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The Legend of Indian Cinema: Gouraprasad Ghosh

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The gentleman was observing me for last few hours.He asked me ,'You look to be tense,but why ? We all will adjust you.One of us will sleep on the floor.'No,this is not the reason.I was just finding similarity of your face with Gouraprasad Ghosh.' I replied." Have you ever seen Gouraprasad Ghosh " He asked.'No,I have seen his films.' I uttered.

Gouraprasad Ghosh and Sarat Pujari were two of my favorites in Odia Cinema in 1970s.I saw almost all the films in which they acted.It so happened that in 1988 when on tour to Atabira I went to Larambha to meet Sarat Pujari.He was the Principal of Larambha College for many years.We continued to meet till 2012.He was the first Super Hero of Odia Cinema.Same was Gouraprasad Ghosh.While Sarat Pujari acted with many heroines,Gouraprasad acted mostly with his beloved-wife Chandana ( Parbati Ghosh ).All these greats were friends of my brother Khetrapal Mishra who also acted in many Odia films.

I always wanted to meet Gouraprasad when I became a cultural administrator in 1990 after joining NBT,but he vanished from public life in early 1990s when new cinema came in Odisha .Our chance meeting was almost accidental.

It was 1991,I was doing a Meet The Author Programme at Bhubaneswar in collaboration with Odisha Sahitya Akademi on the occasion of National Book Week.The authors featured were Ramakanta Rath,Binapani Mohanty and Haraprasad Das.It was the first ever such programme in Odisha and I was thrilled,my heart was full with tension and anxiety. We were to travel by train only those days from Delhi and the only good train was Neelachal Express.My ticket was on wait-list and it did not confirm.

But I had to go.I boarded the train with full fear and anxiety.No 2nd AC compartment was there in Neelachal Express,it was First Class only.4 people were to be in one coupe.I found place in one and sat there.

Soon the conductor came and checked the ticket.He had to adjust one of their officers who was travelling to Allahabad.He asked me to de-board or to go to the general compartment,brought his officer and put him on the seat.

Suddenly,one of the co-passengers asked the Conductor," Does this man to whom you have now put here possess a confirmed ticket ?" The conductor replied that it is his prerogative to allow or disallow.'No," the co-passenger strongly objected.All others supported him .He brought me from outside the coupe and allowed me to sit on his berth.He said to the Conductor,'This young man has a valid ticket,we all will adjust him as we adjust your officer."So strong and impressive was the voice that the Officer had to advise the conductor to agree to it.

The train was moving.I was grateful to this gentleman,for without his intervention I had no other way to get down or to go to a general compartment to find a place to stand.I was looking at his face,it looked familiar.The tea vendor came,we took tea.Time passed,we reached Allahabad.The railway Officer got down.We were 5 in the coupe,4 with confirmed ticket and I ,with a unconfirmed one.I was struggling in me to recognize the gentleman.He was looking like Gouraprasad Ghosh.

The gentleman was observing me for last few hours.He asked me ,'You look to be tense,but why ? We all will adjust you.One of us will sleep on the floor.'No,this is not the reason.I was just finding similarity of your face with Gouraprasad Ghosh.' I replied." Have you ever seen Gouraprasad Ghosh " He asked.'No,I have seen his films.' I uttered.

He laughed and laughed.Oh my God,so hearty was the laugh , and so intimate ! " Good that there are still some people who can recognize me.I was all those years feeling sad that people have forgotten me.Dear I am Gouraprasad Ghosh." He said.

Like Sarat Pujari Gouraprasad was matinee idol of of my adolescent days.We discussed many things.I had seen his film 'Kaa' ,it got a national award. Gouraprasad went to Delhi to sign papers for for national telecast of 'Kaa' by Doordarshan.The concerned officer wanted bribe and he was dis-heartened.Some how,'Kaa' was nationally telecast .

And,evening came at Mughal Sarai.Gouraprasad ordered for food for all,opened his whisky bottle.We all took our pegs,food too.Suddenly,one of our co-passengers ( He was in Air Force and was travelling to Kharagpur ) started crying.What he narrated was very touchy,his wife has an extra marital affairs with his brother and he is not in a position to do anything than to tolerate.Poor fellow,fighting for the country and lost war at home,so painful.Hev awnted Gouraprasad to make a film on his plight and Gouraprasad agreed to it while consoling him. The Air Force Officer insisted to sleep on the floor and we had no other way than to agree.

We reached Cuttack. Guraprasad got down.We did not meet again.One day I was at Cuttack ,I met Sarada Prasanna Naik,my former colleague at SIET,Bhubaneswar.Sarada Babu was Gouraprasad's brother in law,Chandana's brother.

'Will you not going to Chandana's residence.Today is the 10th day ( Dasaha ) of Guraprasad's death', he asked.....
'Oh,Gouraprasad is no more. Chandana Madam does not know me.Should I go to tell her that I once traveled with Gouraprasad and shared food and drinks.Should I tell her about how Gouraprasad helped me...a stranger.Should i ask her if Gouraprasad could make a film on the life of that poor Air force Officer whose wife was in a relationship with his brother...' I asked this question to me again and again and could not get an answer.'Not on this occasion .I will go another day ', I replied.

On my way back to Puri I was praying God for the best for Gouraprasad's soul.

The author is a senior editor , media academician and author. He has served the government of India as a senior bureaucrat in the North East. He has taught Development Communication at various institutions of Higher Learning including IIMC

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