A riveting hour-long session with Kishalay Bhattacharjee – journalist, professor, author, documentary film maker and social activist – was barely enough to get a feel of his illustrious life. It was obvious the 53rd session of An Author’s Afternoon on 24 February 2018, presented by Shree Cement, took more than its usual allotted time.
A storyteller par excellence, Kishalay weaved with words a world of vivid imagery as he shared some of his life’s experiences as a conflict zone reporter. Conversationalist Sarita Dasgupta aptly raised some provoking questions to invoke the storyteller in him and set the drift of the session.
“Conflict is an extremely sexy category of news,” said Kishalay, who was the resident editor of NDTV northeast for good many years.
Many untold stories he broke as a reporter that could not be aired found expression in his literary exertions. The result was Che in Paona Bazaar his debut publication in 2013. One discovers dysfunctional attitude of countrymen from his writings. His next book Blood on My Hands was based on the interview of a sole witness created a furore in Jammu and Kashmir.
The author recited few lines by poet Robin Singh Ngangom as the discussion veered towards his third book An Unfinished Revolution. It is none other than documentation of one hostage crisis, adivasi insurgence, naxal movement. It is very apparent that Kishalay Bhattacharjee had some near to death experiences.
The recipient of Ramnath Goenka Award made the audience realise the fine line between news and truth. He said “….facts I reported in good faith were actually not true….” and “….every encounter I covered were only murders…… Army officials killed suspected persons or people without identity to secure their gallantry award,” he informed. “Charu Majumdar and Kanu Sanyal had no ideology,” he revealed.
The session, initiated by Prabha Khaitan Foundation in association with t2, Taj Bengal and Siyahi, was an eye-opener to the grim realities of life for many of us who see the world from the comfort of our homes.