Satire and Thoughtfulness

Anirban Biswas

The book* under review is a compilation of thirty nine short pieces published earlier at different points of time and in different journals and newspapers. The pieces are in general commentaries on various issues that figured in public debates and discourses from time to time. The author, as the general tone of the pieces suggest, is a sharp-witted Bengali and in temperament, Bengali to the bones. This is borne out by the manner in which he comments on the functioning of the news media and doordar-shan, and on the lack of sense of proportion on the part of ministers, political leaders and other prominent persons. A few pieces are richly informative. For example, the piece on Indranath Bandopadhyay, first published in 1958 in the then-famous periodical Parichay acquaints the reader with a near-forgotten literary figure who was the creator of satirical novel in Bengali literature.

Most of the pieces are devoted to various problems of city life in Bengal, and unbalanced judgements on Bengali achievements. One or two pieces are scathing indictments on the standard of journalism. Some are memories, dealing with the author's association with personalities like Nripendra Sanyal, Sandipan Chatterjee and Hiren Basu. It may be mentioned in passing that in his memoir Babu Brittanta Samar Sen wrote that he would not forget about Sanyal's help in launching Frontier. Hiren Basu, the founder-editor of weekly Darpan spared two rooms of his office for Frontier. It was this address [61, Mott Lane, Kolkata-700013] from which Frontier was published for more than fifty years till its recent ouster from it.

What is noteworthy is the author's caution against various kinds of exeggerations in glorification of Bengal and Bengalis. For example, he has severely criticised some cricketers' and newspapers' worship of Saurav Ganguli in an exaggerated manner. It is however time that to a considerable section of Bengalis, persons like Saurav Ganguli serve the hotter curry. Bengali nationalism could not prevent the partition of Bengal on religious lines and now it is trying to make up for past failures by such success. The author could have mentioned this stark fact.

*Bisay Bibidha
(Miscellaneous Themes)
by Asim Som
Raktakarabi, Kolkata-7
Hard Bound, 147 pages, Price Rs 200

Vol. 51, No. 43, Apr 28 - May 4, 2019