Chander Pahar

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Chander Pahar
Cover page of "Chander Pahar", a novel by Bibhutibhusan Banerjee.jpg
Original 1937 book cover
AuthorBibhutibhushan Bandopadhyay
TranslatorSantanu Sinha Chaudhuri
IllustratorShyamalkrishna Bose
Cover artistSatyajit Ray
CountryIndia
LanguageBengali
GenreAdventure novel
PublisherSignet Press (Original Bengali version), Katha (English translation)
Publication date1937[1]
Published in English1 July 2002
Media typePrint (Hardback & Paperback)
Pages175 pp (Eng. trans. edition)
ISBNNA & (Eng. trans. ISBN 81-87649-30-5)
 
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Chander Pahar
Cover page of "Chander Pahar", a novel by Bibhutibhusan Banerjee.jpg
Original 1937 book cover
AuthorBibhutibhushan Bandopadhyay
TranslatorSantanu Sinha Chaudhuri
IllustratorShyamalkrishna Bose
Cover artistSatyajit Ray
CountryIndia
LanguageBengali
GenreAdventure novel
PublisherSignet Press (Original Bengali version), Katha (English translation)
Publication date1937[1]
Published in English1 July 2002
Media typePrint (Hardback & Paperback)
Pages175 pp (Eng. trans. edition)
ISBNNA & (Eng. trans. ISBN 81-87649-30-5)

Chander Pahar (English title: Mountain of the Moon) is a Bengali novel written by Bibhutibhushan Bandopadhyay[2] in 1937. Chronicling the adventures of a Bengali boy in the forests of Africa, it is considered to be one of the most important adventure novels written in the Bengali language.

Plot summary[edit]

The novel tells the story of an ordinary young Bengali boy, Shankar,from a nondescript village of Bengal, and his adventures in Africa in the years 1909-1910. Shankar Roy Chowdhury, the protagonist, is a 20-year-old youth, recently graduated from college and due to financial difficulties in the family, was about to take up a job in a jute mill of Shyamnagar, a prospect he absolutely loathes.

Since childhood geography has been his pet subject ;he has wanted to follow the footsteps of renowned explorers like Livingstone, Mungo Park, and Marco Polo, all of whom he has read about. He yearns for adventure, wild lands, forests and animals and the continent of Africa. By a stroke of luck, he secures a job as a clerk in Uganda Railway through an acquaintance already holding a post there and joyously rushes to Africa without a second thought.

There, he spends a few months as a part of a company laying rail tracks but soon encounters the first of many dangers of Pre-World War I Africa—man-eating lions who claim the lives of a few of his new-found friends in Africa. Later he takes up a job as station master in a desolate station amidst the Veldts. Here his presence of mind enables him to have a narrow escape from another hazard in Africa: the deadly black mamba. While at this post, Shankar one day encounters,rescues and nurses Diego Alvarez, a middle-aged Portuguese explorer and gold/diamond prospector. Alvarez's arrival becomes a turning point in Shankar's life. While recuperating, Alvarez narrated his earlier exploits in Africa with his friend Jim Carter. Lured by a priceless ,uncut yellow diamond gifted by the Chief of a Kaafi village, Alvarez and Carter had resolved to find the cave of these yellow diamonds, located on the Mountain of the Moon- Chander Pahar- in the Richtersveldt, which was believed to be guarded by the mythical monster ,the Bunyip.The explorers set off, much against the villagers' advice, braved the dense jungle and hostile environment but met with diaster- for Carter was gruesomely killed, supposedly by the Bunyip.

Shankar, highly inspired by Alvarez's exploits,resigns from his job and accompanies Alvarez as they decide to venture out once more and find the mines . They meet with innumerable hardships, a raging volcano being the greatest challenge.But the volcano was unknown to the world outside ,thus making Shankar and Alvarez its first discoverers. Eventually, they get lost in the forests where Alvarez suffers death at the hands of a mysterious monster, the same that had taken Carter’s life, the Bunyip.

A grieved and demoralised Shankar sets out to attempt to reach civilization. He finds the Bunyip's cave and the diamond mines by accident. He enters the cave but eventually gets lost. With great difficulty, he gets out, marking his way with "pebbles" and taking some back with him as memento, not knowing each is a piece of uncut diamond. He finds the remains of the Italian explorer, Attilio Gatti, and learns that the cave he found earlier really was the diamond mine. Gatti, as Shankar learns from a note by him, had uncut diamonds in his boots. The note said that whoever reads the note can take the diamonds as long as he buries his skeleton, with Christian rites. Shankar does so, and keeps the old diamonds. He becomes lost in the deserts of Kalahari and nearly dies of thirst. Fortunately he is rescued by a survey team, and taken to a hospital in Salisbury, Rhodesia, from where he sets sail for home. Before going back he wrote his account in a newspaper which earned him quite some money. In that he named the volcano after Alvarez. He ends the book saying that he will return to that cave one day with a large team, and continue the legacy of Alvarez, Carter and Gatti.

Characters in "Mountain of the Moon"[edit]

It is worthwhile mentioning here that Bibhutibhushan never traveled outside of India . His detailed and realistic portrayal of African grasslands and jungles is totally based on travel-magazines and guide books about Africa that he had read. In the light of this fact, his mastery over prose and description of nature assumes greatness of a higher level.

Movie adaptation[edit]

A film based on the novel, directed by Kamaleshwar Mukherjee has been released in December 2013.[3] The film, highly acclaimed and praised by many critics, is produced by Shree Venkatesh Films and has been shot on various locations across Africa. The film is reportedly being made with a budget of nearly INR15 crore (US$2.4 million), thus making it one of the most expensive movies ever made in Bengali film industry.

The film will reportedly incorporate CGI and visual effects at par with Hollywood and Bollywood standards.Dev (Deepak Adhikary, a popular actor in the Bengali film industry) plays the role of the main protagonist, Shankar.[4] Most of the other cast members are from South Africa. Actor Gérard Rudolf plays the role of Diego Alvarez.

The shooting locations include Kruger National Park, the mountains of Drakensberg and the deserts of Kalahari.[5]

References[edit]

  1. ^ http://banglapedia.org/HT/B_0104.htm
  2. ^ Sunīlakumāra Caṭṭopādhyāẏa (1 January 1994). Bibhutibhushan Bandopadhyaya. Sahitya Akademi. pp. 17–. ISBN 978-81-7201-578-7. Retrieved 5 July 2012. 
  3. ^ "Film on Chander Pahar - Times Of India". Articles.timesofindia.indiatimes.com. 2012-11-21. Retrieved 2013-11-22. 
  4. ^ "Kamaleshwar Mukherjee's Trip To South Africa For Chander Pahar, Starring Dev". The Telegraph (Calcutta, India). 9 January 2013. 
  5. ^ "Kamaleswar's African safari". The Times Of India.