Reel spins out a legend’s legacy

Ratnottama Sengupta’s thoughts are as succinctly sewn into the fabric of words as is her passion for visuals.

Published: 19th May 2018 10:24 PM  |   Last Updated: 20th May 2018 08:56 AM   |  A+A-

Still from And they Made Classics

Ratnottama Sengupta’s thoughts are as succinctly sewn into the fabric of words as is her passion for visuals. It all started in the creative vortex of her father, author and scriptwriter Nabendu Ghosh’s home, where stories were told and experiences were recounted to reinstate the value of experiences germinating from history and culture. As a birth centenary tribute to her father this year, who scripted classics including Devdas, Sujata and Bandini, she decided to use her acuity to share conversations around screenwriting, one she calls ‘direction on paper’. She does this through And they Made Classics, a film directed by her that’s being shown at the 13th Habitat Film Festival. 

The film gets its meat from an interview of Nabendu Ghosh by director Joy Bimal Roy in May 2005 as he started making Remembering Bimal Roy. “Since he could use only a little part of it, he gave me the full recording. I culled about 25 minutes of that two-hour interview, added clippings of the films, photographs and documents, comments of his colleagues and students, and now it stands at an hour,” says Sengupta. 

The programme will reveal another feather from the family’s creative cap—the launch of That Bird Called Happiness published by Speaking Tiger. This is a collection of nine stories of Nabendu Ghosh in English translation, edited by Sengupta. While five of these have been translated by her, the remaining have been done by other family members and associates. 

It was extremely important that the work be translated, according to her, as she believes that children living outside Bengal or even outside India, will never know their heritage unless it is translated into English, and Hindi. “I realise that Tagore too, would not have got the Nobel had Geetanjali not been made available in English. I have always felt that a major creator like Bibhuti Bhushan Bandopadhyay has been deprived of global recognition due to the failure of us, translators,” she says. 

That Bird Called Happiness comes with universality. They are intuitive, relatable and germane to the world we are living in. “They are part of a chain that takes us from our historical past towards an idolised future,” she says. And like that, she engages in dialogue with words and visuals once again, the two things that have filled her life with pride. The13th Habitat Film Festival is on till May 27, at India Habitat Centre, Lodhi Road. Entry is free. For details, log on to


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