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Posted at: Nov 5, 2017, 1:24 AM; last updated: Nov 5, 2017, 1:24 AM (IST)

In love with the unsaid


Kolkata: Gulbahar Singh loves short stories. The Kolkata-based filmmaker with many award-winning movies to his credit finds novels rambling and problematic — because a writer is never happy with the end result on the screen.

“A good short story provides an insight into human emotions and offers a scope for expansion for making a movie,” says Gulbahar, six-time national award winning filmmaker. Most of Gulbahar’s feature films — in Bengali or Hindi — are based on Bengali short stories. He has also made a Bengali movie from a story originally written in a local language by a Rajasthani writer. The movie, Abaidha (illegitimate), gives an insight into a person’s mind in a situation where his wife has an affair with another man (Rajit Kapoor). The protagonist feels he is a squatter. The husband encourages the wife (Debashree Roy) to leave him and succeeds.

The film fetched the hero, Chiranjeet, Best Actor award from the Bengal Film Journalists Association (BFJA). This turned out to be the only award Chiranjeet ever received in his entire career.

The director, who made his first film Weeds (a short film on Kolkata’s street children) in 1980, has no formal training in filmmaking. He learnt by watching various directors at work, including greats like Ray and Ghatak.

“Movie making for me is all about execution. That part I learnt during my visits to the studios at Kolkata’s Tollygunge where people were kind,” says Gulbahar.

He was born in Pakur in Jharkhand and moved to Kolkata after his school. His family is in the business of supplying ballast to the railways. Gulbahar’s impressive repertoire also includes documentaries on Punjabi writers Kartar Singh Duggal and Dalip Kaur Tiwana.

The filmmaker’s recent work is Ek Thi Rani. Based on the life of late Gwalior ‘Rajmata’ Vijaya Raje Scindia, the film cast included Hema Malini and Vinod Khanna. The film turned out to be Khanna’s last celluloid appearance. 

— Shubhadeep Choudhury

An officer & writer

Guwahati: The turbaned assistant inspector general (AIG) of Assam Police, Dr Nanda Singh Borkala, is known more for his literary exploits in a state where policing has always been tough.

His name speaks for the place he comes from: Borkala in Nagaon district of Assam. Borkala is replete with over two-century-old history of about 50,000-strong Assamese Sikhs who, though ardent followers of Sikh religion, have now assimilated into Assamese culture. 

The senior Sikh officer, who holds a Ph.D from Gauhati University and cleared the coveted Assam Police Service, has been contributing to enrich Assamese literature. “It is an obsession for me to carry on with my literary work notwithstanding my busy schedule,” says Dr Singh.

It is no mean an achievement for a 49-year-old to have penned a dozen popular books of poems, three well-acclaimed short story collections, besides editing 10 books. He regularly writes for Assamese newspapers and periodical. He has jointly edited a book that depicts the entire journey of Sikh community in Assam — Asomiya Sikh: Bedonar Dostabez (The story of pain and sacrifices of Assamese Sikh). The book has been published by Asom Sahitya Sabha, the apex literary body in the state.

Dr Singh’s ancestors came to Assam in various periods of history beginning with the visit of Guru Nanak Dev in early 16th century. The most known inflow of Sikhs from Punjab took place during the Burmese invasion of Assam (Ahom Kingdom) during 1820-22 when Maharaja Ranjit Singh sent 500 armed fighters to help Ahom King Chandra Kanta Singh.

“The Assam government has granted 22 development councils for the welfare of various communities in the state, but none for Assamese Sikhs. Agriculture is the main source of livelihood for our community which is in urgent need of some elixir from the government for its uplift,” says the police officer. 

— Bijay Sankar Bora


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