Remembering an elusive genius
The year 2010 began on a really enthusiastic and lively note as fans, admirers, enthusiasts, followers, disciples, addicts, et al, of the works of the elusive Saurav Kumar Chaliha gathered in the Lakhiram Barua Sadan of Guwahati to discuss the oeuvre of the prolific writer. The meet was organized by the Saurav Kumar Chaliha Anuragi Sangstha. Talking about the meet, an organizer said, “January 1 is supposed to be a day of Chaliha for sharing certain ‘Bhal khabar’ (Good News) to the newspaper readers. As such the ‘Saurav Kumar Chaliha Anuragi Sangstha’ has selected this specific date for their discussion.”
He further said, “Sourabh Kumar Chaliha is a nameless and faceless writer of Assam, albeit a highly honored one at that. For nearly six decades, he has existed only through his writings and voice – short stories, plays, anthologies and translations, radio talks, etc. With little biography, no official photograph and no so-called interview(s), he is more elusive than the famous American recluses Thomas Pynchon, and JD Salinger.” Chaliha was conferred with two major literary awards – the Sahitya Academi Award in 1974 and Assam Valley Literary Award in1995. He accepted them but not in person; he accepted one by post and the other through one of his relatives.
Prof. Ranjit Kumar Dev Goswami was the chairperson of the meeting, and the appointed speaker was Sahitya Akademi award-winning writer Dr. Dhrubajyoti Bora. Noted scriptwriter Ranjit Sarma opened the discussion with a significant evaluation of SKC’s works. The meeting was convened to discuss the possibilities of translating the works of Sourabh Kumar Chaliha to different languages, the development and maintenance of a professional website on the writer, and also the collection of the films, videos and radio talks based on the literary works of the genius, amongst others.
The added attraction of the event was the screening of a film “Asanta Electron”, directed by Kaushik Nath, which was based on the first short story of the same title by Chaliha. Chaliha says that he “penned it down (the story) for the cash prize of Rs. 30 in order to pay the arrears of the nearby cigarette shop’. A total of 57 characters have been used by Kaushik Nath in the film. While Naba Medhi and Sudip Prakash Barua are the enact the lead roles of Nikhil and Ranjan respectively, the other actors are Indra Bania, Jayanta Bhagawati, Inu Barua, Arun Hazarika, Madhusmita Barkakoti, amongst others.