File Photo - Sandipan Chatterjee
Eminent Litterateur Sunil Gangopadhyay Dead

Eminent litterateur and Sahitya Akademi President Sunil Gangopadhyay, who authored over 200 books and excelled in different genres, died today following a massive heart attack.

He was 78. The Bengali writer is survived by wife and son.

Gangopadhyay's body will be kept in a mortuary till his son arrives from Boston for performing the last rites, his family said.

Winner of the Sahitya Akademi Award in 1985 for his historical novel 'Sei Samoy' (At That Time), Gangopadhyay's best-selling works include 'Pratham Alo' and 'Purbo-Paschim', a depiction of Partition and its aftermath seen through the eyes of three generations of Bengalis in West Bengal, Bangladesh and elsewhere.

He also received the 'Ananda Puraskar' twice, the 'Bankim Puraskar' and Hindu Literary Prize.

Condoling his death, President Pranab Mukherjee said "Gangopadhyay enriched Bengali literature through his unique style. He was the greatest among his peers. A bright star has fallen. The vacuum created by his death cannot be filled."

Eminent writers, including Shirshendu Mukhopadhyay, Samaresh Majumdar, Nirendranath Chakrabarty and Abul Bashar mourned his death.

Using the pen-names of Nil Lohit, Sanatan Pathak and Nil Upadhyay, Gangopadhyay was the author of over 200 books and excelled in different genres, but declared poetry to be his first love.

His well-known poems include Kavita Sangraha, Shada Pristha Tomar Sangay and Amar Swapna. His Neera series of poems were also popular.

Gangopadhyay was the founder editor of Krittibas, a seminal poetry magazine that became a platform for a new generation of poets experimenting with many new forms.

His novels like Aranyer Din Ratri, Pratidhwani and Arjun were made into films by maestro Satyajit Ray and Abar Aranya' by Gautam Ghosh. His other work of prose include the adventurous character for young adults Kakababu.

Born in Faridpur (Bangaldesh) on September 7, 1934, Gangopadhyay was also known for short stories like Shreshtha Galpo and Maha Prithibi.

Gangopadhyay also wrote and staged several plays like Praner Prahari and Raja Rani.

He had written the script for Hindi film Sodh which was based on his story Gorom Bhat O Nichhok Bhooter Goppo.

He was elected the President of the Sahitya Akademi on February 20, 2008.He was sheriff of Kolkata in 2002.

Condoling his death, writer Shirshendu Mukhopadhyay said, "It will be extremely difficult to fill the vacuum in Bengali literature after his death since Sunil had heralded a new style in Bengali literature."

Another writer Samaresh Majumdar said, "Bengali literature has lost its guardian."

Recalling his long association with Gangopadhyay, veteran poet Nirendranath Chakrabarty said though he was senior to him by ten years, he had a high respect for his style of writing.

"I saw a sapling when Sunil started writing and keenly observed how it grew into a big tree with thousands of branches," Chakrabarty said.

Abul Bashar said Gangopadhyay was inimitable in all respects. "We had entered the world of poetry with his guidance".

Goutam Ghosh, acclaimed film maker who directed Moner Manush, a biopic written by Gangopadhyay on the 19th century Balladeer Lalan Fakir, said from Santiniketan, "He was a person of modern Bengali composite intellectualism."

Describing Gangopadhyay a very secular in belief and an atheist, he said, "The best example to prove this was his numerous works as was the recent one on Lalan's life. When I told him that I want to make a film on Lalan, he readily agreed. I regret that I could not show him my next film Shunyo Anka, because he wanted to see it."

Another leading poet and lyricist of modern Bengali films, Srijato, said, "The news of Sunil da's death is so painful for me. It seems that I lost my father a second time.

"He was a big pillar of support for all young poets like me. I used to visit Sunil Da whenever I visited him for any help. The doors of his house was always open to young poets like us. He would feel charged up in our company," he said.

Bangladeshi poet Belal Chowdhury, a personal friend of Gangopadhyay, said Sunil was a feather not only of the Bengali literature but also of the world fictions.

"It's a pride for us that Sunil, born in Bangladesh was the head of Literature Academy, the highest literature body of India," he said.

Another Bangladeshi poet Nirmelendu Gun said, "no one like Sunil created so many pieces of writings after Rabindranath Tagore".

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