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Reviving the Credo through Pop Culture: A Study of Sarat Chandra Chattopadhya’s Works

 


Reviving the Credo through Pop Culture: A Study of Sarat Chandra Chattopadhya’s Works

 

Bidya Singh

Ph. D. Research Scholar

Veer Surendra Sai University of Technology

Burla, Odisha, India

 

Abstract:

 

Pop Culture or Popular culture refers to the adaptation of the dominant work to recognize a set of beliefs and objectives. Films being a crucial category of Pop-culture have always served as a mode of communication with the audience. The Indian audience from ages prefer performing arts rather than going through textual data. But both the art forms are rich in cultural and ethnicity. Sarat Chandra Chattopadhyay’s novels like Devdas (1917), Parineeta (1914), Srikanto (1917-1933), Grihadaha (1920) and others have been adapted as movies and serials . The re-telling of the text in visual form does not alter the context but gives a better understanding to the audience. The most celebrated Bengali novelist and short story writer Chattopadhyay is also better known as Chatterjee whose works are adapted and translated. His works not only helps in one’s convenience for imagination but also it gives a vivid idea of one’s true self and the ethical values. The issues of institutions like love, marriage, family and ethics are being discussed in his works very profoundly. Complexities of human relationship is being virtualized and delineated by the adaptations. Digitalisation helps in better understanding and perspective. The immortal story of Dev and Paro, Shekhar and Lolita are patronized and condescend. In the paper the idea of deconstructed self is portrayed. The retelling of past culture through the lenses makes the audiences intrigue about the religion and customs of the precedent. To examine the bold confessions made by the protagonist in the artefacts should be measured. And to mark the gabs in-between the textual and the adaptations is necessary. 

Keywords: Adaptation; Culture; Digitalisation; Gab; Imagination; Religion

Religion and culture are integral and interwoven concepts. The celebrations of human relationships are prominent in the epics. The Indian literary text that are influenced by the religion and culture does represents the life at its best and projects the concepts of temptations, conspiracies, selfishness, sacrifice and  salvation. Epics are relevant to all ages and times. In different artefacts like drama, fiction, poetry, novels and more have a variety of offerings towards the modern literature. The Indian literature is very popular among the audience as it conveys and understands the mindset of the common. As religion and literature goes hand in hand it is difficult to bear humanity without culture. Its helps us to understand different elements of life and helps to channelize the answers. 

 

The Indian English writers like Sarat Chandra, R. K. Narayan, Raja Rao, Salman Rushdie, Amitav Ghosh, Arundhati Roy, Kamala Das have made contemporary realities more comprehensive to the audiences by using the archetypes, images and myths of religious book like that of Ramayana and Mahabharat. It is loved to quote the affinities from the ancient texts due to its everlasting and enigmatic concepts. So according to Sri Aurobindo, Indian epics are embedded with realities, truths, moral, religious and ethical concepts, “They represent Indian way of life and a view of family system and society. These epics represent an overview of ancient Indian culture and traditions which are still being carried by Indians. They give us mental strength and poise in difficult times. Religion has always been the life force of Indians.” (Religious Influence on Indian Literature)  Earlier Indian texts were confined to sacred Hindu writings, which are known as Vedas and Upanishads which were mainly written in Sanskrit. As Sanskrit was identified with the Brahmin religion it was restricted to the upper caste. As the tradition of English literature came into existence, it gave a wider perspective to the Indian writers to analyze the Indian tradition and culture in terms of modernity.  

 

Religion and culture answers the basic and the fundamental questions that are raised by human existence. The myths also teach the true values of human existence that is of morality and ethnicity. The ancient myths still connects and gets associated with individual self as per it beautifully crafted techniques. So in the modern life people have adopted different cultures and traditions. Some of them are evolved out of two cultures or a fusion of the present culture. The new culture that evolves out of the people and is popularly accepted is said to be popular culture.

 

Sarat Chandra Chattopadhyay is also better known as Sarat Chandra Chatterjee whose works are adapted and translated is a celebrated Bengali novelist and short story writer. Devdas (1917), Parineeta (1914), Srikanto (1917-1933), Grihadaha (1920), Dena- Paona (1923) are some of his noted works. His novels have been adapted as movies and TV serials into many different Indian languages like Devdas (1935), Parineeta (2005), Srikanto (1987), Grihadaha (1988) and others. The re-telling of the text in visual form does not alter the context but gives a better understanding to the audience. The modern audience has taken Sarat Chandra’s work into to mainstream through Popular Culture. The adaptations of his works have a profound impact on the new audiences. His works not only helps in one’s convenience for imagination but also it gives a vivid idea of one’s true self and the ethical values. Complexities of human relationship is being virtualized and delineated by the adaptations. Sarat Chandra always in his works projects the ideas of Indian religion and culture as because they are more viable, ethical and highly admirable. It also has a strong moralistic and theistic effect. In addition to it, religion and culture not only have sacred and philosophical attributes but also it explores the exotic, lyrical and nativity. So we can find the issues of institutions like love, marriage, family and ethics are being discussed in Sarat Chandra’s works very profoundly.

 

Moni Shankar Mukherjee who writes under the pseudonym “Shankar” in an interview correctly points out that “Sarat Chandra during his lifetime did not enjoy the kind of respect and popularity accorded to Rabindranath and Bankim Chandra Chattopadhyay.” (Indian publishing industry goes gaga over Bengali novelist Sarat Chandra Chattopadhyay, India Today). As Sarat Chandra’s novels were simple and exemplify the social issues. Adding to it Shankar also declares that “As a novelist Sarat Chandra is more popular than even Rabindranath Tagore, no matter what the intellectuals might feel.” (ibid) The immortal story of Dev and Paro, Shekhar and Lolita are patronized and condescend. The story plot may seem simple and effortless but it is more complex and interwoven. Sarat Chandra’s works helps the reader to have a vivid visualization of text and it helps in better understanding.

 

The retelling of past culture through the lenses makes the audiences intrigue about the religion and customs of the precedent. Digitalisation helps in better understanding and has a wider perspective. Films being a crucial category of Pop-culture have always served as a mode of communication with the audience. The Indian audience from ages prefer performing arts rather than going through textual data. But both the art forms are rich in cultural and ethnicity. Sarat Chandra’s works are wildly adapted into different form of art in different languages. The popularity and the reorganization of Sarat Chandra’s works are wide spread. 

In Sarat Chandra’s works one can easily find the interwoven complexities. There are ample examples in his artefacts that discover the influence of the religion and culture. The immortal story of Dev and Paro, Shekhar and Lolita are patronized and condescend. When the textual data are being digitalized it gives the audience to have a retrospective abstruse on the characters chords. The adaptation and digitalization are the mode that helps the culture to get marinates with the lifestyle and takes the essence out of it so that one could feel more connected to it. It also helps the audience to be in trend and endorse the thought that accumulate at a point of time but which were forgotten at the space of work. So the adaptation of Sarat Chandra’s works helps the modern audience to engross itself in the ethnicity of the religion. The celebration of culture and the colours of tradition are vividly described in his artefacts. In Devdas, Sarat Chandra’s description of Chandramukhi is so lively that it makes the audience’s experiences groovy.

 

With the establishment of theatres in 1931, Sarat Chandra’s involvement towards politics became more prominent. As his novel’s central theme questions the patriarchal biases present in the relationships between the self and the society. Similarly the nation identity and culture is also debated from an evolutionary point of view. The novels of his not only confronts about the class based society where sex, morality, marriage, filial obedience and personal space are grown accustomed but also it preaches the idea of nationalist ideology. In Nishkriti it is correctly pointed out how the Indians are brain washed “If the seed of doubt are planted in the minds of the innocent, even the perpetrator cannot remain unaffected by the consequences. A person who is taught to doubt her enemies, also learns to suspects her friends.” (Nishkriti 51)

 

The novels of Sarat Chandra are gratified even today in form of cinema as because the essence of it never fades away and Indian audience from ages prefer performing arts rather than going through textual data. The adaptations are showcasing the traditional culture to that of culture in the present context but to show significance ancient. Sarat Chandra says in Devdas that “Thoughts comes in patterns. Those who have hope in their heart think in one way. And those who have no hope think in quite a different manner.” (Devdas  92)

 

One of the other major themes in Sarat Chandra’s work is the existence of life and reorganization of self. Women in Sarat Chandra’s work played a very effective role and are well defined. Some of the women characters are very powerful and conventional, characters like Paro in Devdas, Vijaya of Datta (1917-1919), Hemangini of Mejdidi (1967), Lalita in Parineeta and Kamala of Shesh Prashna (1929). The women speak their minds out and did not feared the society’s indignation. As Bengal witnessed the social movements for women like widow remarriage, partition in nation’s freedom, right to education and others also have a great influence in the literary texts. Some of Sarat Chandra’s work celebrates the pedigree of the fallen women as the central character who exclude the ill will and interference of the society’s view on them. The iconic example is the character of Chandramukhi in Devdas, who is a Baiji (courtesan) belonging to the downtrodden society of women. But the portrayal of Chandramukhi is ethereal and her tale of unrequited love for Devdas is uncanny. The women characters in Sarat Chandra’s work never bowed to the prejudices and societal injustices. And even if they do so it was always out of their own choice. Women being symbolized as emotion allow the reader to visualize complex and difficult subjects. So Sarat Chandra portraiture of women is always magnificent, highly aesthetic, ambiguous and ambitious.

 

So the adaptation and digitalization of the literary text has bridge the difference through mass awareness so that the subjugated class can equally be treated as that of a human like the others. So it gives the audience the chance to decide the ire of society as an offensive business or to accept it as it is the basic human physic nature. The portrayal of the strong characters helps audiences to determine its norm and a proper justification is needed to break it. These wonders are made possible due to the enrichment of popular culture and the acceptance towards it. The popular culture has made the man to think out of the box and to explore the new dimensions of the modern world. The mode creates a bridge between the culture and the people out there. The culture helps the people to learn and analyze its mistakes. The popular culture has given a platform for literature to expresses the ideas that which were earlier believed as taboos. The movies adapts the plot as that of the novel’s but the essence that is evokes during the watch is quite different to that of reading. These different perspectives help to explore the new conventions for critically examining Sarat Chandra’s works. Hence it can be said that the perspective never lies out of the text but inside of it. So it would be correct to say that the human values lies with the inner self and it is not in the isolation. Human values should inculcate all the necessary lessons that these great works teach us the religion and culture in the lost modernity.

 

And while understanding the concepts of Sarat Chandra’s works in terms of tradition, it gives the message that the deeds of a Human are indeed accountable. Good deeds lead to a better life while nasty deeds lead humans to succumb. A man must remain true to itself and pledge to serve the mankind with moral and influencing actions. This way, not only it sets a benchmark to the world but also serves itself as it is the one who is being loved and respected by all.

 

Earlier the literature by the patrons were unquestionable as they we holy but the ineffectiveness of the old social order evoked the minds of people to question about the pain and anguish, the sense of deprivation and yearning for a better social order. So in the modern days the terms and conditions of the people were meant by Sarat Chandra’s artifacts that single handedly deals with the social injustices and also defend the cultural heritage. His aim was to target the powerful and the strong who categorized themselves as the defenders of the society (higher class- Brahmins). The orthodox Hindu society was strongly opposed by his thoughts and his works. The Brahmos were vicious and supported the narrow minded prejudices and they blindly follow the superstitions which were followed in the Hindu society.

 

The examples of social prejudices and hierarchy are prevalent in Sarat Chandrs’s works. In the Third Part of Srikanta, where the construction of a railway tracks are described, showcases the impulsive resentment of Srikanta’s character and it is amplified, which later results in a sudden outburst. His observation on the wretched condition of the workers' with whom he had to spend a night in the slum reflects not just the humanist thinking, but it describes the social ladder that of a higher thought and culture. For example, seeing the Subhuman and his distressed condition of the workers, Srikanta says, "But, you, the bearers of modern civilization, you are dying, you die! Forgive not, in the least, this cruel civilization that has made your life such. If you are to carry it, carry it down speedily to the abysmal depth of its grave." (Srikanta)

 

Sarat Chandra had a tendency to surpass the ideologies of the bourgeois humanist opinion and some other aspects of communist thinking. The example is elaborately described in Pather Dabi where Sabyasachi says "There is nothing like realization of absolute or eternal truth in this ever-changing world. It comes into being and goes out of being. With passage of time, from one age to another, it undergoes changes and assumes newer and newer forms in conformity with the changing needs of human society. The truth of the past must be adhered to in the present -- such a belief is erroneous, such a notion superstitious." This very concept of truth and method of reasoning by Sarat Chandra reveal a great deal of influence of dialectical materialism, communist thoughts, ideas and reasoning of his attributes.

 

The ambiguity and the influence of religion and culture can be marked by Sabyasachi in Pather Dabi who remarks that "To me, truth or falsehood, good or bad, are determined only by the necessity of 'Pather Dabi'. This is the creed, the guiding principle of my life. This is my mode of existence, this is what I am, my candid realization. You speak of the ultimate truth, the eternal truth -- to you these meaningless, hollow words are inestimably valuable, but there is no greater a trick to befool the ignorants. I never lie, but I create truth at the dictate of necessity." (Pather Dabi 1996)

 

So the thought and literature is subjected to the examination and is to bring about a change in the rational framework and outlook of the people. The media, movies, theatrical plays are some of the modes of popular culture that one can link its own self, which will be helpful to understand and act against the old customs, prejudices and sense of morality of the old Hindu society. So All film adaptations based on the works of Sarat Chandra Chattopadhyay, which will enable us to picture the man's profound impact on popular culture over the past several decades. Therefore the textual data are being digitalized so are the literary text so the adaptation of literary artefacts is very ubiquitous. Sarat Chandra Chattopadhyay remains one of the most illustrious literati from the country. Best known for Devdas and Parineeta, the author needs to be given the respect for his mammoth impact on pop-culture, which dictated the kind of films which were made in India.

 

Bibliography

Banerjie, Indranil. Indian publishing industry goes gaga over Bengali novelist Sarat Chandra Chattopadhyay”, India Today, December 2, 2013.

Chakravarti, Aruna. “Introduction”. Srikanta,by Sarat Chandra Chattopadhyay, translated by Aruna Chakravarti. Penguin, 1993.

Chatterjee, Sarat Chandra. Nishkriti. Translated by Malobika Chaudhuri, Penguin Books, 2005.

---. Srikanta. Translated by Aruna Chakravarti. Classic Sarat Chandra, vol. 1. Penguin Books, 2011.

---. Devdas. Translated by Sreejata Guha. Penguin Books, 2002.

---. Pather Dabi. Ananda Publishers, Google Scholar, 1996.

Jindal. Dr. Madhu. Religious Influence on Indian Literature, JETIR, volume 2, issue 8, Aug. 2015.