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Books to look out for this week

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Balance: The Secret to True Health and Happiness in 13 Ways

Deanne Panday

Penguin India, Rs 350

We go about our lives in a rush-always busy, always tired. Often, we find our joy diminished and our health affected. Bestselling author and wellness coach Deanne Panday sees this all too often around her. Through her wheel-of-life programme, she focuses on the thirteen vital elements that each individual needs to be happy, healthy and successful-including physical wellness, career, home environment, joy, financial stability, understanding the effects of climate change, and more. Each chapter focuses on one aspect and has simple, easy-to-follow advice, along with tips and activities that will be your key to a blissful life. The wheel-of-life programme helps you customise it to your life.

In the Year of Sahir: Diary 2021

Nasreen Munni Kabir

Westland, Rs 499

Sahir Ludhianvi is remembered as one of the greatest poets and lyricists of Hindi cinema. He wrote in Urdu and Hindi and many of the songs he wrote went on to become hugely popular. This diary is a tribute to his work and his life. It includes reminiscences by his great contemporaries like Lata Mangeshkar, Asha Bhonsle and Gulzar, as well as pieces by younger directors and film-makers who observed him at close quarters or were inspired by him, such as Naseeruddin Shah and Rajesh Roshan. As an elegantly laid out diary, it is the perfect companion to write in and dip into for all of 2021. 

50 Toughest Questions of Life

Deepak Ramola

Penguin India, Rs 250

Deepak Ramola’s quest began after he was inspired by the life lesson of a young girl who said, ‘Life is not about giving easy answers, but answering tough questions.’ Over the years, Ramola has amassed life lessons from inspirational sources across the world: from the women of the Maasai tribe to young girls in Afghanistan and sex workers in Kamathipura; from the lessons of earthquake survivors in Nepal to Syrian refugees in Europe, among many more. This book is a collection of 50 such questions that made him pause, along with a bouquet of answers, anecdotes, stories and notes from his journey of teaching human wisdom for a decade.

The Kitty Party Murder

Kiran Manral

HarperCollins India, Rs 299

Kanan Mehra, a.k.a. Kay, is bored to the gills with mommyhood, when her detective friend, Runa, asks her to help in a suicide investigation. Kay must infiltrate a ladies’ kitty group and try to unearth their deepest, darkest secrets. Since this includes all-you-can-eat buffet lunches at a new restaurant every month, and the chance to show off newly acquired diamonds, she agrees. As Kay and Runa try to get to the truth behind the suicide, the building complex is shaken by another mysterious death. The answers they seek lie buried under fancy meals, designer dresses and serious bling but will Kay risk everything to get to them?

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A refreshing approach to the topic of spirituality

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The young find that they have confused ‘pleasures’ with ‘happiness’ and ‘comfort’ with ‘inner peace’. This line sure hit home. In a world where we are conditioned that “independence” can be achieved a certain way, people often lose track of what actually gives them true happiness and inner peace.

Published by Rupa Publications, author Aditya Nath’s Awaken Your Soulprint is an eye-opener that explores the subject of “spirituality” and “soulful living” with an absolutely unbiased and unique perspective. The book provides straightforward and clear advice on the importance of discovering your inner self and how you can carve a ‘spiritual’ path for yourself to find your inner self or what he describes as a ‘soulprint’.

Actually, the first chapter’s title, “Don’t sell your Ferrari to be a monk” caught my attention and after reading that chapter, I could not stop flipping the pages. This book is refreshing in its approach to the topic of spirituality. It does not equate ‘spirituality’ with giving-up-worldly-possessions. In fact, it enunciates on how our “material” and our “spiritual” worlds go hand in hand. I cannot agree more with this opinion—when we have created a space for our loved ones in this world and shared a lifetime of memories and joy with them, it is but fair and right to be able to enjoy the material possessions that we have earned via grit and hard work.

Overall, I like the simplicity in which all the concepts and guidelines to achieve a higher existence are explained. This book for me is an easy guide that is helping me on my path to understanding and discovering true happiness and success.

For me, every page resonated wisdom, depth and clarity. I would recommend it to anyone who is searching to create a balance between their inner self and the world around them; to those who have already found the balance and to those who are completely new to this concept of spirituality. Read it, ruminate on it and read it again…

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I ENSURED PADMINI IS EQUAL TO VIJAY AS A DETECTIVE: AUTHOR GIRIDHARAN

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RBI officer and author R. Giridharan spoke about the research and fieldwork behind his debut book ‘Right Under our Nose’, choosing a tier-2 city as the backdrop and a male and a female detective teaming up as equals to nab the murderer.

Q. What influenced you to write ‘Right Under our Nose’? What sort of research went into it?

A. It is a Howdunnit and Whodunnit novel. I believe any reader will wonder about the manner in which murders are committed. I strongly believe that Indian murder mysteries don’t offer the Howdunnit thrill as say an Agatha Christie novel would. ‘Right Under our Nose’ (published by Rupa Publications) is an attempt to rectify that undesirable piece of history. It is also probably the only story where a male and a female detective pair up as equals. It is set up in a tier-2 Indian city Nagpur. I wanted to popularise my two pet themes: imagination can trump technology any day and the answer to every question is right under our nose but we look everywhere else. 

This book involved a lot of research and fieldwork. I spent three days with a snake charmer. I visited many morgues to see dead bodies. I spoke to many toxicologists and read up books on toxicology. Doing fieldwork required: travelling to different places, availability of key people and getting them to talk.

Q. How did your job help you in shaping up and adding nuances to the book? 

A. I get to meet a lot of people during the office work and interactions keep happening. They become the bread and butter for descriptions. Various mannerisms of different characters can be gleaned from office interactions. Descriptiona of events also become more realistic as you are describing the events as they actually happen. I admit that the plot has nothing to do with the office or job. My job took me to Manegaonkar, the man who tirelessly typed and re-typed various versions of my manuscript as I wrote by hand. Dr Anjali Goel, the bank’s designated medical consultant, helped me with a lot of medical details which is a crucial element in the story. I commentate on All India Radio. I have covered Test Matches, ODI’s, T-20s, and World Cup matches as well. On television, I come as an expert panellist. I also give voice-overs for advertisements and short promos. I was always a sports lover but had limitations as an athlete. I was an umpire (state level) for a decade before donning the commentator’s hat. The mateship in these assignments inspires me to write as most of the people in these fields are creative and risk-takers.

Q. What made you decide upon keeping Nagpur as a backdrop and incorporating characters from all over the country in your novel?

A. I wanted to write about a tier-2 Indian city. Most Indian books are either about metropolitan Mumbai and Delhi, small hamlets, picturesque hill stations or even IT hubs like Bengaluru so tier-2 cities are neglected. The choice was between Nagpur and Jaipur, but I chose Nagpur probably because it was slightly bigger and more cosmopolitan than Jaipur. I brought characters from all over the country which is more realistic of Nagpur. I didn’t want to get into the trap of regionalism and the pan Indian feel is entirely different, it is like our sports teams.

Q. How enjoyable was it to flesh out a murderer who is always one step ahead of Vijay and Padmini?

A. It was both enjoyable and challenging. I had to make the antagonist powerful. The antagonist must be envied, feared, loathed, and hated. People should get ghoulish because of antagonist’s eventual defeat. The character was deadly, diabolical, ruthless, cocky, and in your face. A never say die antagonist, who seems too slippery, kept the readers engaged till the end. The antagonist helped Vijay and Padmini shine even more. It was someone like ‘Jackal’ in the day of the Jackal.

Q. Did creating romance as a sub-plot help in making ‘Right Under our Nose’ more engaging? What was the reason behind adding a dose of romance in your work?

A. It is not a necessity but certainly adds zing and zest to the story. A romantic plot moving alongside the main plot is spicy. It also gives more depth to the characters. After all, a detective is also a human being so the human aspect of the character comes out better with romantic involvement as romance has its own twists, turns, and tests. It also helps readers to identify with the characters a bit more. In this novel, I ensured Padmini is equal to Vijay as a detective and has as much space as him. I also wanted to show the positive side of romance at risk where each partner motivates the other and also acts as an ideal foil.

Q. What do you hope readers take away from this book? 

A. I hope they appreciated these things:

1. A howdunit and whodunit in a typical Indian context can rival foreign ones.

2. I plan to write a sequel so I hope they liked the characters.

3. They got to discover some enlightening things about snake training, snake venom and more

4. The fact that all answers lie ‘right under your nose’

5. Imagination can trump big bucks and technology

Q. In your opinion what is the reason behind the enduring appeal of the murder mystery novels? 

A. Such novels challenge the readers’ intellect and imagination. There is also a context between the detective and the murderer. Unexpected twists and turns keep the reader engrossed and murder mysteries often involve a complex web of human relationships. So, it has everything that an individual wants. 

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AN EMPOWERING POST-ME TOO NOVEL ABOUT WOMEN SPEAKING UP

With the Sharma women’s haunting family saga, presented in her new book, ‘Civil Lines’, author Radhika Swarup sends out a message of hope and empowerment to women who dream of a brighter, safer future.

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Radhika Swarup’s Civil Lines brings together several topical issues and sends out an important message in the wake of the MeToo movement.

When Maya and Siya Sharma start the monthly magazine The Satirist out of their crumbling residence in Civil Lines, they not only resurrect their late mother’s dream but also unearth a secret which lay at the core of their relationship with each other. With the Sharma women’s haunting family saga, presented in her new book, Civil Lines, Radhika Swarup sends out a message of hope and empowerment to women who dream of a brighter, safer future.

In an interview with The Sunday Guardian, the author discusses her new book and what inspired it. Excerpts:

Q: Civil Lines presents a powerful and uplifting story in the post-MeToo era. What led you to broach that subject in the book?

A: I had been thinking for some time of writing about a family haunted by their mother’s trauma, but the precise contours of the story weren’t clear to me. Then the Me Too saga began to unfold in 2016. Suddenly people were talking more about these issues, and everything fell into place; a bereft Rupa Sharma, a decaying house, a diffident Maya, an isolated Siya.

I saw how someone like Rupa, articulate, proud and assertive, could have allowed her life to be contained in a house that crumbled around her. Writing the novel so long after the defining event of the book had taken place also allowed me to delve into the long-reaching and lasting damage a ‘casual’ overture can have and to show how perpetrators can continue to paint themselves as victims.

When I began to write the book though, I knew I couldn’t leave the house in disrepair or the sisters estranged. They all felt like such a metaphor for a truncated way of life and for a country that has endured—and overcome—so much that I knew the book had to have a hopeful ending. The recent court ruling acquitting journalist Priya Ramani bears out my belief in this justice.

Q: From crafting the central characters to dealing with tough subjects like sexual harassment and trauma, what sort of emotional investment did the book require from you as an author?

A: Writing the book was a form of catharsis. I’ve always found writing to be a release, and as I saw the MeToo movement unfurl across the world from 2016 onwards, I was angered not only by the universality of the powerful abusing the weak but also disheartened by the apparent lack of any real or lasting solutions. There was some performative outrage, but there were always so many apologists for the perpetrators, and so many people who cast aspersions on the victims. When it came to writing Civil Lines though, the fates of my protagonists were largely in my hands, which was empowering. I say largely as my characters didn’t always behave as I first conceived. Tasha-di, for instance, initially rationalises the abuse her best friend suffers, but understanding her viewpoint was important for my writing journey too. It was useful for me to see that someone I disagreed with so fundamentally was essentially good and well-intentioned.

Q: Why did you choose to set the novel in Delhi? What is the significance of a decaying house in Civil Lines?

A: The genesis of the novel lies not so much in Delhi but in a Delhi house I visited some years ago. It was in a sad state of disrepair and a powerful feeling of melancholy pervaded its walls. It got me thinking about what could possibly have led its owners to allow it to decay so badly, and I’m not talking about not being houseproud, but about allowing damp and dirt to flourish in a home, and about allowing peeling plaster and exposed wires to assert control. I kept thinking of the house long after I had left it, and I kept wondering about the fortunes of its inhabitants, who appeared to me to have simply lost hope in life.

And, of course, in a rapidly changing and modernising India, a neighbourhood called Civil Lines remains a constant in most cities. It is synonymous with inherited privilege, and equally, with a sort of irreversible decay. I was interested in exploring the idea of an old house, of imagining an old way of life still being lived as the world changed around it, and as the Sharma women came into the frame, I became consumed with the idea of the house decaying as Rupa Sharma’s life disintegrated. The name of the area—Civil Lines—also felt poignant against the backdrop of the type of journalism the sisters were trying to espouse.

Q: Does The Satirist as a motif indicate the need for honest and fearless reporting and writing in the world today?

A: Honest and fearless journalism is always needed, and as you note, The Satirist attempts to shine a light on stories that are often overlooked. The truth is that we have all become a little tribal and a little more thin-skinned of late. Social media hasn’t helped as it has allowed the shrillest to be handed a megaphone. Having said that, I see debate and dissent flourishing across the world, as they must. This holds true for the proudest democracies and for the more authoritarian parts of the world, and in that I see some promising torchbearers for The Satirist.

Q: What would you like the reader to take back from Civil Lines? Would you say fiction is an effective tool of driving home an important message?

A: I fervently believe that fiction allows people to inhabit another’s skin, and in so doing, allows them to understand another’s perspective. That empathy is so often lacking in today’s partisan discourse, but I took great heart when my debut novel, Where the River Parts, which looked at Partition, was read and appreciated by people across the political divide.

I hope for the same fate for Civil Lines, and in that vein, I hope for it to be read not only as a woman’s novel but as a deeply human one. I hope that people who wouldn’t normally be able to understand the compulsions of a Rupa Sharma—the feudal matriarchs, the fathers of sons, the school child with their life stretching out before them and, yes, the powerful man—are able to walk a little in her shoes and feel for what her life was.

Q: What are you writing next?

A: I’ve been writing a series of linked short stories about the neighbourhood I grew up in in Delhi. I’ve been unable to visit India for over a year due to the pandemic, and so my mind has invariably been occupied by thoughts of family and home. It is a love letter of sorts to the Delhi of my childhood.

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BOOKS TO LOOK OUT FOR THIS WEEK

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Karunanidhi: A Life

A.S. Panneerselvan

Writer-turned-politician Muthuvel Karunanidhi is amongst the most important political figures India has ever seen. He was the chief minister of Tamil Nadu for five terms and leader of the Dravida Munnetra Kazhagam (DMK) for over five decades. Still remembered for his controversial but fruitful career as a regional leader, his contribution to Tamil history, politics and culture has been invaluable. Meticulously researched and deeply engrossing, Karunanidhi: A Life delves into the life and times of this giant leader in Tamil politics.

Indians: A Brief History of a Civilization

Namit Arora

Namit Arora takes us on an unforgettable journey through 5,000 years of history, reimagining in rich detail the social and cultural moorings of Indians through the ages. Enlivening the narrative with the idiosyncratic perspectives of the many famous foreign travellers who visited India over millennia, local folklore and his own inimitable insights, Arora guides us through six iconic places—the Harappan city of Dholavira, the Ikshvaku capital at Nagarjunakonda, the Buddhist centre of learning at Nalanda, enigmatic Khajuraho, Vijayanagar at Hampi, and Varanasi.

India Today, India Tomorrow

Baijayant ‘Jay’ Panda

India was marching ahead to become a significant power at the world stage. But then Covid-19 struck, leaving the country—as also the rest of the world—reeling under its catastrophic impact. While it gives the pandemic a good fight, India mustn’t lose vision of the future that its leadership had envisaged for it. How indeed does the India of tomorrow look like? Edited by Baijayant ‘Jay’ Panda, this volume offers a navigation plan from India today to India tomorrow in the voices of the very people holding the reigns to the future.

Louiz Banks: A Symphony of Love

Ashis Ghatak

Pushkar Bahadur Budapriti was not only the best trumpet player in Darjeeling of the 1950s, but he was also an unsparing father every time his son Dambar played a wrong note. When Pushkar became George Banks to gel with the names of his English bandmates, he rechristened Dambar Bahadur Budapriti as Louiz Banks. The musical journey of Louiz Banks, the Indian counterpart to the modern-day Jazz legends like Herbie Hancock and Chick Correa, spans over five decades and is steeped in surprising twists and turns. Packed with anecdotes, the book gives a fascinating insight into life of the dynamic musician.

Eating in the Age of Dieting

Rujuta Diwekar

Rujuta Diwekar is amongst the most followed nutritionists globally, and a leading health advocate. Over the past decade, her writings have decisively shifted food conversations across the country away from fads and towards eating local, seasonal and traditional. Her mantra, ‘eat local, think global’, blends the wisdom of our grandmothers with the latest advances in nutrition science for sustainable good health for all. The book is a collection of some of her most-loved writings on: Diet trends and food myths; festival and seasonal foods; quick tips for good health; superfoods in the kitchen; among others.

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Social dilemma in the life of a teenager

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Author Vibha Batra discusses the challenges and joys of penning her first graphic novel for young adults.

The book, The Secret Life of Debbie G., by Vibha Batra is a coming-of-age story of a 16-year-old girl Soundarya (who prefers to go by the name Arya), a plus-size south Indian teen studying in a prestigious Delhi school. She is raised by a single mother. Arya is bullied in school but things change when she becomes an online sensation overnight and struggles to deal with this new-found fame and attention. The Secret Life of Debbie G. (published by HarperCollins) is set in contemporary times where social media dictates a big part of a teenager’s life. The story presents the impact of social media on teenage behaviour and emotional health.

Q. What influenced you to pen down ‘The Secret Life of Debbie G.’?

A. It all started when my editor asked me if I’d write a graphic novel for young adults. I replied, ‘Yes, of course! Right away!’ with all the confidence of someone who’s never written a graphic novel before. And then, I dived headlong into the world of comic books and graphic novels.

Q. How did you weave the hypocrisy of society, sensitive topics and certain critical issues in the book?

A. All these elements came together organically. The characters were real to me, and I was happy having a heart-to-heart conversation with them on a daily basis. At other times, I was content being a fly on the wall and watching their shenanigans from afar. 

Q. What did it take for you to step into the mind of 16-year-old Arya in terms of attention to detail, conversation, banter with friends and tackling issues that bothered her?

A. I like to think of myself as a young adult so it wasn’t very difficult to step into the mind of a teenager. I guess being a teenager at some point in your life is inspiration enough to write Young Adult fiction. And I was fortunate enough to have had a sufficiently traumatic teenhood. So, no dearth of material there.

Q. Tell us about the challenges of writing a graphic novel? 

A. There are plenty of challenges especially if you haven’t written a graphic novel before. But I guess if you read enough of them and get down to writing it and keep at it, it all comes together eventually. As for the process, my editor commissioned me to write a graphic novel. I bounced off a couple of ideas of her. She liked this one best. I worked on a couple of drafts. When the final draft (that we both did a happy dance for) was done, she commissioned an illustrator. And voila! Kalyani Ganapathy, my super-brilliant C-in-C (Collaborator-in-Crime), came on board.

Q. Take us through the collaborative process with illustrator Kalyani Ganapathy?

A. Kalyani shared different approaches and tons of references and made the entire process super-fun. It was so exciting (still is, always will be) to see something that had existed only in my head come alive. I just love how the book looks. The characters, the little details, the cover, everything.

Q. What do you hope readers take away from ‘The Secret Life of Debbie G.’?

A. If it can make them laugh, good. If it can make them think, better. 

Q. In your opinion, how can overnight fame and stardom impact the mind of a teenager, a generation that pretty much grew up with the internet?

A. I guess success could go to anybody’s head especially if it comes too soon, too easily. It could lead them to think and behave as if it’s the only thing that matters, the only thing that’s real, and worse, that it isn’t fleeting. Failure would be way easier to handle.

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A SUPERSTAR WHO LOVED TO DEFY STEREOTYPES

The book explores the life of Soumitra Chatterjee, his relations with Satyajit Ray and why he once punched Ritwik Ghatak in the face.

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Soumitra Chatterjee has been so many things and has played so many roles in his long career that to pin him down and look for an easy definition can only be counter-productive. And perhaps pointless! Actors are complicated people, oddly conflicted as only people whose profession is to pretend to be other people can be. Moreover, Soumitra has always chafed at being pigeonholed in any strict category. He never settled into a comfortable groove as an actor, and refused to let acting come in the way of his other pursuits. In fact, sixty years into a celebrated career on screen, he is now enthused most about his projects in theatre, his poetry and his painting. Soumitra has always been a private person, even though paradoxically enough, he can be very outspoken and frank when he wants to. He can be the quintessentially refined and well-educated intellectual, or he will caustically tell you that there have been few people in the industry as foul-mouthed as him. It is possible that he switches through personas from his repertoire in real life like a skilled actor can from role to role. It is more probable that they are different facets of a complex nature.

Soumitra has written and spoken at length about his views on not just his craft, but on all the varied subjects that he is passionate about. Sometimes, there are glimpses into his personal life, but they are elusive and always aware of the fine line between what is private and what is fit for public consumption. He is a careful man that way, but it also has to do with deep-rooted insecurities that go back a long way to his childhood. He says that as an actor he is used to expressing himself through different personas and voices. He has always found it difficult to speak about his own experiences in his own voice. In this, he is not unusual. An actor has to contend with the fact that everyone knows not him but the roles he has played. There are many celebrated cases of actors who have never quite come to terms with this.

He had a happy childhood in Krishnanagar, but there were unexpected anxieties. He remembers how his relatives did not think much about the way he looked. There are pictures of him that are less than flattering. He grew up thinking that he was not particularly good-looking. This made him self-conscious which he tried to cover up with a lively boisterousness. It hid a sensitivity that made it difficult for him to express his true self to the world.

His family was involved with the local theatre scene and he started acting in the natural course of things. It would become a proper vocation much later in Calcutta under the tutelage of Sisir Kumar Bhaduri. Yet even in his boyhood forays he won praise and a fair bit of local renown. This became a very liberating experience for him, allowing him to mask his insecurities by freely becoming someone else. This preference for a mask or person as a mediator between his intensely shy self and the public at large has continued for the rest of his life. Even decades later, he still does not believe in autobiographies. He doubts whether anyone would want to know anything about his life, or even whether it is possible to really encapsulate a person in his complicated totality in a book. Above all, he wonders whether it would matter. He would rather be known by his work. Yet the unusual trajectory of his career and his choices as an artist have perhaps revealed more about the kind of person he is than a full-length expository tract on his personal life could ever have.

It is not as if he wants his life to be shrouded in mystery. If you ask anyone who has interviewed him over the years, they will tell you that he can be quite forthcoming. His passionate nature can quite often be fiery. He has no qualms about telling you about the time he punched Ritwik Ghatak in the face. Apparently, it was during the turbulent years in the late 1970s when the industry was going through a crisis, and there was a meeting called between all the stakeholders to resolve the issue. Soumitra says Ritwik who had a foul-mouth was keeping up a steady stream of insults directed at Satyajit Ray who was not present. Soumitra understood that he was trying to rile him up. It was definitely annoying but he did not respond because he did not think someone like Ray needed anyone to defend him. Eventually Ritwik, failing to draw blood with his taunts at Ray, directed a few snarky comments at Soumitra who refused to take it lying down. He caught him by the collar, felled him with a punch and told him off in no uncertain terms:‘You’re not dealing with a mild-mannered bhadrolok here,’ he remembers saying.

However, this has never stopped him from freely acknowledging Ritwik’s massive talent. He regrets never having had the opportunity to work with him. He had come very close, and was even supposed to meet him, but Ritwik turned up very late and drunk. Soumitra did not like that. He had been schooled in the hard school of professionalism by Ray, and he was not likely to make any exceptions for anybody.

Yet when it came to his mentors, Sisir Kumar and Ray, he was always the attentive and humble student. In fact, it is his dedicated loyalty to his mentors that is perhaps the most representative feature of his character. He is the quintessential company man, if by company one means the people he looked up to for intellectual and artistic guidance. He has written at length about the various technical accomplishments of Sisir Kumar as an actor and his massive contribution to Bengali theatre. He tirelessly defends him against what he thinks is ignorant or misplaced criticism. He met Sisir Kumar when the legend was at the end of his career. There was a significant difference between their ages. There was not enough time for them to forge a long and intimate relationship. Sisir Kumar remained a distant god he adored and from whom he learnt the foundations of his craft.

He is perhaps too close to the works of Ray (having acted in most of his films) to write about him in the same manner but in his The Master and I, he has written fondly about his time spent with the master. The fact that Ray acted the role of a surrogate parent in his life is probably a pretty easy deduction to make. Ray chose him, moulded him, and set him off upon his career. He was a paternal figure responsible for the beginning of his new life as a film actor. Furthermore, he kept a watchful eye on him all his life. Soumitra ascribes everything he knows about films to him. Even when he resumed theatre in earnest, Ray was there with his honest and helpful critiques. And like a true father figure, he would take him to task as well. Once when they were shooting Devi, Ray in an irritable mood discovered that Soumitra had not brought his dialogue sheets from the hotel. The location was more than a mile from the hotel, and Soumitra had already gone through costume and make-up. Ray peremptorily told him to go and get it. Humiliation comes easy to a young man, and Soumitra felt both hurt and angry. It was a knock on the head and as he later realised, a manifestation of Ray’s fondness for him too. Ray’s influence over the actor went beyond films, and he eventually became his guide in all matters of life, big and small. He was his family in a way no one in the industry has ever been. This is more than apparent in the manner he writes about him.

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