Book Review: Koral Dasgupta makes Shantiniketan come alive in 'Fall Winter Collections'
‘Fall Winter Collections’ soaks you in the history of Shantiniketan and all things related to the place.
The first thing that catches a reader’s attention about ‘Fall Winter Collections’ is how descriptively and beautifully Shantiniketan is described from the first chapter itself. The book opens from the main protagonist Sanghamitra Banerjee’s eyes. Shantiniketan’s annual winter festival, the ever popular ‘Poush Mela’ is on and Sanghamitra, like a by stander, gives the readers a glimpse of the hustle bustle that engulfs the small little village during that time.
The first chapter sets the tone of Koral Dasgupta’s latest book set in Tagore’s Shantiniketan, which houses the world renowned Viswa Bharati University and where the lead protagonists Dr Aniruddh Jain Solanki and Sanghamitra Banerjee teach. In the beginning the two characters seem stark contrast but as we move ahead in the story, one finds how both are seeking solitude yet yearning for something or someone to share their life. Both have a past that makes them the way they are, yet their interest for art, theology and culture draws them to each other.
This is Dasgupta’s debut in fiction writing and she makes the transition smoothly. The language is simple which helps in making the story compelling to read. It is a mature love story, a story of longing, a story of moving ahead and Shantiniketan plays an important character in the story. In fact, Dasgupta’s writing comes alive while describing a place that she perhaps knows all too well.
The author gets the little nuances of the place perfectly. From the university areas, to the annual Dol Utsav to the history of Kala Bhavan- each little corner of Tagore’s land comes alive in the book. In one instance, the author describes a rickshaw puller playing the flute at dusk. It’s a little portion in a book which focuses on the lives of two professors attracted towards each other, but the little moment is beautifully described that it speaks volumes about the character of the place. That Shantiniketan is heavily soaked in culture and that even a mere rickshaw puller is connected to art is highlighted brilliantly by the author.
While the story may take a certain predictable turns in certain places, the transition of Sanghamitra from an elusive loner to someone who deeply connects with Aniruddh is written well. Similarly, Aniruddh, a sculptor by profession, has certain set notions but he can’t help but fall deep in love with Sanghamitra. While he initially initiates a conversation with her out of sheer curiosity, later he is driven by urge to make her his muse for an ambitious project that he has undertaken. The characters are well defined and make for very strong individuals- people you would easily relate to.
‘Fall Winter Collections’ soaks you in the history of Shantiniketan and all things related to the place. It makes you feeling warm and fuzzy with its love story and most importantly it makes you want to visit Tagore’s land and soak in a bit of heritage.
Price: Rs 395
Publisher: Niyogi Books