People Who Meet People is an amazing anthology of uncommon interviews of the finest spread and variety. Each of these interviews is a specimen of meaningful dialogue that makes for compulsive reading.
Here the interviewer expertly induces his subjects, both national and international, to launch into freewheeling conversation with unusual depth and perception. His empathetic and probing questions have sparked these occupants of the artistic firmament to intimately and animatedly talk about that part of their lives which usually remains under the lid.
All of these tete-a-tetes carry befitting codas, most of which are interesting observations on the interviews made by discerning readers.
None of the pieces was sent by the interviewer to his subjects for vetting. He took it entirely upon himself to execute this thought-provoking undertaking (forty-nine personalities from the world of writing, music, cinema, dance and painting are showcased here)—a marvellous achievement in the canon of interview as an art form.
Swapan Banerjee gives equal prominence in this volume to some obscure yet highly deserving people who have never before been brought to the limelight. Spontaneous, no-holds-barred conversations with the greats and the to-be-greats make this book an armchair favourite.
Swapn K. Banerjee is a freelance writer specialising in literary features. Listed twice in the Dictionary of International Biography (A Biographical Record of Contemporary Achievement). Cambridge, England , he realized his calling as a writer when Padma Shri Ruskin Bond sent his interviews, among other write-ups, to Boston University’s Special Collection Library. Since then, true to his calling, Banerjee has interviewed have been published in major dailies.
Swapan K. Banerjee is well-known internationally for his best-selling book Rusty & 1: Up-close with Ruskin Bond (Rupa). The book has found a home in the World Congress Library, Singapore National Library and Delhi Parliament others. Banerjee holds a Diploma in Creative Writing in English, Post-Graduate Diploma in journalism Diploma in French and a PhD. In English Literaure.
Swapan K. Banerjee is employed in State Bank of India, Kolkata Module. Bengal Circle.
Tonight as the kill moon rises and a Did-you-do-it cries at my window. I think of the poet Basho some hundreds of years ago hobbling halfway across Japan just to watch such a moonrise over a certain peak. Basho slept rough, woke, and stumbled on, looking at the world as he went, a servant to carry his luggage. The night of the Rill moon he found an overcast sky.
I think also of Swapan K. Banerjee resting his sore feet on ilk. banks of the Hooghly after one of his journeys across the country in search of an elusive beauty I know he has just finished one because he called in a short while before he caught the Doon Express back to Howrah. Years ago, and again a year or two later, he made such a journey to meet me. Each time he leaves I marvel at the spirit of the man.
Consider for a moment, in this age of expense accounts and plum assignments, a single day in Swapan's journey His train arrives in the valley at eight in the morning after the long haul from Kolkata. He makes his phone calls and catches a bus up the hill to meet Ruskin Bond. He must be back in time to have tea with Nayantara Sahgal. As always he is careful to arrive before time. (He once waited, he confessed, in the scorching sun outside my gate.)
Today his reward is to be drenched in a thundershower. The interview over, his clothes drying on him, lie travels clear across town to ask me to write a Foreword. He has just time for dinner before he climbs back on the Howrah Express. He has to be back at work the next day. No newspaper has paid his fare, no publisher promised to publish his interviews. Think only of the time spent in a queue at the railway booking office! And yet he has done this cheerfully not once, not twice, but a dozen times—and that is just to this valley. In the last few years Swapan has spread his net over the whole country.
If ever you know of a species of wandering bird in want of a name, remember this peregrine Banerjee. Remember these pages where you first heard it cry.
Swapan K. Banerjee is the ideal interviewer. He keeps a low profile, is most reticent about himself, is gentle and sympathetic in his approach, and is fully aware that most writers and other artistes have large egos and are only too ready to talk about themselves to someone who won't interrupt!
Swapan K. Banerjee is the perfect listener. And he knows how to draw you out. He does not provoke. He does not offend. He is not out to write a sensational story. Slowly and sympathetically he gains your confidence, and as a result you find yourself saying far more than you had intended.
A 'literary traveller' is perhaps how I would describe Mr Banerijee. He travels widely and seeks out men of letters or musicians or others who have made a mark in their field.
He is a Boswell of sorts—a Boswell not just to one writer, such as a Dr Johnson, but to many writers. He hunts them down with a single-minded determination, charm, and 'gentle persuasion'. He breaks down their resistance and in the process he brings out their outlook on life and literature, their way of life, working methods, likes, dislikes and fallibilities.
This book doesn't really need an introduction. It is in itself an introduction to each of his subjects. Suffice to say that Indian writing needs more Boswells of the Swapan K. Banerjee kind.
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