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People Of Pujo

Durga Pujo is a People’s carnival and having said so, it is about the spirit of millions of people who give this festival a carnival status. The grandeur and glory of this festival is a larger than life experience. During the festivity days, the entire City of Joy becomes an exhibition of creative excellence beyond imagination. But amongst all the fun and frenzy, what we tend to miss out or forget is that, this splendor and magnificence is backed by relentless efforts and contributions of People who come from different walks of life and make Pujo even more special for all of us

From the man who helps us drive around in his taxi at midnight to visit the pujo-pandals to the Traffic Sergeant who keeps the traffic flowing through the busy city roads, a food stall owner who is up and running all through the night to keep up with our hunger pangs every now and then and a flower seller who waits throughout the year to adorn Durga Ma with his bouquets and garlands, unmentioned as they are, Durga Pujo is unfathomable without all of them.

Thus began the journey of Asian Paints Sharad Shamman with #PeopleOfPujo. It is a tribute from Asian Paints Sharad Shamman to the People of Kolkata & beyond, for whom Pujo is just not another festival, it is a significant part of their lives, a large part actually!

#PeopleOfPujo is a series of micro-tales, spinning around the lives of all these city dwellers including the ones who hail from Kolkata but professions took them out of the city, leaving behind their heart & soul with the City of Joy. It narrates the stories of all these unsung heroes which we rarely come across. Without the collective efforts of all these individual tales, the grandeur of Durga Puja would have been lost somewhere.

The Malakar Brothers - Ashis Malakar & Prabir Malakar - The Sholapith Artists

Ashis Malakar & Prabir Malakar

During the time of World War II, when the perils of destruction was looming large, a new avatar of art was emerging here in the horizon of Kolkata Pujo. The war in Germany, incidentally opened ways for Shola art in Bengal’s Durga Pujo premise. The gilded foils and glass beads used in decorating the devi were sent by daak (post) from Europe and specifically from Germany. But once the war broke out, the stream of exports dwindled and the artisans here, in a frantic search to look for indigenous alternatives, turned to Shola, an aquatic wild herb grown in marshy wetlands. Sholapith then evolved as the medium for Durga’s décor. Mrityunjoy Malakar of Bankapasi pioneered in introducing ornate for Durga & Kali Pratimas made of Shola which even took Netaji Subhash Chandra Bose by surprise at that time. Bose went on to use ‘Shola r Saaj’ made by late Mrityunjoy for Kali Pujo at his residence.know more

Debajyoti Roy - Social Activist

Debojyoti Roy

“I strongly believe that the differently abled persons have inherent rights to their human dignity and irrespective of the origin, nature and seriousness of their handicaps and disabilities become as self-reliant as possible’’, says Debajyoti Roy, who runs an NGO called National Institute of Professionals (NIP). NIP initiated India’s first ever university directed computer course for the visually & physically challenged persons directed by Indira Gandhi National Open University (IGNOU) in 2004 & in the same year, two of their visual impaired students cleared the IGNOU exams with flying colours with all other general category students.

Debajyoti closely observed the kind of hurdles people with disabilities have to face every day in public transport. Many bus operators avoid entertaining such people, especially during the festive period due to heavy rush. “I was keen on changing this scenario. So, instead of a head on challenge, we opted to win them with love & humanity’’, commented Roy, who introduced a mass Rakhi bandhan campaign by the differently-abled people in the bus terminals of the city every year resulting in a gradual change in the behavioral pattern of bus drivers and conductors towards them.know more

Gokulchandra Das - Dhak Artist

Gokulchandra Das

It was during one of his concert tours with Ustad Zakir Hussain he came across a lady at a music store in Los Angeles demonstrating saxophone, clarinet, brass, trumpets to customers by playing them all by herself.” If a lady in US can do so to earn her bread why not our girls back in Bengal? In a way she was my inspiration to build up an all girl’s dhaki team starting with the women from my own family’’ says a smiling Gokul Chandra Das, the man who is the face of Bengal’s dhak in national & international stages today. know more

Saju Talukdar - A Good Samaritan

Saju Talukdar

As a little boy, sporting new clothes in Pujo was an unaffordable luxury for Saju Talukdar. His father, who was a tailor by profession, used to stitch shirts for him that was made out of leftover clothing materials of army men from nearby Hasimara Air base. This little boy is in mid forties today. He ensures that the poor and underprivileged people from the neighbouring villages in Dooars get garments round the year and more so during Durga Pujo. Saju Talukdar started a Clothes Bank with used garments in 2017. He collects used garments from people and distributes it amongst people who feel privileged to own even a used shirt or a saree.know more

Suparna Kanti Ghosh - Music Composer

Suparna Kanti Ghosh

Did you know that two of Bengali music’s all time cult songs were composed on the go? Yes, one in a double decker 2B bus en route to Hazra from Manna Dey’s residence at Hedua & the last part of another historic number was composed in an upper bunk of a sleeper class compartment in Howrah-Mumbai Mail via Nagpur.

Seventies is labeled as the golden era of Bengali music, with stalwart music directors like Hemanta Mukhopadhyay, Nachiketa Ghosh, Sudhin Dasgupta, Salil Chaudhury & RD Burman composing classic numbers one after another in their Pujo albums. That was the time when a young lad, barely a teenager then, dared to compose a Pujo release song for legendary Manna Dey in 1978. Many senior artists of that time had their strong reservations, but his ‘Manna Kaku’ chose his composition over some senior music directors. ‘’Se amar choto bon’’ was an instant hit after its release. ‘’I was thrilled to hear the song playing in the Biswakarma Pujo pandals that time and by the time Pujo came the song became a rage’’, recalls Suparna Kanti Ghosh, now in his early sixties today. That very year Suparna Kanti's another composition for Bhupen Hazarika, ’O malik.... megh kore dao’ also became a big hit in Pujo.know more