Tinkauri Sahu (right) at the release of the documentary in Ranchi on Sunday. Picture by Hardeep Singh
Sushil Ankan has an unusual way of paying tribute to luminaries in art, literature and culture, who have been forgotten by the society. He does it with the reel.
The director of Ranchi University’s journalism department embarked on a project in 2009 to make a series of video documentaries on such personalities. Titled Apne Sahar Ke Aadmi, the series has so far featured four persons.
The latest, Ek Kitab Natak Ki…, is on the life and work of Tinkauri Sahu, an octogenarian Nagpuri writer and actor, who is largely unknown to the present generation. The documentary was shown to a select audience at a Ranchi hotel on January 6.
Sahu was himself present during the screening and even indulged in a light tête-à-tête with the audience. Those present listened in rapt attention as the actor spoke about how his career before the camera shaped up. “After graduating in 1950, I started teaching at a school. The headmaster once asked me to perform at a function and that’s how, the acting bug bit me,” he said.
Sahu went on to add that since then, he acted in various plays that were staged in and around Ranchi. He also acted in radio plays after the Ranchi station of AIR started functioning in mid-1950s. “I used to be paid Rs 10 per play,” he shared with a smile.
The documentary had interviews of various persons who know Sahu personally and saw him acting or even started acting themselves after being inspired by him.
However, the present generation knows little about Sahu and has never seen him acting or read his writings in Nagpuri. The same is true for others of his time, who were active in some field or the other. That is why Ankan wants to “preserve them for future generations”.
Ankan made his first documentary, Kankila ke Sur, in 2009 that had as its subject sitarist Prabhat Thakur, who is no more. In 2010, he made two, Yadi Main Sahjada Hota on writer Shraban Kumar Goswami and Honsla Abhi Buland Hain on Baldeo Thakur, another theatre personality.
“I spend on my own, so it takes time,” Ankan said, explaining the long gap since he made the last documentary in 2010. However, his interest is yet to wane. In fact, he is already planning to take up another project.
His only regret is that he could not document the lives of those like tribal ideologue Ram Dayal Munda, who are no more. “I have a long list of such personalities and they all are aged. Hope I get the chance (to document their lives),” he concluded.