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Nabaneeta Deb Sen: Wit, brilliance, guts shaped literary ouvre




Nabaneeta Dev Sen once said she took up the pen because there was no escape for her as “everybody who came to our house, was a writer”. It was a typical witty take on her childhood, the sort of sharp humour that pervades most of the engrossing large body of works spanning all literary genres which Dev Sen effortlessly delved into, and almost always struck gold”.

The immensely talented Dev Sen, known for the life force in both her persona and literary creations, spontaneously wore multiple feathers in her cap – she was a brilliant student, internationally acclaimed academician, linguist, polyglot, thinker, a liberal, a curious globe trotter, mesmerising speaker, and one who fearlessly expressed her mind on various issues affecting the society and the polity.

Born in Kolkata (then Calcutta) on January 13, 1938, to the poet-couple Narendra Dev and Radharani Devi, Dev Sen delightfully listened to her mother reading out to her poems from Rabindranath Tagore’s immortal composition for children “Sishu” (child).

But her childhood was really shaped by the historic happenings of the period, of which Kolkata – “luckily” as she said later – was the epicentre.

The experience of living in air raid shelters during World War 2, the famine of 1946 when she saw “famished people begging for a morsel of thrown away rice water” and dogs fighting with men and women for leftover food in the dustbin, left an indelible impression in the small girl’s mind.

Then came the Calcutta riots “in which we lost my father’s best friend” and the flood of refugees in 1947-48 soon after the country’s partition. Suddenly, the city seemed to be teeming with people, all struggling to make a living and begin life afresh.

Dev Sen grew up in this milieu, and her scholarship took root in some of the finest institutions of the city – Gokhale Memorial Girls’ School, Lady Brabourne College, Presidency College and Jadavpur University from where she obtained her M.A. degree.

Side by side, her literary endeavours took flight.

Dev Sen’s first collection of Bengali poems Pratham Pratyay was published in 1959, months before she got married to economist Amartya Sen and moved to England.

Interestingly, her second book came out in the 1970s after she got divorced from Sen, who later won the Nobel prize for Economics.

In between, however, she wrote poems, with some of the compositions Apoignant in their portrayal of the marriage breaking up and her painstaking effort to hold on to her life.

Dev Sen Ajoined the comparative literature department of Jadavpur University, from where she retired as a professor in 2002.

She obtained a Masters from Harvard University, and completed her PhD from Indiana University, and did her post-doctoral research at the University of California at Berkeley and Newnham College, Cambridge University.

It was also one of the most productive phases of her literary career.

Her first novel Ami Anupam (1976)A was about the Naxalite movement, and also talked about the intellectual dilemma of the so-called intellectuals of Bengal during those turbulent times.

In all, Dev Sen has to her credit close to 100 books spanning almost all literary genre – Bengali poetry, short stories, plays, novels , literary criticism, essays, travelogues, humour writing and translations.

She also delved into children’s literature, churning out popular and engrossing fairy tales and adventure stories, with girls as protagonist. There, the princess goes to rescue the prince, the queen decides everything.

Dev Sen gave credit to her parents.

“Both of them were children’s writers. My father even used to edit a children’s magazine.for 25 years,” she once said.

Dev Sen researched for years on “Ramkatha”, playing a pioneering role in analysing it from Sita’s point of view. “Chandrabati Ramayan” is one of her ble works. Her witty and fun-filled takes on the epics and their characters also provided much joy to the readers.

Venerated writer Sirshendu Mukhopadhyay doffed his hat to Dev Sen.

“She was so full of life. She was like a dynamo, a prolific writer. Whichever literary genre she delved in, she struck gold. She was witty and had her own style of writing.

“Whenever she sat beside me, I could sense her life force. She had asthma since childhood, she often suffered, but I never heard her complaining about her health or remaining glum,” he said.

Mukhopadhyay described Dev Sen as a gutsy woman, who travelled all over the world, “on many occasions alone”, and came up with great adventure stories.

Dev Sen won the Sahitya Akademi for her autobiographical humour writing Nati Naba-Nita in 1999, and a year later was honoured with the Padma Shri – the fourth highest civilian award in India.

Celebrated Bengali poet Joy Goswami referred to some “priceless serious essays” penned by Deb Sen.

“It was from her that we got serious essays like Ishwarer Protidwandi o Anyanyo (God’s Rival and Others). Another great series was Bhalobasar Baranda. From college goers to 80 year olds, everybody waited eagerly for these pieces,” he said.

Her works also dealt with varied themes like homosexuality, AIDS, child abuse, and obsession, uprootedness, immigration and exile, but there was never any sloganeering.

“I have only written what I saw. So there is no scope for raising any slogans,” she once said.

However, writing for children seemed her biggest passion.

“I have one aspiration. I think as long as I can write, I hope and pray, I can write for children, and children read me,” she said at the age of 80.

Dev Sen was also worried about the distractions drawing away children from literature.

“We have to work very hard to incorporate the magic in our words., or get the colour in our words. We must get first rate illustrators,” she said.

But with her advanced years, realisation dawned on Dev Sen that life is not a fairy tale.

“You have to make it a fairy tale. You have the right and power to make it a fairy tale,” she advised youngsters.


Sahher Bambba to be seen in B Praak music video along with Emraan Hashmi




Actress Sahher Bambba, who was last seen in the rom com ‘Dil Bekaraar’, is set to star in a yet-to-be-titled music video along with Emraan Hashmi and performed by B Praak.

The actress has been a fan of B Praak’s tracks so when the opportunity came knocking on her doors, she jumped on it.

Sharing her feelings when she first got to know about the collaboration, she said, “Working with Emraan and B Praak was a dream come true.”

Talking about her love for B Praak’s music, she says, “I’ve been a huge fan of B Praak’s music. I used to listen to his music on loop and when this opportunity came my way to collaborate with Emraan and B Praak, I was on cloud nine. It was such a fun experience working with the two of them.”

The song, which will soon hit the airwaves, has been produced by Raj Jaiswal under the music label DRJ Records, with the lyrics of the song penned by Jaani and B Praak, both of whom have also composed the song with B Praak going behind the mic for the track.

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Lin Laishram thanks Priyanka Chopra for acknowledging lack of diversity in ‘Mary Kom’




Actress Lin Laishram, who impressed audiences with her performance in the movie ‘Axone’, has praised Priyanka Chopra Jonas for acknowledging lack of diverse casting in her 2014 film ‘Mary Kom’.

In response to a question, Priyanka completely agreed and commented that someone from the northeast should have played Mary Kom: “I look nothing like her,” she had said.

This acknowledgement was received as a welcome gesture from Priyanka which was then openly appreciated by Lin who had the same point of view on it.

We got an opportunity to speak with Lin on it where she said: “It’s really gracious and brave of Priyanka to finally accept this and put it out there. My admiration for her has only grown immensely. Inclusivity I feel is very hard to understand unless you are excluded.”

With OTT gaining prominence, it seems that merit and authenticity are slowly getting the due importance that they deserve. I’m very thankful for this welcome change and looking forward to good work coming our way.”

Lin is an international model and actress who hails from Manipur.

‘Mary Kom’ that was helmed by Omung Kumar, is based on the life of the eponymous boxer from Manipur who won several honours for the country.

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‘Chidiya Udd’ was a tightrope walk for Sikandar Kher





Actor Sikandar Kher, who is gearing up for his next venture ‘Chidiya Udd’ has called the show a tightrope walk as the show not just caters to a mass audience but at the same time aims to clicks with the international audience.

The actor will be seen sharing the screen with Jackie Shroff, with whom he has earlier worked in 2019’s ‘Romeo Akbar Walter’.

Talking about the show, the actor says, “Extremely excited for ‘Chidiya Udd’ as it has an international feel and certainly looks like a show that will go far and wide and be worthy of a world audience. It was a very tricky tightrope to walk for all of us because with this show, we are trying to capitalize on a certain mass audience that the country has and also reach out to the global viewer.”

“So there were certain dos and don’ts that came with the territory and we had to be careful with the tonality. I think we’ve hit the right blend of both sides. I am grateful to Harman and Vicky (the producers) for providing me with this wonderful opportunity.”

The show, which also stars ‘Slumdog Millionaire’ actor Madhur Mittal, is produced by Harman Baweja and Vicky Bahri. Helmed by director Ravi Jadhav (‘Banjo’, ‘Chhatrapati Shivaji’ and the ‘Timepass’ duology), ‘Chidiya Udd’ will soon be available for streaming on MX Player.

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