Playing it right
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- Published 10.09.05
Ranjon and Sangeeta Ghoshal are collaborators in a variety of activities. They run one of Bangalore’s most popular theatre groups, Forum-Three together and they are the creative and administrative brains behind advertising agency Mareech. If that’s not enough, they have jointly and at different times over the last 25 years, been interior decorators, translators (having translated several Bengali plays into English) and two of the people behind Mohiner Ghoraguli, the father of Bangla bands.
Besides, they are a dynamic husband and wife duo who are partners in every sense of the word. As part of the vibrant cultural scene in Bangalore, their house, a wacky creation called Yellow Submarine, hosts most Calcutta celebrities passing through Bangalore, from Sunil Gangopadhyay to Kabir Suman. Also, they are the proud parents of two young sons.
Fifty- year-old Ranjon is an engineer by education and a poet by choice. Sangeeta, his junior by two years (though he proudly insists that most people think she’s much younger than him) is an artist working in the abstract expressionistic medium. She has held several successful exhibitions in Calcutta, Bangalore and the US and is preparing for one in Bangalore next month. In theatre, their strength lies in productions of Bengali and other regional language plays in English. Their productions include Manoj Mitra’s plays like Banchharamer Bagan and Raj Darshan, Arun Mukerjee’s Mareech: The Legend and The True Story of a Half Man and Girish Karnad’s Hayavadana. They recently put up Badal Sircar’s The Other Side of History in Bangalore.
I met Sangeeta when I was 19 at a fine arts institution in Calcutta. The first day I went to this place, I spotted this Bengali beauty ? tall, fair and dignified ? and fell for her. I remember going home and telling my mother that she wouldn’t have to look for a bride for her youngest son. As I was not even 20 at that time, my mother was astounded and wanted to know why she would even think of finding me a wife! I assured her that if she thought about it at all, she could rest assured that it had been taken care of.
Soon, we were inseparable. This was in 1974. We were learning painting together and our common passion for theatre and the performing arts kept us very busy. This was also the time that the members of Mohiner Ghoraguli were getting together. By 1975, the band had taken off. Although the original album covers of the group mention the names of the seven guys who formed it, there was the unstinted support of two women behind it who did everything from designing the album covers to looking after the marketing aspect ? Sangeeta and Sharmishta, another member’s wife.
We got married in 1980 and soon after came to Bangalore to set up home here. Being an engineer, I had got a job with BHEL, but soon, I realised that this kind of job was not for me. That’s when we set up Mareech, our advertising agency. In this, too, Sangeeta was with me every step of the way. Giving up a secure job and striking out on your own is never an easy decision, but Sangeeta was just as keen to do it. Since she had been a fine arts and literature student, she was as much a part of the designing and creative aspect of our work as me.
When I look back at all the years we have known each other, I have a feeling of timelessness. I always feel there’s so much more we have to do together, but I never feel as if time’s running out. It seems to me as if there are lifetimes stretching out ahead in which we will, of course, be together. We are so much a part of each other that sometimes I feel we have fused into a single entity.
My life with Ranjon has been as vibrant and colourful as any I could have imagined for myself. He is an extremely creative person ? some would even call him a bit eccentric perhaps ? and is constantly thinking of new ways to channelise this . To me, that’s the most challenging and exhilarating part of life. Although we are both almost 50 now, we feel as young as we did in our twenties.
I am perhaps Ranjon’s biggest fan ? I love his mind and intellect and his sense of humour. I admire his ability to rise above the mundane realities of life and try to find beauty and poetry in everything. I also have a lot of respect for his drive and energy ? we do so much that sometimes it seems amazing that we still find time to do more. We run this successful business together, there’s so much to do in theatre, a family to be taken care of, and our open house where friends can walk in anytime. Yet, the minute you suggest a new idea to Ranjon, you’ll see his eyes sparkling. He’s always ready to try new things ? rather, we are ? because we almost always agree on our work. Of course, that’s not to say we don’t have our disagreements ? Ranjon has a temper that flares up at the slightest provocation. But thankfully, I am very even tempered and rarely ever react when he loses his cool. So that way, things get balanced out.
He has also been an excellent father to our two sons. His attitude towards parenting is completely in keeping with his unconventional personality ? he has always been a friend to our sons, never talking down to them, never haranguing them about studies, never expecting them to do anything according to his wishes and even encouraging them to defy as many rules as possible. Both of us have tried to instil a sense of independent thought in our sons ? 21-year-old Indrajeet and 18-year-old Abhimanyu, and are inordinately proud of both.
Photograph by Asif Saud