Thursday, 28 November 2013

Marilyn Monroe and Chanel No.5

During my M.Tech in Biotechnology in Jadavpur in 2001, one of my professors from Chemical Engineering Department Dr. Pinaki Bhattacharyya used to teach us diffusion. He used to take example of Chanel No.5 while explaining how fragrance molecules diffuse from one place to another. With a naughty smile he mentioned Marilyn Monroe loved to wear Chanel No.5. Then he digressed to nitty gritty of chemical engineering. But why did a smile hang on ?

I decode his furtive smile today. Today after long I retrieve the video which shows why Marilyn was famously linked to Chanel No.5 ! I could after all decode the hint in his smile. Watch it. Marilyn famously answered " Only a few drops of Chanel No.5 " when asked what did she usually wear to bed at night ! Much is left to your imagination.

Another ad on this theme was by Brook Shields for Clavin Klein jeans. " You know what's there between me and my Calvin Klein Jeans ? ....Nothing" said Brook Shields whose Blue Lagoon made many young men come of age in early 1980's.

Friday, 8 November 2013

How Bibhutibhushan published Pather Panchali

I share this anecdote from Sagarmoy Ghosh’s book ‘Rachona Sangraha’

Bibhutibhushan after his graduation worked for the rich Bengali zamindar Khelat Ghosh in Bhagalpur, Bihar. He was a manager at their timber industry. Trees of the forest in Bhagalpur were felled, cut and supplied to the timber merchants. Bibhutibhushan was working in that forest and this was the place which shaped Aranyak. This was also the place where Pather Panchali was written. Bibhuti babu being a sensitive soul longed for the literary adda of Calcutta and Upendranath Gangopadhyay was a lawyer in Bhagalpur at whose residence a weekly literary meet would take place. Upen babu noticed a tall man wearing a dhoti and kurta with a lathi and lantern at hand comes, sits quietly, listens intently and leaves quietly. One evening it was Kalboisakhi jhor. Nobody arrived at the meet. Upen babu found only Bibhuti bhushan is present. Quizzically he asked “ What do you do ? Why do you carry a lantern ? Why do you come ?” Bibhuti babu said he works at Khelat Ghosh’s zamindari, carries a lantern because he has to walk through the forest when he goes back at night and that he comes to enjoy the literary flavour. Upen babu asked “Have you written anything ?” “Yes,” said Bibhutibhushan, “ I have written a novel”. Upen babu was about to fall from his chair “ What !! You have written a novel?? People start with short poetries, and then they graduate to short stories. How come you have written a whole novel?? OK…give it to me next week. I shall read”. This was the conversation. After that Bibhuti babu left when the storm subsided. Next week Bibhuti babu came back with the novel he called Pather Panchali and very shyly handed it over. By the time Upen babu finished reading it he realized he has spotted a gem. The moment Bibhutibhashan came for next meeting Upen babu exclaimed “ Apni ke he moshai ? Ei lekha to jogot joi korbe !”. Looking at a shy Bibhuti babu Upen babu said “ But a word of advice… have to learn the metrics of writing….some chapters are too long, some are short….please count the words and distribute the chapters evenly….then you give it to me …I shall arrange for its publication”. Bibhuti bhushan was amazed. He went back and made the changes. When he handed over the final manuscript Upen babu said “ Bibhuti babu, as a father takes a son’s responsibility, I take your manuscript with same responsibility. I am going back to Calcutta. My son-in-law is funding me to start a weekly literary magazine. I promise your novel will be published in my magazine in episodes and mark my word, you are the next star of Bengali literature”.

Then Upen babu made Calcutta his base and started the magazine “ Bichitra”. In no time Bichitra became talk of the town. Bibhuti babu got the news of the phenomenal success of Upen babu’s effort but found that his novel Pather Panchali is still unpublished. By now almost a year has passed and Bibhutibhushan took up a school teaching job and came back to Calcutta. One day after school he visited Bichitra’s office. Upen babu was not there but a few suited booted Bengali gentlemen present there dismissed a dhoti kurta clad Bibhutibabu wearing a torn brown soiled cambis shoe as if he was a piece of dirt.. They were animatedly discussing sexuality in D H Lawrence’s literature. Waiting for Upen babu , a shy Bibhuti babu stood outside the door. Suddenly from a room inside came out Upen babu. Looking at Bibhuti babu coyly waiting outside he ran and embraced Bibhuti babu and exclaimed “Lo and behold the next star of Bengali literature. Bibhuti, you are going to revolutionize the literary field”. The gentlemen sitting on sofa were incredulous. They could not believe what they heard from a man of stature like Upen babu. Their jaws opened in disbelief and the collective thought was “ This man ! this lowly man with such dirty clothes and shoes is going to be the next star !! No, impossible .” How wrong they were. Pather Panchali started as episodic novel published in Bichitra. Bengal has never witnessed such plain emotions, such simplicity coming out from a village boy living a mundane life. It was so fresh. Upen babu got flooded with congratulatory letters. Bibhuti bhushan later on told that being a village boy he never liked the noise of Calcutta but that afternoon when Upen babu heralded him to the pantheon of Bengali literature he was ecstatic and humbled.

Rest as they say is history.

NB : A letter shortly after the publication of Pather Panchali came to Bichitra office. Bard of Bengal from Jorasanko, Calcutta wanted to know from Upenbabu who this new writer is !!