About a Zoo

shyamal

I was hunched over my desk trying to finish an article, oblivious to the buzz of the busy newsroom. It was close to three in the afternoon and the languor of the morning had given way to frenzied activity. The tea boy had deposited a glass of insipid tea next to the computer but I hadn’t looked up to nod at him like I usually did. There was just too much to finish. No time to waste on pleasantries.

I sensed someone standing next to my table. “What is it Vishnu?” I barked irritably, expecting to find the young man standing there. But it wasn’t the youngster who delivered cups of tea to our desks throughout the day. A tall man stood next to me staring at me curiously. There was something oddly familiar about him. I couldn’t put my finger on what it was. I wiped the look of irritation off my face and replaced it with a polite smile. “Can I help you? Are you looking for someone?” I asked in Bangla.

 He cleared his throat. “Actually I was looking for the features editor. Is she around?”

 The features editor, my boss at that point of time, hadn’t come in to work.

 I shook my head. “She isn’t here yet. Would you like to wait? Can I get you a cup of tea?”

 He smiled. “No, I’m in a hurry. Can you give her this?” He held out an envelope.

 I look it from him. “If you don’t mind,” I began. “Can I ask you something?”

 He smiled. “Of course, what is it?”

 “Aren’t you a film actor? I think I’ve seen you in a few movies.”

 His face lit up like a Christmas tree. “You recognized me?” He was beaming now.

 I nodded somewhat sheepishly. “You looked familiar and I have seen your movies. You were brilliant in Chiriyakhana.”

 What I didn’t tell him was that I’d always been fascinated by his acting even though he was never the leading man. He could transform into a menacing persona with a mere twist of his mouth or an eyebrow arch.

 He smiled. “Thank you.” There was a faraway look in his eyes. “That was another time.”

 A few minutes later, he was gone. I stared at the envelope in my hands before putting it away in a safe place to hand over to my editor later. I didn’t remember what his name was. It wouldn’t have been polite to ask him. There was no Google those days so I hoped that my editor would recognize him from the contents of the envelope.

 I looked him up on the internet many many years later. Shyamal Ghoshal. That was his name. He had acted in many great movies, Chiriyakhana being one of them.

Last night, while watching the movie, I suddenly had this flashback. Dr Bhujangadhar Das of Golap Colony, had turned out to be such a mild-mannered gentleman in real life!

6 thoughts on “About a Zoo

    1. Thanks for reading Tarang. You should watch the movie, Chiriyakhana. It’s a Byomkesh Bakshi movie, made by Satyajit Ray, starring Uttam Kumar. A classic. You should enjoy watching it, with subtitles 🙂

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      1. I will watch if I find one with subtitles. Once I found a movie {Don’t remember the name}, starring Sushmita Sen and Jessu Sengupta {The one from Piku}. I really wanted to watch but there was no subtitles. I understand Bengali but not that well that I can watch a whole movie. 🙂

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  1. I was fascinated by the story. It had so many characters yet everyone had a role to play in the plot. I saw this movie around eight years ago though I have often heard about it from my parents. This man was brilliant as the antagonist. But if there was one casting that I didn’t like, it was Mahanayak. Somehow Byomkesh Bakshi’s sharpness was missing in his on screen persona. Though it would be fair to mention that my father always attributed this dislike to my severe admiration for Soumitro Chatterjee in the role of Feluda.

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    1. Thanks for reading Sonia. I had first watched this when I was a little girl. At that time, I didn’t approve of Uttam Kumar being a sleuth. I loved him in his romantic roles and yes, Soumitra was THE detective for me. However, as an adult I feel he has done a brilliant job. Perhaps even better than Abir. Who is the best Byomkesh for me 🙂

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