An evening of storytelling

Book bazaar

By Tanisha Bajaj and Chandreyee Ghose
  • Published 28.06.15
(From left) Koneenica Banerjee, Sudipta Chakraborty, Amrita Mukherjee, Prosenjit, Tota Roy Choudhury, Biplab Dasgupta and Bobby Chakraborty at the launch of Amrita's debut novel, Exit Interview, at Starmark, Quest Mall. The novel traces the journey of firebrand lifestyle journalist Rasha Roy and her tryst with scoops, exclusives and office politics in India and Dubai. At the discussion that preceded the launch, Amrita spoke about how exit interviews can often be a sham and how the story is about all that her protagonist could not reveal in the interviews. Prosenjit spoke about Amrita as a fearless journalist herself. Picture by Rashbehari Das

A new book club in town, The Storytellerz, presented an exclusive book reading and interview of author Ayan Pal, at Story bookstore, partnered by t2 , last week.

It was a special reading of the book Crossed and Knotted, India's first composite novel, written by 14 authors in close collaboration. Each chapter is a story in itself, connected through characters, events, emotions and elements of mystery.

Pal, one of the authors of the composite novel, read an excerpt from his chapter and left the listeners wanting for more.

"Calcutta did not have a book club with a student base. We meet once a month and discuss a book. This is the first time we are hosting an author," said Annesha Dutt, the founder of the book club, adding that The Storytellerz is open to students and young professionals.

Dutt takes pride in the fact that the book club has also been able to convert some "non-readers", inculcating in them a love of reading and making them realise that reading is fun.

J.K. Rowling, Paulo Coelho, Chetan Bhagat, Stephenie Meyer, Jeffrey Archer and Amish Tripathi are among the top favourites of the club members.

Ashmita Dutta, 20, an active member of the club, says, "the good thing about this book club is that it is alright if there are a few of us who haven't read a particular book because in that way, the rest of us can enlighten them about the book and make them feel interested in reading it."

Kirti Bhotika, 20, another member of the club, felt that the club is a good way to "stay connected with books and being around people who love to read".

Theatre talk

Saikat Majumdar at the  Readers’ and Writers’ Club adda. (Sayantan Ghosh)

What happens when an author from north Calcutta hosts an adda? The conversation automatically veers towards the lanes and bylanes of the older parts of the city and their heritage. Author Saikat Majumdar, who has made the US his home for the past 16 years, makes a return to north Calcutta, where he grew up, through his second book.

The Firebird explores commercial theatre and para culture of the 1980s. "I love local literature. In fact, I have even used Bengali words such as para to add to the flavour of my novel. This book is about the commercial theatre and a boy's coming of age, his relationship with his mother and his dilemma as he sees her don different roles on stage," said the author at the start of an adda hosted by Mona Sengupta's Readers' and Writers' Club at 40A Creative Studio in Ballygunge last week.

The club revived its adda after a hiatus of five months with Majumdar discussing his book with Ananda Lal, professor of theatre at Jadavpur University and The Telegraph columnist, and theatre director Shuktara Lal. The chat was moderated by writer and actress Baisali Chatterjee Dutt.

From the rise and fall of commercial theatre to how it was upstaged by the more "meaningful" group theatre, the discussion was both riveting and nostalgic. "Commercial theatre was seen as more decadent and hedonistic," said Majumdar, who was inspired by actress Ketaki Dutta's biography.

Ananda Lal traced the city's rich history and theatre culture since the colonial regime. "There is no golden era of theatre in the state. Even now it is flourishing with some excellent productions in four different languages," he added.

Shuktara Lal spoke about the theatre walks that she and her father conducted covering many erstwhile theatre spaces and the sense of pride she experienced.