Jayant Kripalani has tales to tell about Calcutta’s New Market

Kolkata, April 30 (IANS) Moving from the reel to the pen, actor-director Jayant Kripalani has come up with a book of short stories set against the British era 139-year-old New Market – the oldest municipal market in the city and a heritage structure.

Kripalani, who emerged as one of the first small screen stars in India by playing roles in popular TV soaps like “Mr ya Mrs” and “Khandaan” in the 1980s, says the book – New Market Tales – “happened accidentally”.

“There’s no element of me in the book. It might feel that two or three of these people in my book are not from the New Market. It’s true they are not. But they kind of get into the milieu of New Market and (erstwhile) Calcutta. So I let them be,” said Kripalani, whose performance in the TV soap “Ji Mantriji” also got critical acclaim.

Jayant was flanked by ‘Hippockets’ drummer Nondon Bagchi, journalist and writer Kishore Bhimani and public relations expert Rita Bhimani, when the book was launched here Monday evening.

“In Mumbai, we see only heroes everywhere. So I thought of writing something about dreams. One incident there, one here complete my stories,” said Kripalani.

The book published by Pan Macmillan India dwells on New Market of the 1960s, telling stories of a certain Francis – a baker boy, Ganguly Gainjeewallah and other interesting characters.

Stories are based on fictional characters, mostly created from the memory that the author has of the place, telling stories of their dreams, goals, aspirations and heartbreaks.

“His stories are so unpredictable. In one of the stories, he writes about a boy riding a cow! What is interesting about his stories is where he drifts you off, and that is the wicked part of him. At the beginning of each story, you wonder if its Jayant Kripalani speaking but suddenly you find that all the narrators are different characters and not he,” said Rita Bhimani.

“The characters and stories in this book have a certain kind of culture that one associates with the New Market. You don’t have to be ‘marketer chhele’ but they are linked to the life in Calcutta – a way of associating with the city,” said moderator Anjum Katyal.

Kripalani also joked about selling 600 copies of his book already, saying people thought it to be a book about the share market.

When asked about what he thought about the state of affairs in the New Market, and its future, Kripalani replied: “I don’t see the future, I report the past.”

The market complex with its Gothic architecture was built by the British to meet their needs. It threw its doors open on January 1, 1874.

Till some time back, the New Market – also called Hogg Market after then Calcutta Municipal Corporation chairman Sir Stewart Hogg – was the haunt of all fashionable Kolkatans.

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