Ruskin Bond at a city hotel. Picture by Aranya Sen
Ruskin Bond started writing when he was 17 years old and at 75, he’s still going strong. Over 300 short stories, five novellas, 30 children’s books, numerous essays, an autobiography in two volumes, travel writings, and poetry later, the prolific writer has penned his first story for a film.
“I have written a story for Vishal Bhardwaj, which he will start shooting in February,” Bond told Metro during a chat with steaming mugs of tea and nankhatai to munch.
Two of his stories have been made into films — Shyam Benegal adapted The Flight of Pigeons into Junoon in the ’80s and recently Bhardwaj made The Blue Umbrella into a movie. Bond’s latest is called Seven Husbands, “which has scope for seven actors, one heroine”.
Did he have any leading lady in mind? “Priyanka Chopra has been signed up to play the lead, she works her way through seven husbands,” smiled Bond. It’s Bluebeard in reverse, he added, referring to the nobleman from French lore who kills all his wives till the last one gets him.
So, what other stories can we look forward to from his desk? (He still writes with pen and pad, though he says he has nothing against computers.) “For children I’m writing a funny story about my eccentric Uncle Ken. I’m also writing some serious stories.... I have just finished a story about a man in his thirties, a good looking, popular man, who suddenly discovers he’s got leprosy. The story is set 50 years back, and deals with his forced isolation.
Another story that will soon be published is about Bond as a boy, when he was infatuated with a very attractive girl twice his age… “It’s a kind of puppy love story,” he says.
“I like writing ghost stories, too… when I run out of people, I conjure up a ghost and write about it!” says the man who claims he’s never met a ghost, except possibly Rudyard Kipling’s in London’s Victoria and Albert Museum.
Rabi Ghosh festival
A three-day film festival on Rabi Ghosh will be held at Nandan II from November 25, the actor’s 78th birth anniversary. Organised by Satabdi Ballad Troupe, in association with Nandan, the festival is titled Je Rabir Asto Nei.
“Rabi Ghosh was such a great actor and his films are still a big draw among the young and old. You may see his films like Galpo Holeo Satti a thousand times and it will make you laugh every time. There will also be an exhibition of shooting stills of Ghosh and photographs with his family,” said Debasish Basu of the Satabdi Ballad Troupe.
Five films and a documentary on Utpal Dutt, which features Ghosh in a particular scene, will be shown at the festival, starting with Tapan Sinha’s Galpo Holeo Satti. Film-maker Sandip Ray and actor Paran Bandopadhyay will speak on the second day before the screening of Goopy Bagha Phire Elo and Goutam Ghose’s Padma Nadir Majhi. The festival will end with Dhanni Meye and Goopy Gyne Bagha Byne (picture right).
Passes will be available at Nandan from November 24. Two films will be screened each day, 3pm and 6pm.
Packets for free too?
Not everyone frequents the government-owned Samavayika chain of stores. Some are put off by their shabby interiors, some by the empty shelves. But there are sympathisers who swear by Samavayika’s low prices.
One such Samavayika sympathiser dragged her friend to a central Calcutta store recently. The neophyte was impressed at first — she managed to get a tin of baked beans, a tin of sweet corn, packets of biscuits and even a shampoo of her choice for very cheap. She paid up and came up against the catch. The store does not provide any carry bag or packet. So the new customer dropped the two tins in the crooks of her arms and arranged the shampoo and the biscuits over them and wondered aloud why there was no packet.
The man at the door looked very offended at first. When asked again, he said: “First you get things so cheap, then you even ask for a packet?”