The male gigolos are most scared of the press.
Most of the male gigolos are undercover.
Almost all of them are married and have a family.
There is a pick up joint for male gigolos around this place – Victoria Memorial.
When Kunal Basu was sharing all these facts, it reinstated that there is a Kalkatta within a Kolkata. Yajneseni Chakraborti was the moderator and the ever gracious Sharmila Tagore was the other Panelist.
The session was on Kalkatta – the latest novel by Kunal Basu. Its about a Bangladeshi Muslim refugee Jami, who turns into a gigolo and how life unfolds for him in this city. Set on the backdrop of Zakaria Street and Chitpur, the idea for this novel came to Kunal when he met a Marwari speaking fluent Bengali in one of the Lit fests.
Indeed there is Kolkata, there is Calcutta but there is also a Kalkatta for a major part of the population residing here today.
When Sharmila Tagore spoke about her city where she has grown up, studied, attended stardom, fallen in love, got married, she got nostalgic with the characteristic glint in her eyes. When she visited the shooting location of Apur Sansar after 40 years of shooting, the location was still the same. There are parts of Kolkata which perhaps, never change and that makes the city so unique and close to the heart.
Kunal went on explaining how tough the job was to get the research done on male gigolos in Kolkata. He had to get his interview published in a leading daily so that the gigolos could grow confidence that he is not a reporter. He also went ahead and spoke to some of the clients of the gigolos which was even tougher. As strange as it might be, he actually got the lead to a gigolo through Police only . Through the life of a gigolo in Kolkata we travel through different lanes, bylanes and dark allies of Kolkata. Parallel to this there are also changes in micro equations between a shopkeeper and a buyer and evnetually also at all stratas of society with change of hands of Political power. Different interesting characters like fake passport agent who can hand over passport of almost any nation, reporter, clients, political agent and many more who forms a an integral part of Calcutta Chromosome join in. We see love, brotherhood, friendship, betrayal all happening in Kolkata or rather Kalkatta.
Sharmila Tagore remembers the song of Suman Chattopadhyay – tomake chai as one song which reminds her of Kolkata ..
So what is your Calcutta? Kolkata? or Kalkatta ?
We have 2 more days to go for some more amazing sessions. Follow the hashtag #Tatasteelkalam #KolLitmeet and check out Kolkata Literary Meet for more details .