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Anthony Firingee (Bengali: অ্যাণ্টোনি ফিরিংগী; Antōnī Phiringī; 1786–1836) Hensman Anthony, was a Bengali language folk poet of Portuguese origin known for his works in Bengali devotional songs in the early part of the 19th century. He was also noted for his performance in literary face-offs known as Kavigan.
Born Hensman Anthony, the sobriquet Firingee (The foreigner of European origin) was used colloquially as a reference to his Portuguese origins. Although not much is known of his early life, Anthony arrived in Bengal sometime in early 19th century and subsequently came to settle in Farashdanga, in the town of Chandernagore in West Bengal.
He married a Hindu Brahmin widow named Saudamini and was deeply influenced by Bengali culture and language, as well as the Hindu religion. Eventually, Anthony came to learn the language and composed a number of noted religious songs in devotion to the Goddesses Kali and Durga. He is noted for his Agamani Songs, celebrating the return of Goddess Durga to her parents home that marks the Bengali Autumn festival of Durga Puja. Anthony is also noted for his literary face-offs in Kavigans, or Bard's duels, with a number of noted Bengali composers including Bhola Moira, Ram Basu and Thakur Singha. Anthony also helped construct a temple to Goddess Kali in the Bowbazar locality of North Calcuttaknown as 'Firinghi Kalibari'.
A 1967 Bengali film by Director Sunil Bannerjee celebrated the life and works of Anthony, and had noted Bengali actor Uttam Kumar in the title role. The film was noted for its music, composed by Anil Bagchi & lyrics by Gouri Prasanna Majumdar among others and earned Uttam Kumar an Indian National Film Award for Best Actor in 1968. A 2014 adaptation by director Srijit Mukherji titled Jaatishwar featured the life of Anthony from a retrospective view but with a modern day context. Jaatishwar also received an Indian National Film Awards in 2014, in four categories, including Best singer and Best Music Director.
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