sunil Gangopadhyay passes away
Press Trust of India / Kolkata October 23, 2012, 15:45

Eminent litterateur and Sahitya Akademi President Sunil Gangopadhyay, who authored over 200 books and excelled in different genres, died today following a massive heart attack. He was 78. The Bengali writer is survived by wife and son. Gangopadhyay's body will be kept in a mortuary till his son arrives from Boston for performing the last rites, his family said.

Winner of the Sahitya Akademi Award in 1985 for his historical novel 'Sei Samoy' (At That Time), Gangopadhyay's best-selling works include 'Pratham Alo' and 'Purbo-Paschim', a depiction of Partition and its aftermath seen through the eyes of three generations of Bengalis in West Bengal, Bangladesh and elsewhere. He also received the 'Ananda Puraskar' twice, the 'Bankim Puraskar' and Hindu Literary Prize.

Condoling his death, President Pranab Mukherjee said "Gangopadhyay enriched Bengali literature through his unique style. He was the greatest among his peers. A bright star has fallen. The vacuum created by his death cannot be filled." Eminent writers, including Shirshendu Mukhopadhyay, Samaresh Majumdar, Nirendranath Chakrabarty and Abul Bashar mourned his death.

Using the pen-names of Nil Lohit, Sanatan Pathak and Nil Upadhyay, Gangopadhyay was the author of over 200 books and excelled in different genres, but declared poetry to be his first love. His well-known poems include 'Kavita Sangraha', 'Shada Pristha Tomar Sangay' and 'Amar Swapna'. His Neera series of poems were also popular. Gangopadhyay was the founder editor of 'Krittibas', a seminal poetry magazine that became a platform for a new generation of poets experimenting with many new forms. His novels like 'Aranyer Din Ratri', 'Pratidhwani and 'Arjun' were made into films by maestro Satyajit Ray and 'Abar Aranya' by Gautam Ghosh. His other work of prose include the adventurous character for young adults 'Kakababu'.

Born in Faridpur (Bangaldesh) on September 7, 1934, Gangopadhyay was also known for short stories like 'Shreshtha Galpo' and 'Maha Prithibi'.

Kolkata, Oct 23 (IBNS): An era in contemporary Bengali literature came to an end as eminent Bengali writer Sunil Gangopadhyay passed away at his residence in Kolkata on Tuesday after suffering from a massive heart attack. He was 78. He died at around 2 am on Tuesday night, reports said. Gangopadhyay's body will be kept at the funeral parlour 'Peace Haven' on Tuesday. His last rites will be performed on Wednesday after his son Souvik Gangopadhyay arrives in Kolkata from Boston, local TV channels reported.

Gangopadhyay, who was the President of the Sahitya Akademi, had charmed Bengali readers for generations with his poems and novels. Eminent personalities mourned the death of the writer. "I never thought he will pass away so early. He was not only a good writer but an excellent human being," filmmaker Mrinal Sen said. Writer Shirshendu Mukhopadhyay said: "He was a very good man. He respected every person around him and never insulted any one." Filmmaker Goutam Ghose said : "I can't imagine that one of my favourite writers passed away today. He was a good friend. I can't imagine that I will not be able to share my feelings with him any more. He will survive in our memories now." Actor Parambrata Chatterjee tweeted: "Just heard Sunil Gangopadhyay has passed away... Let this not be true..."

Born in 1934, in Bangladesh's Faridpur district , Gangopadhyay was the founder editor of Krittibas, a seminal poetry magazine started publishing from 1953, that became a platform for a new generation of poets experimenting with many new forms in poetic themes, rhythms, and words. Later, he started writing for various publications of the Ananda Bazar group, a major publishing house in Kolkata and has been continuing it for many years. Author of well over 200 books, Sunil was a prolific writer who had excelled in different genres but declared poetry to be his "first love". His Nikhilesh and Neera series of poems were extremely popular.

His historical fiction Sei Somoy received the Indian Sahitya Akademi award in 1985. Sei Somoy (Those Days) continues to be a best seller more than two decade after its first publication. The same is true for Pratham Alo, another best selling historical fiction and Purbo-Paschim, a raw depiction of the partition and its aftermath seen through the eyes of three generations of Bengalis in West Bengal, Bangladesh and elsewhere. He won the Bankim Puraskar (1982), and the Ananda Puraskar (twice, in 1972 and 1989). The writer had written in many other genres including travelogues, children's fiction, short stories, features, and essays. He used the pen-names like Nil Lohit, Sanatan Pathak, and Nil Upadhyay.

Though he has written all types of children's fiction, one character created by him that stands out above the rest, is Kakababu, the crippled adventurist and detective, accompanied by his young adult nephew Santu, and his friend Jojo. One of Sunil Gangopadhyay's cult poems, Smritir Shohor has been turned into a song for the film Iti Mrinalini (2011) directed by Aparna Sen. Pertinently, legendary filmmaker Satyajit Ray had adapted his two novels- 'Pratidwandi' and 'Aranyer Din Raatri'- into films.
More here.

The Iti Mrinalini poem here.

Kabir Suman remembers Sunil: I can't say that your poems changed anything in my life or in the way I look at life. I don't think I'll rush to buy your complete poems if a weighty volume is published now following your departure. May be as in my student days I'll again secretly wait for some young man to suddenly arrive and impart to me the aura of some of your modern-urban-romantic lines. Who knows, perhaps I prefer to hear your lines and phrases from the lips of young men whose eyes sparkle as they start to take your words on their lips and then close their eyes as though they were going to kiss a girl for the first time in their life, and sigh thereafter — a sigh that you seldom tried to hide in many of your poems. Since you are Sunil Gangopadhyay, I would even say that I wish your poems had intervened in the scheme of things that is ruling over us and destroying everything worth nurturing; that I wish some of your poems had touched the glorious struggle of our people, especially the women of Nandigram and Lalgarh. I wish you and I had again felt the same shame — you as the poet and I as your reader — on looking at the media photograph of Koteshwar Rao just as we shared our shame on Che Guevara's death. But, at the same time, I am saying adieu to you with gratitude for the mysterious spell your poems sometimes cast on me and for the poem in which you once addressed Indira and gently, even compassionately, advised her not to take a window seat in the helicopter to aerially inspect the extent of damage caused by floods over huge areas, lest she, overwhelmed by such a sight from such an altitude might suddenly exclaim by mistake, "Oh, but how beautiful."
More here.

Sunil Gangopadhyay couldn't do without his cigarettes, says Goutam Ghose: No one needs to reiterate the fact that Sunilda was a prolific writer. But through his stories, novels, poems, he became a symbol of the composite Bengali consciousness. He had respect for all religions and that came through in his writings like Purba Paschim and Prothom Alo, among others. No wonder he was hugely popular in both the Bengals — epar and opar Bangla. Personally, I shared a 30-year-old association with him. Whenever someone would raise questions about a certain write-up of his, he would put it humbly, 'Ki korbo, eto lekha ditey hoy, na korte parina'. He could never say no to anyone. That's why his writings are as much a part of little magazines as renowned patrikas.
More here.

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