Renowned Indian film critic, Utpal Datta, unveiled his latest literary endeavour yesterday with the release of an anthology featuring four novellas. Titled “Kapurusar Tarowal” (Sword of a Coward), the collection showcases Datta’s competence not only as a film critic but also as a gifted storyteller in Assamese literature. The inaugural copy of the anthology was purchased and officially released by Dr. Subhra Kinkor Goswami, a distinguished author, ophthalmologist, and childhood friend of Datta.
The four novellas contained in this anthology originally published on the pages of ROOPKAR, a highly esteemed cultural magazine in the Assamese language. Set against the backdrop of Guwahati, the pivotal city of Northeast India, these narratives unfold the changed climate after the socially tumultuous period of the late eighties and early nineties. Marked by mass movements against illegal immigrants, the emergence of ULFA, the Assam Accord, and the rise of the regional political party AGP, Assam experienced significant social transformations. Datta, who was working as a journalist during this period, draws from his personal experiences, enriching the novellas with a vivid portrayal of the changed social milieu.
Published by Roopkar Prakashan, the publisher of the erstwhile ROOPKAR magazine, this anthology is the fifth offering from the publisher, emphasizing the continuation of its legacy beyond the magazine’s discontinuation. Printed by Colour Plus Offset under the supervision of Bhaskar Barman, the cover was designed by Sourish Mitra of Kolkata, and the anthology is priced at Rs 200.
Noteworthy critics and literary figures have lauded Datta’s work in this anthology. Dr. Birinchi Kumar Das lauds the cinematic touch evident in the narrative, while national award-winning actor Dr. Jahanara Begum acknowledges her initial attraction to Utpal Datta’s writing in the pages of ROOPKAR. Prasanta Kumar Das, an eminent short story writer, praises the unique visualization crafted by Datta, setting it apart from other works. Author Anjali Mahanta highlights the qualities of smartness and youthfulness reflected in Datta’s writings, and Bidyut Kumar Bhuyan, a cultural journalist predicts that this anthology will serve as a benchmark for creative writings of a working journalist and as a specimen of Assamese prose from the end of the last century. Reader Banajit Deka, in appreciation, praises the narrative pattern employed in the novellas.
In addition to his recent anthology, Utpal Datta, a stalwart in the literary landscape, has demonstrated his continuing influence with the success of his travelogue, “Aparupa Andaman.” Remarkably, this travelogue recently came out with its second print, thirty years after its initial publication, garnering a positive reception from readers. Datta’s prolific presence in the writing domain spans four decades, during which he has cultivated a substantial and dedicated readership across various genres.
Given Datta’s track record and the acclaim surrounding his diverse body of work, there is a presumption that this newly released anthology, “Kapurusar Tarowal,” will be met with equal enthusiasm and acceptance by readers. The culmination of his experiences and storytelling prowess, enhanced over the years, is poised to resonate with his existing fan base while potentially attracting new admirers to his unique narrative style.