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Home / Entertainment / Srijit Mukherji goes back to school with Zulfiqar

Srijit Mukherji goes back to school with Zulfiqar

When I was three months old, I was put into the Dolna creche wrapped in a kantha. And I came out of Dolna Day School in full-length trousers after completing my Class X,” smiles filmmaker Srijit Mukherji, biting into a piece of KFC’s crispy chicken at the food court in Acropolis mall on September 24. His film Zulfiqar, which releases on October 7, is running in one of the plexes of Cinepolis. It’s a very special screening that Srijit has organised for a very select group of teachers and students from Dolna Day School.

Arindam Chatterjee   |   Published 29.09.16, 12:00 AM

When I was three months old, I was put into the Dolna creche wrapped in a kantha. And I came out of Dolna Day School in full-length trousers after completing my Class X,” smiles filmmaker Srijit Mukherji, biting into a piece of KFC’s crispy chicken at the food court in Acropolis mall on September 24. His film Zulfiqar, which releases on October 7, is running in one of the plexes of Cinepolis. It’s a very special screening that Srijit has organised for a very select group of teachers and students from Dolna Day School.

In the audience is Neelanjana Dasgupta, to whom Srijit has dedicated Zulfiqar, an adaptation of William Shakespeare’s Julius Caesar and Antony and Cleopatra. While Neelanjana introduced him to Julius Caesar, Srijit’s exposure to the underworld happened through Mario Puzo, the author of The Godfather  (Zulfiqar has also been dedicated to Puzo). 
For Srijit, his school days are a mix of “fascinating musical sessions, great learning and unlearning and unconditional friendship and love”. t2 chatted with Srijit in between a steady stream of selfie requests from fans — aged 10 to 40 — who kept coming up to him at the food court. 

Julius Caesar, my first love

It had an indelible effect on me. Later in life I could mark out a Cassius, a Brutus, an Antony, a Caesar. And when you can see the characters all around you, you know that you have internalised the text. I read Julius Caesar in Class X and it captured my imagination. And this special screening is kind of a culmination. I owe so much to my Dolna teachers.

Dolna, my moral compass 

The greatest thing about Dolna is the individual care and the stress on the vernacular. The school encourages independent thought, and to go beyond the textbook. Every man has a value system of what is right and what is wrong. Also, what is grey. Every man has a moral compass and that was inculcated in me by Dolna when I was three or four. And that remains with me till today.

Neelanjanadi, my teacher

She brought out the inherent drama in Shakespeare’s plays through her teaching. And she made it very visual. The entire class would be reading out Julius Caesar taking turns and it was almost like a play happening. It came alive. We would look forward to reading Julius Caesar in class. For me, Brutus, and his betrayal, was the most relevant part of Julius Caesar. That theme of betrayal struck a chord. Brutus was misled... he was gullible and he was manipulated.... Another great thing about Neelanjanadi was that she dealt in grey a lot. And immediately certain characters became very real. Before that I was in a world of heroes and villains. Before Class X, for me, the world was divided into He-Man and Skeletor. There was nothing in between. She introduced that touch of grey.  

Aunty Mashi, my principal of pluralism

Madhusree Dasgupta aka Aunty Mashi was my principal. The name Aunty Mashi just goes to show the pluralism that Dolna drives home. All languages come together, all sensibilities come together... and that name is somewhere a microcosm of Dolna’s ethos.
 
Srijit, the student

I was the perpetual second or third boy in school. The first boy was Balaji, a dear friend and a prodigy. He teaches in Dolna now. Whatever I am today in terms of my studies, exposure to music, worldview, value system is because of Dolna, apart from Presidency College and JNU. We used to learn Rabindrasangeet intensively. We would look forward to our prayer sessions before classes commenced ... every day apart from the prayer song there used to be one hour of singing in the hall. We would sing everything from Rabindrasangeet, The Beatles, folk songs, Punjabi and Gujarati songs, to John Lennon’s Imagine. Jyotishka Dasgupta played the piano and taught us music.

Pictures: Chanchal Ghosh 



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