Bengali culture is known for its richness in the field of literature and we have given notable novelists to the world including Nobel Laureate Rabindranath Tagore.
The most prestigious Bengali Utsob (festival) in India, the Apeejay Bangla Sahitya Utsob celebrates the best of Bengali literature through a series of talks, discussions, and mesmerizing music. A celebration that is an educational experience in itself, the ABSU ‘promises to be grandiose, varied and a fitting tribute to the language of the city’.
The Apeejay Bangla Sahitya Utsob, 2018 was held at the Jorasanko Thakur Bari- the ancestral home of the Tagore family. The festival started on the 16th of November and was concluded on the 18th of November. The ABSU is presented in association with Patra Bharti and supported by Rabindra Bharati University.
ABSU 2018 speakers include authors and writers Shirshendu Mukhopadhyay, Sanjib Chattopadhyay, Shankha Ghosh, Samaresh Majumdar, Mazharul Islam, Soikat Mukhopadhyay, Anish Deb, Subodh Sarkar, Sirsho Bandhopadhyay, Debatosh Das, Himadrikishore Dasgupta, Pracheto Gupta and Srijato Bandopadhyay ; Historians, professors and researchers Debasis Mukhopadhyay, Somen Sengupta, Abhijit Gupta, Chinmoy Guha, Srabani Gupta, Sougata Chakraborty, Syed Tanveer Nasreen, Alokprasad Chattopadhyay; Entrepreneur Satyam RoyChowdhury; Media personalities Abhik Sarkar, Bitanu Chatterjee, Santanu Chakraborty, Avik Mukherjee, Chumki Chattopadhyay and publisher Esha Chatterjee; celebrated theatre personalities Arindam Ganguly and Kheyali Dastidar; popular musicians Usha Uthup, Anupam Roy, Anindya Chattopadhyay, Upal Sengupta and Parama Dasgupta; and prominent Film Directors Arindam Sil, Sudeshna Roy, and Kaushik Ganguly.
“Apeejay Bangla Sahitya Utsob is in its 4th year and continues to support, promote & strengthen Bangla Language. This year our ever increasing audience will feel special, as the Utsob will be held at the birth place of Nobel Laureate Gurudev Rabindranath Tagore- Jorasanko Thakubari…….ABSU 2018 will be our best offering so far, with 20 specially curated sessions which range from heritage, partition, limericks, sports, music, cinema and audio of Bangla language in this pristine heritage venue invaluable to Bangla literary legacy and we hope people will (re)visit, appreciate and enjoy this Utsob we have put together……With consistent support from Patra Bharati, a valued association which is now in its 4th year, to accomplish this objective of expanding the reach of Bangla Literature through this pioneering initiative is truly inspiring”—Swagat Sengupta, CEO Oxford Bookstores & ABSU Director
Here are the highlights:
Day 1 (November 16th):
The fourth edition of this festival was inaugurated by Shankha Ghosh (Bengali Poet and Critic), Samaresh Majumdar (Sahitya Academy Award-winning author) and Mazharul Islam (Bangladeshi Architect, educator, and activist). The opening ceremony was held in the courtyard of Jorasanko and was graced by Prof Sabyasachi Basu Ray Chaudhury, Vice Chancellor, Rabindra Bharati University; Tridib Kumar Chattopadhyay, MD Patra Bharati Group of Publications and Swagat Sengupta, Director Apeejay Bangla Sahitya Utsob and CEO Oxford Bookstores.
The keynote address was delivered by Mazharul Islam and mainly focused on the future of Bengali Literature. An enthralling light and sound show also accompanied the unveiling of the book cover of ‘Tero Nadir Pare’ by Sirsho Bandhopadhyay and a discussion on Terrorism in Bangla Literature titled ‘Sahitye Santrash’ between Sirsho Bandhopadhyay, Bitanu Chatterjee, Debotosh Das, Tridib Kumar Chattopadhyay, and Himabanta Bandhopadhyay.
Day 2 (November 17th):
The day starts with Instrumental Music with Prof. Biswajit Bhattacharya on Tabla Lahara, Hiranmay Mitra on Harmonium, Pandit Debasish Bhattacharya on Sarod, and Pandit Parimal Chakraborty on the Tabla, from Rabindra Bharati University.
The other events from the day are as follows:
- Hashyo Rosher Jibon Kahini (Life story of Humour) in association with Purono Kolkatar Golpo
- Sahitya ki Khelar Jinish? (Sports in Literature)
- Puratoni Bangla Gaan O Tappa (Yesteryears Bangla Music) presented in association with Rabindra Bharati University
- Kothae Shure Maatir Gaane (Words, Tunes, and Folk Music)
There are numerous discussions throughout the day which are both entertaining and intriguing. A few topics include Counter, Na Computer, Pathok Kothae Jaye Bar Bar? (Counter or Computer – Where will the reader go?), Porimori Kano Pori? (What we get from books by reading them), Where does Robithakur belong?); and Hare Hare Bujhilam, Sahitya Niye Boshilam! (Cinema cannot survive without literature). These discussions are meant to be engaging along with an encouragement of sorts to young minds who are interested in Bengali Literature.
Day 3 (November 18th):
The final day of the Utsob brings the much-awaited and much-loved Bangla Sahitya Quiz conducted by Quiz Master Saurav Ranjan Datta. The winners of the online micro-stories and micro poems competition Kotha Kom, Kaaj Beshi (Less Talk, More Work) and Pick Chaar Kotha are declared on the same day.
The action-packed day also hosts an innovative on-the-spot creative writing Tokkhuni Takkhunik (Then and there) in association with Kobita Club, Shimante Chariye: Cinema O Sahitya (Beyond Borders: Cinema and Literature); Bangla Bhasar Sarani: Alo na Andhokaar! (The path of Bengali Language: Alighted or in Darkness!) discussions.
The highlight of the Day: ABSU also introduced a unique discussion on how translation unites Literature beyond languages Duniyar Sahitya Ak Hou (How translation in literature is connecting the world literature together). Sotyer Modheo Sahitya (Reality is always hidden somewhere in literature) which focusses on how literature resides in everyday realities of life; London Kinba Mirike/ Golpo Ache Gaaner Lyric e (A story is hidden in the lyrics of the song), a discussion on Literature hidden in lyrics of songs; Porbo Na sunbo? Jor kise Gunbo? (Listening or reading books – which one do you prefer?)
A huge Thank you to Apeejay Bangla Sahitya Utsob and their team for giving me a chance to attend and write about this glorious festival that was so rich and was indeed an educational experience.
Photo Courtesy: @absulitfest
About Apeejay Bangla Sahitya Utsob (ABSU):
Apeejay Bangla Sahitya Utsob (ABSU), India’s first Bangla Literary Festival (ie Utsob in Bangla) created by the nearly 100 year old Oxford Bookstores in 2015, honours the rich literary tradition of the Bangla language. The objective of ABSU, a prized initiative of Oxford Bookstores, is to make Bangla literature increasingly visible and accessible, build an audience for Bangla books and create a culture of readership and familiarization with Bangla language among the youth. An interactive platform bringing together voices of contemporary Bangla Literature from the national and international stage, ABSU showcases all aspects of Bangla literature and literary expression and their impact on various art forms. ABSU is committed to the journey of Bangla Literature which is both exciting and exhilarating and have brought eminent personalities to grace the Festival in the last three years. They include renowned authors like Shirshendu Mukherjee, Nabaneeta Dev Sen, Samaresh Majumdar, Sankha Ghosh, Pracheta Gupta, Ranjan Bandhopadhyay, Sanjib Chattopadhaya, Saikat Mukhopadhyay, Anindo Chattopadhaya, Nrisingha Prasad Bhaduri, Srijato, Binod Ghoshal, Himadrikishor Dasgupta, Anish Deb, Krishnendu Mukherjee and Subodh Sarkar; film Directors like Suman Mukhopadhyay, Aniruddha Roy Chowdhury and Arindam Sil; Bengali musicians Nachiketa, Surojit Chatterjee and Swagatalaksmi Dasgupta; Actors Sabyasachi Chakraborty and Barun Chandra. Utsob has also attracted prominent literary personalities from Bangladesh like Salina Hussain and Imdadul Haq Milon.
Patra Bharati is associate partner for ABSU. ABSU 2018 is supported by Rabindra Bharati University, Keo Karpin, Future Publishers, 24 Ghanta and Amazon Westland; 94.3 Radio One is ABSU Radio Partner; Purono Kolkatar Golpo and Kobita Club are ABSU session partners; Koko Chino and Ekdalia Road Social are ABSU Food Partners; Cha Bar and Typhoo are ABSU Refreshment Partners; and Studio 15 is ABSU’s Visual Documentation Partner.
About Patra Bharati
Patra Bharati started its journey back in the year 1968, with the very reputed juvenile magazine, Kishore Bharati. In 1981 Patra Bharati entered the world of book publishing. It mainly concentrated on Children and Juvenile Literature. With the start of a millennium, Patra Bharati stepped up and started publishing of all Literature across all genres and age groups. The lines of restrictions were removed and a new age publication house that focused on varied forms of Literature was born. Patra Bharati has to its credit Novels, Essays, Compilations, Graphic Novels, Comics, Stories, Non Fiction, Prose and so on. Many titles have received Awards and Accolades and are best sellers in today’s time. Very recently Patra Bharati has also entered into English Publication, under the name BEE Books which has started gaining popularity with some of its titles.
About Oxford Bookstores:
Established in 1919, Oxford Bookstore is the best equipped ‘base-camp’ for journeys of the mind offering its customers the widest range of outstanding titles and consistently courteous and informed service for close to a century. Today, with stores in major metros, India’s first of its kind tea boutique, Cha Bar, India’s only literary festival created by a bookstore, Apeejay Kolkata Literary Festival, Oxford Bookstore offers booklovers access to the very best in publishing enhanced by a variety of events which salute books, visual & performing arts and celebrate the word. Oxford Bookstore measures its success by the smiles on millions of happy customers that the brand has served over the last nearly 100 years. There are a few treats as sumptuous as a visit to Oxford Bookstore in India. Each time you walk into our iconic store in Kolkata where the brand started in 1919, its charm leaves you wanting for more. Our fleet of happy to help expert booksellers and informed hosts work day and night to bring to customers world class reading experience be it through our books or our fine teas and live by the brand’s motto – Much more than a bookstore – at every Bookstore.