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Murmurs: Moments with Soumitra Chatterjee (Episode 1)

November 29, 2020 | By

Soumitra Chatterjee is a maverick genius who dabbled the different streams of performing and creative arts with ease and a rare poise. For six decades he remained a harbinger of hope for Bengalis all around the globe. He was a way of life, a pride in the collective racial identity. Only his mentor Satyajit Ray and the universal gurudev Rabindranath Tagore precede him in adoration and reverence.

But Soumitra Chatterjee was never a star in the glamour sky. He was a daily sustenance in the mundane. Firmly rooted, in his private spaces he was a curious mind free of inhibitions. Silhouette editor Amitava Nag had the privilege of engaging with him in numerous discussions over months and years. Not interviews in the formal sense. But exchanges – of ideas, experiences and reflections.

Blue Pencil is set to release a short and succinct account of those interactions as the book Murmurs: Silent Steals with Soumitra Chatterjee, on 19th January 2021 to celebrate the legend’s 87th birthday..

For every Sunday till then, there will be individual episodes of the book.

1 TREES (Soumitra Chatterjee) Memoirs by Amitava Nag

1 TREE (Soumitra Chatterjee) Memoirs by Amitava Nag

Standing tall, from the private collection of the author

Trees listen to us humans. Certain trees do more than others, in every corner of the earth. Trees inhale whispers that roam around the city speaking of the dead. They become friends; trees outlive us, see life as a whole, forgive and remember.

I remember addresses through trees. Not the names, but the shapes, sizes, colour, fragrance, frames. Probably because I tend to write I find stories in trees, about its tresses. Always. Addresses without trees are barren, unidentifiable, lost.

Trees, to me define gravity, balance space, murmur peace and arrest time. Trees make us believe that life has been the same, and also that it has flown down our winter sleep.

Trees remind us of timelessness. Eternity.

Trees also connote shelter, shade, support. The green interconnect between the red earth and the blue sky.

‘Gaach’, in Bengali meaning tree, is the name of the first documentary on him.

My friend Catherine Berge, of mesmeric energy and French efficacy looked for the roots in search of a tree.

I watched it first twenty years ago, in Brussels after a vegetarian dinner in the cozy, half-lit apartment of Bo van der Werf.

‘Gaach’ reminds me of time standing still. Looking at the unrepeatable moments of time.

Soumitra Chatterjee reminds me of the same – the unrepeatable moments of standing still.

This is a preview collection of interactions that is set to release as the book Murmurs: Moments with Soumitra Chatterjee by Amitava Nag, on 19th January 2021 to celebrate the legend’s 87th birthday.

MURMURS SILENT STEALS WITH SOUMITRA CHATTERJEE
 

Click here to read all published episodes of Murmurs: Moments with Soumitra Chatterjee.

 
Catherine Berge’s Gaach (The Tree, 1998) is a rare documentary on Soumitra Chatterjee. Silhouette is grateful to Catherine and producer James Ivory for providing permission to make it available to the Silhouette readers.

More to read on Soumitra Chatterjee

Ke Jaino Go Dekechhe Aamay: The Songs of Soumitra

Soumitra Chatterjee – A Habit of Our Lives

Soumitra Chatterjee on Acting in Satyajit Ray’s Films – Exclusive Interview (Part 1)

Soumitra Chatterjee on Acting in Satyajit Ray’s Films – Exclusive Interview (Part 2)

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Amitava Nag is an independent film critic based in Kolkata and editor of Silhouette. His most recent books on cinema are Murmurs: Silent Steals with Soumitra Chatterjee, 16 Frames and Smriti Sattwa o Cinema. His earlier writings include the acclaimed books Satyajit Ray’s Heroes and Heroines published by Rupa and Beyond Apu: 20 Favourite film roles of Soumitra Chatterjee published by Harper Collins India. He also writes poetry and short fiction in Bengali and English – observing life in a platter. He can be reached at amitavanag.net.
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