Born and brought up in a completely Hindi speaking environment, my relationship with my mother tongue Bangla remained detached for long. My parents did speak Bangla at home, but they mostly spoke in their village dialect which was quite different from the sweetest language of the world Bangla. I remember my mother used to teach me Bangla with the help of a small Bangla alphabet book she had when I was quite young, but somehow I remained uninterested and my learning of Bangla never went beyond the introduction part.
Ours was a joint family and we all siblings conversed in Hindi mostly, except the eldest two who studied at a Bengali medium school in Delhi. As regards our quality of Bangla, I remember a comment from one of our cousins at Kolkata, when she visited Delhi for the first time. She said, “Even the Bangla you speak, sounds like Hindi”. For her ours was Hindi accented Bangla, absolutely devoid of the sweetness of the language.
Watching movies in our mother tongue could have helped us with our spoken Bengla, but those were the ‘Doordarshan’ days with very limited slot for the regional language movies; and whatever little Bangla movies they showed were mostly art movies depicting miserable tales of poverty, unemployment, social injustice and despair. Who would have, at that age, liked to watch such ‘reality shows’? I did hear about a few great Bangla movies like – Pather Panchali (পথের পাঁচালী), Apur Sansar (অপুর সংসার) etc. but never watched one, partly because I had no real interest and partly because there wasn’t really any opportunity to watch them. It’s only recently that I’ve got to watch quite a good number of Bangla movies (thanks to the Zee5 and Amazon Prime subscriptions I have) and developed a liking for them.
It all started with 2019 Bangla movie “Robibaar’ (On a Sunday) starring Jaya Ahsan, whose serene beautiful face looked so ‘familiar’ to me that I just couldn’t resist watching the movie. Robibaar was undoubtedly a wonderful movie and so was Jaya’s performance. She was just amazing and no wonder that the movie had got her the Best Lead Actress Award in Foreign Language Film category at Madrid International Film Festival, 2020. As I looked for her other movies, I came across two of her even more remarkable movies – “Bishorjan” (2017) and its sequel “Bijoya” (2019). And then one after another I went on watching more and more Bangla movies and today I’m a big admirer of Bangla cinema and I realise what I had missed all these years.