27 April 2008

Satyajit Ray was a great film director nationally and internationally. He is still a known name to the Bengali children for another reason. Nobody before him in Bengal was as successful a writer for children as Satyajit Ray. He had interests in various matters apart from his creative talent in film making. I will not discuss about his other interests except his deep interest in writing for children. He inherited this taste for writing from his grandfather and his father-Sukumar Ray. Sukumar Ray is famous for his nonsense poems and even after three generations Sukumar Ray is still the only one in this category. He is unique and unparallel in Bengali literature, if not Indian literature as a whole. Satyajit Ray considerably added reputation to his renowned literary family. Ray wrote profusedly for children of Bengal. He wrote mainly on three following categories:

1. 1.Detective story 2. Short story 3. Science fiction

These are the main three areas that are very popular amongst the children of Bengal. He wrote on other matters in English and Bengali but I like to restrict my writing on his ‘Feluda’ episodes. But before that I must tell a little about this young detective. The official name of Feluda is Pradosh C. Mitter. Felu is his nick name but to Topse (Tapesh) –who is a cousin –he is Feluda. In Bengali da -when it’s suffixed with a name he is regarded as elder brother. Feluda lives with his uncle-Topse’s father in Calcutta. Topse is an adolescent boy very fond of Feluda and regarded him as his hero. In feluda episodes we find in Topse a Watson like assistant cum companion.

But let me watch Feluda and his creator-Ray. Feluda-is his later twenties now, very smart young man. He is extremely meticulous in his watching –whatever it may be-and perhaps follows Holmes as his Guru in this matter. He has many characteristics similar to Holmes. But in spite of the similarities he is distinctively a different person. For age, cultural difference, familial bond Feluda must have to be a different man. Moreover Ray wrote his Feluda stories mainly for children of Bengal. Holmes-stories are basically written with adult psychology and situations which can not be themes for children. Holmes is a queer and unsocial man. Holmes is addicted to cocaine and a confirmed bachelor and a homeless (not belonging to any family) person. Holmes is extremely intelligent but he likes to restrict his interest in such matters which he thinks necessary for his job as a detective. So, at times Holmes proves to be surprisingly an uneducated person when expressing his ignorance on planetary movements. On the contrary, Feluda is a well-informed man in matters of many things simply for the interest og the things themselves than any generally educated person. Feluda is a smoker. He smokes a cheap but strong brand of unfiltered cigarette- Charminar. Perhaps Ray told much about Feluda by naming this brand. It is the brand of intellectuals of Calcutta and especially of those who are mainly tough and cerebral type. Feluda is honest and very social. He is careful about his health and its strength and agility. So in the morning he has his regular yoga exercise. Unlike the general Bengalis Feluda speaks English perfectly like an English man. Externally, Feluda loves western etiquettes. But Feluda is not anglicized. He is neither a quintessentially Bengali in his manners, behaviors and interests. But he is inclined to be an aristocrat modern Bengali. In short Feluda is updated-modern and international Bengali who would rather be impetuous to study the dialects of different languages than to be inclined to write poetry.

But perhaps I am missing the points by miles for the matter I have thought of writing here. Feluda, as I have said, has many qualities but contrary to the general Bengali –he is not emotional, sentimental, romantic and soft in his inner nature and external demeanour. In his stories he appears to be tough and dependable as we see him through Topse. Feluda has all the qualities of a successful detective.

Now let me see Soumitra Chatterjee who played the role of Feluda in all those Feluda-films –directed by no other person than the creator of Feluda-Satyajit Ray. Ray like all the first graded film directors had the quality of selecting the right persons for the roles of his film characters. No film director in India before him and after him till date had such brilliant eyes to choose the exact person for his film. He was a perfectionist. In his Pather Panchali –I wonder if any actor or actress can be replaceable! All seem to have been born as the characters of Pather Panchali and they can not have other identities than we find them in the film. It’s true of all his films-even of those films whose stories were of his writings. But pardon me, my readers, if I tell that his choice for Soumitra Chatterjee for the role of Feluda was not proper. No doubt –Soumitra was then a great actor and in every Ray-film he equaled just the person he was chosen for. We must remember here that it was Ray who brought Soumitra in films. I have found that Santosh Datta was never as excellent in other films by other directors as Lalmohan Ganguly in Feluda films. It was because of Ray. Ray had the capability to pick up the right persons for his characters and had also the talent to mould them to fit to the characters they were chosen for.

So when Ray himself picked up Soumitra for the role of his own popular detective character-Feluda-it was, by all that was said above, definitely the right thing he did. But I can never accept Soumitra wearing the garb of Feluda. It must be added here that I am an admirer of Soumitra as a film actor. He was extraordinary in Apur Sansar. Then?

Basically-Soumitra is a quintessentially a Bengali. His demeanour gives an impression that he is soft, romantic, shy, a lover of poetry and belongs very much to family. He is very handsome –but in a Bengali way. Actually, Soumitra is just what he looks. Whenever Soumitra wore beard and moustache in some films –he was able to hide his so called ‘not so smart’ countenance. It is evident from his roles in Jhinder Bandi, Abhjan etc. Feluda and Soumitra in their basic personalities are completely different. they belong to different genre and Soumitra could never be able to hide his nature as Feluda. Soumitra acted just the way it should be desired to do justice to Feluda. But he was helpless with the tone of his voice and his smiling face that can not fit to Feluda.

It can never be an issue to write on, at least for me –if it were not that perfectionist Ray choosing Soumitra for a character –he himself created with extreme care and love. Ray created Feluda in his own image. Ray endowed Feluda with his likes and dislikes, his preferences, his taste for some foods/snacks, his love for cigarette, his keen interests in peculiar and queer matters and above all his western demeanour. Ray also was never an anglicized Bengali. He was like Feluda, a modern, international but with an aritrocratic Bengali core within him. On the other hand the very appearence of Soumitra is representative of a Bengali -who is left in politics, a poet, romantic, shy and inclined to cultural activities. Ray might have, I am not sure, the same characteristic dispositions of Soumitra; but the gait and countenance of Ray was just the opposite of Soumitra. It was Ray and only Ray who could create his detective

Perhaps none in Bengal will come to my support in this matter. The most invincible logic against me can easily be derived from Ray’s own judgment.

In that case I may defend myself with slightly changing the old saying “To be biased is human”. And especially the erring comes from human weakness. Ray personally was biased for Soumitra.

11 April 2008

THE FIFTH ESTATE

The term blog came from ‘web log’. It is useless to write here as to what a blog is all about. There are millions of bloggers in today’s world. There is no such matter of human interest that does not have a place in this or that blog. With each day passed the voices of the bloggers are getting stronger. Somebody has recently commented that the bloggers as a whole is the conscience of the world. Blogs have come into existence as historical necessity just as once the fourth estate came into being. As per novelist Jeffery Archer in his work The Fourth Estate –that in May 1789 Louis XVI summoned to Versailles a full meeting of the ‘Estate General’. The First Estate consisted of three hundred clergy. The Second Estate, three hundred nobles. The Third Estate, six hundred commoners. Some years later, after the French Revolution, Edmund Burke, looking up at the Press Gallery of the House of Commons, said, “Yonder sits the Fourth Estate, and they are more important than them all”. We can not think of modern state without this Fourth estate-Press. But more the civilization progresses, individuality of man urges to exceed his collective wrappings. The Press can not express the voices of individual anger, protest, anguish, love, dream, idea and all that are hidden in collectivity. They lie in the arena of art and literature. But they form a pressure to mould a future collectivity. In an ideal society each individual is listened. Let every individual be a yardstick to measure progress-in my opinion. King liar, Raskolnikov, Paul Bäumer, Romeo or Gafur (Mahesh by Sarat Ch. Chatterjee) will not speak to us as living beings but a blogger is always there beside you to tell his or her stories and you will instantly be in a position to know where lie the lapses in society. Moreover the Press –like the other three estates is inclining to be corrupt everywhere in the world. The press is not outside the corporate industry in modern world. Karl Marx or the communists are right in finding –the vested interest in modern press. It’s not for the people alone and for the truth only –the press speaks out. As a business house the foremost concern of the press is profit. News is commodity to the press. So the living truth that burns only in the mind and heart of an individual blogger becomes the first casualty.

For the sake of perfecting democracy –the bloggers may help to a great extent. And there is no substitute for individual bloggers. Bloggers constitute the Fifth Estate. The role of the Fourth Estate will be better served with the Fifth.

The Press enjoys much freedom in a democratic state. But bloggers are not still safe from governmental attacks. In Singapore a blogger must register his blog with the government. In Liverpool Bloggers are being gagged by the Liverpool City Council. Kathy Sierra- a blogger says, “I’m saddened and angered at this horrible post.

I’ve been part of the blogging community for coming up on six years. I’ve seen fights, name calling and overall rude behavior, but I’ve never seen it get to the point where someone has death threats and dangerous and disgusting things said and posted directly at them. There are things you don’t joke about. Assault against women is one of those things at the top of the list. I’m speechless. I don’t know what else to say, but I had to get this out there.” So there are innumerable instances where bloggers are threatened and are compelled to change their way and also say.

So I think that bloggers all over the world must be united to come under a common umbrella –enforceable by international law. Blogs must be given the equal freedom as it is given in a democracy.

Time has come now so that we should also say in the words of Edmund Burke “Yonder sits the Fifth Estate, and they are more important than them all”

10 April 2008

I live in a state in India which is ruled by communists. Like every religion the communists are also of varied sects and hues. The communists who have been ruling my state for a long time are of that sect which supports China on every issue. So they would not say a single word against the tortures of the Tibetans by the Chinese Communist Party-which rules the People republic of China. Arunachal Pradesh is a state within India. But once Mao Zedong declared that the five lands –Sikkim, Nepal, Bhutan, Tibet and Arunachal Pradesh were representative of the five fingers of China’s palm. I do not know which palm he meant-right or left. Perhaps left-as they were created with the left hand of their creator. Among them Arunachal Pradesh is a state of India. China still holds her claim over this state. So here in India the Communists are also supportive of China’s Claim over Arunachal Pradesh. Mind that these very Communists are Indians! So this is natural that the communists of India are very much against the Tibetans struggling for their independence.

And what about the Government of India? The ruling coalition government is headed by the Indian National Congress or whatever is left as the dilapidated remnants of a great past. The Congress is ruling with the support of the communists. So this government would not say a single word against the Chinese tortures of the Tibetans. Even when the President of the IOC has chided the Chinese government on human right issue. Moreover there is none in this Congress like the undaunted Indira Gandhi-who –despite all her lapses, was a brave personality. In her time people would love to tell that there was only one man in her cabinet! But the bunch of politicians in the Congress now is afraid of China.

Tibet and India –from time immemorial were friends and there were spiritual bonds between these countries. Tibet was a religious state like the Vatican. And so she was more near to India spiritually than any other country in the world including China. Had Indira Gandhi been the first prime minister of India instead of her weak and visionless father she would not have supported Tibet’s forceful annexation with China.

Today there arise angers and protests from people in every place of the world against the cruel measures taken by the Chinese government to suppress the Tibetans’ struggle for freedom-India remains the exception thanks to the cowardice of the Indian National Congress –a party once a platform of voices of freedom raised by the great sons of India. The head of the states of the UK, Australia, South Korea, Mongolia, Nepal, Bangladesh, Kazakhstan, Kyrgyzstan, Tajikistsn, Georgia, Syria, Fiji, Serbia, Zambia, Sierra Leone and many other developed and developing countries have condemned China over her oppressive measures on the Tibetans. Raja Ram Mohan Roy while travelling in a ship got the news of American freedom from the colonial yoke and he became instantaneously ecstatic at that news and he celebrated the occasion. He initiated India with modernism. He was for liberty and freedom wherever it was suppressed whether it was in his own country or elsewhere. He would have been ashamed of today’s India or the India of Sonia Gandhi.

I am deeply anguished at what are happening in Tibet. Incidentally I had the occasions of meeting the Tibetan refugees in south India some years ago. It is heart-rending-this state of living in a land where one’s identity goes by the name ‘refugee’.

I can only let the people of Tibet know that I’m also a helpless prisoner of my sincerest emotion for these hapless people of this world –which is also my shelter. My flames of anger will only be doused when Tibet would be ruled by the Tibetans.

THE ROAD TO LHASA As a token of my reverence to the holy struggle of the Tibetans against the Chinese, I have become the member of BUDDHISTS AWAKENING.