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Local talent in BH Block puja

This year, Nilanjan Ganguly, a resident of BH 160, had more reasons to hang around on Puja nights at the para pandal. He had planned and executed the structure himself.

The pandal was an alley of Calcutta, complete with graffiti, posters of 1970’s films and a club room with a carrom board. “It was exciting to overhear the comments by the visitors. People from north Calcutta were thrilled to find a street from their part of town replicated in far-away Salt Lake. As for the local residents, many simply walked by before they realised that the two-storeyed buildings were actually part of the pandal,” laughs Nilanjan. Some also sought him out to congratulate him.

This gave him the impetus to stay put in the pandal till late at night. “We had sizeable crowds till about 12.30am and visitors kept coming till 2.30am or so. People in our block are very happy.”

The exuberation at the puja’s success, he says, found an outlet in the immersion procession on Dashami. “I am living in this block since 1995. I have never seen such dancing on the streets,” he laughs. The idol was taken round the block from 7pm till 11pm. “Ours is a small block, so you can imagine how many turns we took. Folks had to be forced to let the idol leave for immersion.”

This was Nilanjan’s first Durga puja pandal. “I have made Kali puja pandals before in our block. Last year’s pandal, themed on a tribal Kali puja, was a success.” That gave both him and the block elders the confidence to go big with Durga puja.

Born in the Seventies, Nilanjan has a fascination for the decade. “It was such a creative period in films and music. I was introduced to that period by the films of Mrinal Sen and Satyajit Ray. That is why I wanted to recreate it.”

The pandal has made a name for Nilanjan in the township. “I am being approached by other blocks to do their pandals next year.”

An expert in visual merchandising, he was so long employed with a range of retail chains like Titan, Spencer’s and Pantaloons. “I was involved with the planning of Spencer’s, South City, and Pantaloons, Kankurgachhi.”

He always had wanted to create a Durga puja pandal but his job kept him from finding the time. Now having quit and set up his own agency, he is at liberty to pursue his interests.

This year’s success has prompted the block to plan ahead for next year’s puja. “This time we had barely a month and a half to plan and build the pandal. A meeting has been called in December to start work for next year.”

One flip side was his lack of time for family through the Puja days. “My wife is upset that I did not take her to see big pujas in Calcutta. All I had time for was a few pujas in Salt Lake.” With him planning to take on multiple puja assignments next year, does he foresee trouble at home? “She will understand,” the 37-year-old says philosophically.