Bibhutibhushan classic ‘Chander Pahar’ now as graphic novel
Renowned author Bibhutibhushan Bandopadhyay’s classic adventure book in Bengali ‘Chander Pahar’, which paints a vivid portrait of Africa, is now available in the graphic novel format
Titled ‘Moon Mountain’, the novel published by Penguin Books India, has its script written by Saurav Mohapatra with illustrations by Sayan Mukherjee.
Considered one of the greatest adventure novels in Bengali literature, ‘The Mountain of the Moon’ is a powerful tale of wanderlust and adventure and giving wings to one’s dreams.
It is the tale of Shankar Roy Chowdhury and his friend Diego Alvarez, a middle-aged Portuguese explorer, as they make their way through the rugged wilderness of pre-World War I Africa in 1909-1910 and encounter wild beasts, lost tribes, labyrinthine trails, raging volcanoes, and mythical monsters that seem all too real, while in search of the fabled diamond mines of Richtersveld, the mountain of the moon.
The graphic novel edition with beautiful and evocative illustrations is a treat for comic book enthusiasts. It brings Bandopadhyay’s vivid descriptions of the vast continent to life, while keeping the essence of the original story untouched.
Mohapatra says he “lived and breathed” the book for a while, marveling at the details that Bandopadhyay had infused into the narrative.
“I had the impression that the author must have travelled the length and breadth of Arica, and actually lived the tale he so wonderfully told,” the dialogue writer says.
“Bandopadhyay had never travelled to Africa. He collected the details about Africa – its history, geography and biology – from his extensive readings at the Calcutta Library. Imagine that, without Wikipedia, Google and such tools, he crafted a narrative so rich and true about a place he’d never been to, using just research diligence and a healthy dollop of imagination.
“He was one of us – a reader, a dreamer,” the California-based Mohapatra says.
A movie based on the book was also released last December.
Directed by Kamaleshwar Mukherjee, the film was shot on various locations across Africa like the Kruger National Park, Kalahari Desert and jungles of Mpumalanga and is reportedly one of the most expensive movies ever made in Bengali film industry.
Bandopadhyay wrote novels, short stories, travelogues, and detailed diaries, all in Bengali. His first novel, ‘Pather Panchali’, was recognized as a landmark in Bengali fiction, and was adapted into an award-winning film by Satyajit Ray.