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"I have known music to be her timeless reverberation in a forlorn corner of my soul; just when life was closing down upon me with its pangs of haunting silence."
"Hope is the point the 'world within' comes to an equilibrium with the 'world around'."
"The cold that my body feels can be comforted by pullovers of our choices. It is the winter that comes back each year, inevitably; is how we are connected on the face of time. A sweet suffering of forever..."
"My poverty, I know, was glamorous because trading you, my love, for a better life is outright heinous."
"Love was the day when she drank and I felt quenched."
"Life, ever since, had been one gripping tale. Your happening gave it a genre."
"Want is the soul's desire. Need, the mind's crave. Love, thus, I believe, is a bit of both."
"Art is how you lie to the world without ever feeling sinned."
"Sorrow is true and beyond the powers of healing, when you can taste the oceans on your lips."

Film Review | GUMNAAMI: Whose name India doesn’t want you to know

If Netaji’s disappearance were an uncertain cricket pitch, Gumnaami plays out as a skilled batter standing on middle stump guard. It deals the yorker of ‘plane crash in Taiwan’ with a feisty defence; elegantly holds up the willow to ‘Bose was in Russia’ outswinger; and scores off the ‘Gumnaami Baba’ narrative in a fine display of skill, composure and quest to chart a memorable, history-defying knock that Srijit Mukherji’s latest directorial has turned out to be.
For a subject whose deduced fate can bring down castles of history erected over 7 decades of possible connivance, lead nations to anarchy overnight, tumble present world leaders from their exalted pedestals of nobility and tarnish the honour of glistening memorials in the Capital city with obsequious guards obediently changing flowers 3 times a day and respectful citizens paying their regards beneath the eternal flame — it was imperative to dissect Netaji Subhas Chandra Bose’s alleged death with the knife of neutrality, and for that matter, Gumnaami fares well in most parts.
Based on the book CONUNDRUM authored by Anuj Dhar and Chandrachur Ghose, the film opens to a monochromatic frame — a classic cinematic tribute to the bygone era — as a sure-footed Netaji (played by Prosenjit Chatterjee) is shown ascending a flight of stairs to join pensive-looking Gandhi and Nehru, who sat upright on thick mattresses across the floor, discussing the possibilities of Indian sepoys fighting for Imperial causes. To this, Netaji expresses firm dissent and in a quick exchange of crisply written dialogues, Srijit establishes Netaji’s official departure from the Congress party. An intricately designed credit roll then maps Netaji’s famous escape from British house arrest in Calcutta, serenaded by Sonu Nigam’s mellifluous rendition of ‘Subhas Ji’ in the background, one of the film’s most pivotal tracks. The narrative then cuts to the present as the celluloid return to colours with Chandrachur Dhar (played by Anirban Bhattacharya) sulking over team India’s drubbing in the 2003 WC final under the tutelage of Sourav Ganguly. In a rather brief scene that seems like comic relief, Srijit masterfully highlights Bengal’s obsessive deference towards its heroes — Sourav Ganguly or Subhas Chandra Bose — through all their triumphs and tragedies.

Chandrachur is a diligent journalist working for a reputed daily and has been tasked with the humongous job of preparing the most comprehensive story in the history of Indian media on the development of Mukherjee Commission’s enquiry to address the mysterious disappearance of India’s one of the iconic freedom fighter, Subhas Chandra Bose. And with this begins Chandrachur’s camaraderie with the legend of Bose. He submerges himself in extensive research, reading anything and everything available under the sun about this great man. He fetches the rarest of books from national archives and continues to dive deeper into the winding maze of Netaji’s purported death. Picturised as a recluse, Chandrachur renounces life to wind up in his study amidst towering stacks of books with coils of cigarette smoke forever lingering in his curious eyes.
However, his piquing interest and the conviction to resolve several decades of national mystery is admonished by his wife, Ronita (played by Tansuree Chakraborty). One night as Chandrachur lay wondering in bed, his restless eyes peering through the murky bedroom light in search of elusive answers, Ronita quietly snuggles up to him. Chandrachur fails at a warm reciprocation, instead blurting out names from history in delirium, that sees a dejected Ronita stride out of the bedroom — and with it, the first of many cracks in Chandrachur’s marital life starts to surface. In yet another emotionally stirring scene, the character’s noble pursuit is deftly established with Chandrachur visualizing himself in round-framed-Netaji-glasses at a New Market kiosk selling fancy goggles. Those unwavering eyes in the tiny mirror as he held his own gaze had a determined voice, perhaps louder than the rapturous din of Dharmatala, making it clear that no matter the sacrifices, the losses, the roadblocks, he cannot be held from travelling against time to that fateful day in Taiwan airport, past the lapping flames of the burning aircraft, that has for over 70 years kept a secret to prevent history from being mutilated. It was, in fact, the character’s paranoia as he further spirals into search, seclusion and addiction that felt rather banal. His hallucinations, conversing with Netaji’s spectre at the porch, as the official declassification is awaited anxiously, was a cliché that could well have been avoided. Chandrachur gave up his job and blithely walked out of a happy marriage to pursue the great man’s truth — the character’s commitment to the cause needed no further validation.
On the other hand, the film continues to examine Netaji’s clandestine military struggle to launch a powerful armed rebellion against the British in varying theories leading to his alleged death with Chandrachur putting forth his research before the esteemed tribunal constituted to unravel this epic mystery. For a film that carries on its shoulders the onerous weight of time, the widespread reputation of a world hero and the prevailing uncertainty of the very premise it’s based on — it needed astute direction to not go wayward. And Srijit Mukherjee with an incisive screenplay and aesthetically accurate cinematography answers the veritable question of ‘What happened to Netaji?’ with even more articulate questions that border on possible answers.
Sometimes when the home is too far and the sky too murky, all it takes is a glint of light at the horizon to guide the voyagers to their destination. Gumnaami is that speck of light in a mist-laden world that Netaji Subhas Chandra Bose’s life is. And everyone who wades into the tides seeking truth, everyone with the slightest regard for Netaji, everyone who can endure the upheaval of history falling on its face, simply cannot miss the hope this light peddles along. As Netaji in his khaki uniform walks past the INA basecamp through a corridor of salutations and lifts his head at the Azad Hind Fauj flag fluttering against a plaintive sky — the auditorium stumbles to its feet in the crooning darkness, standing ramrod straight till the last word of the credit roll had drifted up and exit gates slammed open. There, in the sacred silence of realization, and not in the questions raised in the film, Gumnaami succeeds in its pursuit.
74 years have gone by since the news of Netaji’s alleged death in an air crash in Tokyo hit the headlines, driving the world into perpetual disbelief. 3 extensive probes have been launched so far with the intention of purging all mysteries concerning his death, with the last commission eventually acceding that Netaji did not die of an air crash. Now, if for once the findings of the Mukherjee Commission are believed to be true — of Bose feigning his own death to escape into Russia; his renouncement of nationalist duties as India, driven by Gandhian principles, sought freedom at the irredeemable cost of partition; and his eventual return, as testified by eye-witnesses and drafted in the archives of official probes, as an ascetic in Faizabad (UP) under the sobriquet of Gumnaami Baba — all the mist surrounding Netaji’s alleged disappearance starts to dissipate. Like the missing pieces of a jigsaw coming together. Like the final showdown of long-lasting battle. Like receiving the confirmation letter of one’s dream job. Like a lover’s long-awaited phone call coming through. Like the son finally coming home to a mother’s empty arms.
Filed evidence uphold the Commission’s inferences. Eye witness accounts testify the mystic hermit’s uncanny resemblance to Bose as no coincidence. Scrutiny of documents recovered from Gumnaami Baba’s belongings post his demise reveals his involvement in the syndicate of Indian politics. Lastly, there’s the truth itself, like a Phoenix in ashes, with Netaji’s mortal remains at Tokyo’s Renkō-ji temple awaiting to be tested in a First World country laboratory to disperse for good the fog of misrepresentations with the scorching light of truth. But do we have a Government that is ready to declassify the Commission’s probe, given the fact that it could alter the very facet of India’s valorous history of assailing Colonial imperialism? Are we even ready to withstand the consequences of what could result in we questioning ourselves on the deserving candidate to be bestowed with the epithet of ‘Father of the Nation’? Are we remotely prepared for the second term of demonetisation — not so much to reclaim black money this time around, but to reprint our currencies with a new bespectacled face? Are we not responsible to reinstate the voice of a liberator, albeit posthumously, whose efforts in constituting the INA at once weakened the subservient Indian Army’s loyalty towards the Empire obligating Lord Clement Attlee to withdraw colonial fangs from India’s enraged heart? Are we, as Indians, ready to relearn our rich history with new heroes at the helm of things?
It’s in the answers to these questions that Netaji’s fate lies, as much as it is at the behest of our Government’s approval of the extensive research findings to lend our national hero a just and dignified closure.

But by now, our hearts know most of the answers — and the day a billion hearts beat with the same belief, it wouldn’t matter if Netaji’s mysterious disappearance is officially unravelled. Perhaps Subhas Chandra Bose, in juxtaposition to what Lt. James Gordon said in The Dark Knight, is the hero we need but do not deserve.

Schizophrenic Sky

Schizophrenic Sky
~ Sobhan Pramanik | Sunday, July 08, 2018 |
spears of sunshine come
stabbing through wayward
branches. and the wind is cold
in my face, almost erratic.
it shakes massive
jackfruits to the ground. my
walkway is pulp-splashed,
and this lazy drizzle does little
to wash it clean. sprinkling
soundlessly like fine sand -
dusk-colored and oozing
out of this schizophrenic sky;
touching everything, drenching nothing.
my garden is a messy emulsion.
enough earth but too little rain.
enough water but no real mud.
i am not looking forward to a rainbow,
for it will be dark before it breaks.
an electrocuted crow falls to the
pavement; feathers ruffled and claws
turned inwards in death. it’s one
distorted rainy evening, i wonder.
all i am hopeful is about the petrichor.
but the drizzle hangs on grass blades
like evanescent mist, too light on the
gleaming green spine to go down to
earth and break the fragrance free.
is this even real? i frown.
i remember your naked body against mine.
damp. just out of shower.
the sensuous odour of your floral bodywash
permeate through sheets
to become my breath.
i had felt ‘us’ on my fingertips
treading down the knobs
of your slender back; on my lips
in salty memories of mouthful kisses.
just so you know,
i sleep alone in that bed now.
becoming increasingly privy to rains
that fall without filling.

The Wait & The Welcome

The Wait & The Welcome
~ Sobhan Pramanik | Sunday, July 08, 2018 |
last summer
we sowed lemon seeds
in a plastic pot kept on the balcony rails.
it had been empty for a while,
and pigeons idled
on its edges, pecking
at the sun-hardened soil.
twigs of grass broke out
of the soil and perished
on its own. mostly torn away
by pigeons and squirrels to
cushion their modest nests.
for months after, with dots of green
hovering low over moist soil, we kept
it covered with a wicker basket
lest it became nests in no time.
and shooed all birds and squirrels
from the resting shades of our balcony
through four quarters of a day.
it's close to a year now, and the
plant has grown to a couple feet.
it has climbed past the balcony rails,
as a soft green wing hangs out
from our fourth-floor apartment.
its leaves big with prominent veins,
and stems, mud-laced, tad too thick
for pigeons to be beaked home,
to be chewed by squirrels.
now a steady rain continues to fall outside
and i watch the tendril bounce in the torrent.
the leaves washed, look like the delicate green
of its birthing days. a lone pigeon leaps up
from the ledge. its feathers damp, and perches on the pot
to drink from the puddle at the plant’s root.
the squirrel too is back, and is waiting at the rails.
it lifts its dark-buttoned eyes to my
unhurried face and waits. i wait too.
almost holding my breath.
then it slowly scurries over to the pot
and drinks the rain.

If rains are lies...

If rains are lies...
~ Sobhan Pramanik | Sunday, July 08, 2018 |
my weather is
not in the radiance
of the sky, but in the
colors of my being.
what's daybreak
but my fond recollection
of your laughter, a silver
brook my poems sailed
to become songs;
the mellow nights
- our secret hideout,
where in the shadows
your ravishing spirit
milks my longings into
the tired blue of a crestfallen
sea. and the great rains, the
devouring downpour
is when the old postman
slips your letters under
the doormat when i'm not home.
you write to me asking
if the summer is
bearable at home?
and i look out into
the obscure light of rains,
and tell you that not a single
cloud has stopped overhead
since we hung our boots.

- Sobhan

Living Again

Living Again
~ Sobhan Pramanik | Sunday, July 08, 2018 |
this city is stopped
and started by windows,
stopped when shut
against the dust
and destitution of lives
sweating at the hearts
for the night to settle upon dew.
and started when pushed open
at dawn to drop breadcrumbs
for pigeons, and water the pallid hibiscus.
i’ve been your beckoning
both as the evening din and
morning's gentleness.
but it’s been a while
you’ve been out of bed.
drifting between shots,
syringes and men every new
hour. that's not the way, trust me.
you can choose not to fuck
and hold my hand. and we
can open doors to a new place
where there’ll be no gravity,
and you’ll feel no weight of
your scars. we’ll float. near
and far. in thoughts.
of forgetting
and loving anew.
there's always a way.
but this is not it.
not all pleasures can
be touched through
writhing naked bodies.
open your eyes. there's
a morning in the way i’ve
been wanting you for long.
and now it’s here at the
end of all your drunk nights.
for you.
to live all over again.

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