Friday, February 22, 2013

Share Paanch Bela ( সাড়ে পাঁচ বেলা ) by Rajat Shubhra Bandyopadhyay- A book reveiw

A quintessential Bengali worth his salt would have delved into the lyrical nonsense of Sukumar Roy in his childhood and remembered them for a lifetime. Abol Tabol , that famous book of rhymes and poems of Sukumar Ray , had the inherent power to transform any reader to the realm of nonsense and jabberwocky much like Lewis Carol's Alice in Wonderland. Filled with more humour than satire the creations of Ray dealt with themes  as bizarre as the "theft of a moustache" or "hybrid animals,"  Supported by excellent sketches of Ray, Abol Tabol remains a landmark in the literary history of Bengal. Since Ray's untimely death at a very young age, attempts have been made to translate to English this book of yesteryear (first published in 1923, a few days before Ray's death)  few times starting with the one by his illustrious son and filmmaker , Satyajit Ray in 1970  and the latest by Sampurna Chattarji in 2004. The poems have also been put to songs and some have been animated to cartoons alongside the soundtrack.

But for the first time in 9 decades , someone has attempted to rewrite some of the poems of Abol Tabol by changing the gender of the protagonists in those poems. Sukumar Ray's rhymes have been criticised by the female readers ever since ,for not having a single female protagonist in any of his creations.  Now Rajat Shubra Bandyopadhyay , an IIT educated architect by profession and a nonsensical poet in heart, has attempted to do just this. Rajat has recreated 13 themes from the rhymes in Abol Tabol with a female lead . Rajat's book Share Paanch Bela ( সাড়ে পাঁচ বেলা )  contains 13 tremendous gender-recreations of Ray's Abol Tabol  along with 69 other creations, most of which are rhymes, poems . A few are short stories  about a character called Neruda , sketched much after Pagla Dasu of Sukumar Ray. Of course Rajat admits in his characteristic style (in the introduction) that quite a lot of his creations have been plagiarised from & modelled after Sukumar Ray's style of writing  and he is specially proud of that ("এই বইএর বহু লেখার ধাঁচ শ্রী সুকুমার রায়ের লেখা থেকে চুরি করা। এর জন্য লেখক বিশেষ  ভাবে গর্বিত।")

The themes of Rajat's creations cover the peculiar behaviour of animals & other non-speaking creatures like insects & fishes as well as peculiar men and women besides poems that juxtapose satires on present day political situations among lines that always rhyme and possibly have some set-meter that one day somebody interested could put into melodies. Humour is always dripping in all his creations and some of them keep the laughter hanging from the lips of the readers hours after reading them. Just like the  taste of pudding can be sensed by  eating it , Rajat's marvellous book of rhymes can be better appreciated by consuming them and bringing back the humour that seems to have been lost in the opportunistic & self-serving  times of the present.
To give you a sense of what's in store for the readers, I'm reproducing one of Rajat's creations,called   মানুষের মতন মানুষ (A suitable person), here.

মানুষের মতন মানুষ

মানুষ বড়ই আজব প্রাণী,
বিচিত্র আর ভেকধারী,
হরেক সময় হরেক মুখোশ,
রঙ - বেরঙ্গের , ঝকমারি।

আজকে যদি ডাইনে বেঁকে
ত্রিশূল হাতে লাফ মারে,
কালকে তবে বাঁদিক ঘেঁসে
কাস্তে শানায় বার বারে।

সমস্ত দিন ধান্দাবাজি,
মুর্গি ধরার ফন্দি রে!
সন্ধে হতেই খোলস ছেড়ে
পড়ছে ঢুকে মন্দিরে।

সুযোগ পেলেই নন্দীগ্রামে
ভৃঙ্গি হয়ে নাচতে যায়,
ওমনি আবার নারদ রূপে
সিঙ্গুর গিয়ে মন ভাঙ্গায়!

হঠাৎ কেমন হায়না সেজে
লোলুপ চোখে ঠোঁট চাটে,
তারপরেতেই আয়না দেখে
মুখ ভেঙ্গিয়ে জিভ কাটে!

তাইতো আমি ঠিক করেছি,
আর একটিবার জন্মাবো,
হবোই হবো পাগলা কুকুর,
মানুষ পেলেই কামড়াবো !!

Although the pictures  in Share Paanch Bela  (done by Ardhendu Sarkar) could have been better and the book too could have been fatter; still at 150 bucks , Rajat's third book is a must-buy for anyone who still have some humour left in him/her  or is looking to rewake the same. Share Paanch is a nice book to gift to younger generations and oldies alike and is available from the publisher,Presidency Library's address at 15, Bankim Chatterjee Stree , Kolkata-700073, ph: 22416138. 


Haridaspal said...

Thank you for a wonderful review. Pity I never saw this earlier. :)

JAS said...

You are welcome! Wish your AaGjubi blog have more postings! Glad you saw the review in this liftime, at least :-)