25 January, 2021

The Raconteur Of Life’s Little Tales

Calcutta fondly saw him as an eccentric character and ‘a bit of a vagabond’. Bibliophile, collector and man of letters, Radha Prasad Gupta was a polymath and more.

The Raconteur Of Life’s Little Tales

Many visitors to Calcutta who had more than a passing interest in the history and society of that great city would, if they were lucky enough, eventually land on the doorstep of R.P. Gupta’s flat in the southern suburb of Ballygunge. Gupta was many things: a bibliophile, a writer in both English and Bengali, a gastronome, a cineaste, a collector of paintings. Supremely, and in the traditions of his city, he was also a talker, with an exquisite, magpie gift for anecdotes and recherche facts and, eagle-like, for triumphant assertion. Nobody who spent an hour or so with him could not be better informed about Calcutta as a result, though his interests stretched far beyond the boundaries of Bengal and he could shame Europeans with his knowledge of neglected corners of their own cultures. The scholars, writers, photographers and film-makers who came to see him would come away almost tipsy with information, jokes and a generous glass or two of rum. Even in Calcutta, he was seen as a ‘character’ and slightly eccentric. At quite late stages of the day he would still be...



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