In today’s Buzzfeedofied world, everybody loves a list – you have top 10 this top 10 that. Just give it a few years and ISIS will come up with its top ten beheadings (if that’s already not out there). That’s the kind of world we live in.
People claim to come up with definite rankings; though the truth is that the lists are usually completely subjective and based on whatever matrix the author fancies at the moment.
So since its all based on personal opinions anyway, here’s my list.
A list of the top ten Bongs (that’s Bengali people, not vehicle for marijuana – although often indistinguishable)
And my matrix – simple popularity. No value judgment, no impact on society or life or any such things. The only condition is that they have to be popular and have to stand the test of time, that is, popular for a lot of years, not a seasonal flash in the pan. And that’s why Loknath Baba is disqualified.
I am not judging their accomplishments, their views, their politics, just their popularity.
If we look at Bongs who have had the greatest impact on society as we know it, it would probably be Pandit Ishwarchandra Vidyasagar and Raja Rammohan Roy – people who abolished sati and introduced widow remarriage as well as women’s education.
But they weren’t popular; candidates for being the greatest Bong of all time sure, most popular no.
For the same reason, our brilliant scientists Jagadish Chandra Basu, Meghnad Saha, Prafulla Chandra Roy, Satyendra Nath Bose and Upendra Nath Brahmachary cannot be concerned.
I cannot even take Shyama Prasad Mukherjee, the greatest Bong of all time – and believe me as a Hindu Nationalist and RSS supporter that rankles.
Another point – am ignoring anyone who has become popular over the last few years. Nothing against them, its just the test of time matrix. If they remain popular in 15, 20 years time, they can come on the list.
Then I faced another problem, what if there is no standout figure in a particular field?
For example singing – can anyone really say who is more popular – Kishore Kumar or Manna De or Hemanta Mukhopadhyay?
When it comes to writing – who is more popular among Sarat Chandra Chattopadhyay, Bibhutibhushan Bandyopadhyay, Bankim Chandra Chattopadhyay, Sunil Gangopadhyay, Saradindu Bandyopadhyay or Shirshendu Mukhopadhyay to name a few?
And then there’s the gamut of freedom fighter, Bongs who gave their lives for India. Famous, yes venerated yes, loved yes….but when they were alive, they weren’t popular.
So here goes
10. Kazi Nazrul Islam – A truly secular songwriter adored by the ordinary members of both religions and hated by the fundamentalists of both. His torture at the hands of Nehru and the British made him more popular and loved by the Bongs.
9. Subhas Chakraborty and Jyoti Basu – You can ask why two people. Its basically because without one, the other would not have survived. Mr. Chakraborty was the most popular member of the triad that ruled Bengal for 3 decades. Anil Biswas was the Machiavelli while Jyoti Basu was the face. It was Mr. Chakraborty who had the support of the masses. He was the one who could get hundreds of thousands of people within minutes with just a call. Mr. Basu’s popularity, on the other hand, was Hitleresque, Stalinesqe etc. His wish was everybody’s command. He ruled with an iron fist and was strangely adored for it.
8. Satyajit Ray – The Da Vinci of Bongs. A writer, a composer, a painter, a poet, a director of movies, a versatile genius adored by everybody for his movies but more for his immortal threesome – Feluda, Topse and Jatayu. His Joy Baba Felunath remains the best Bong movie of all time.
7. Uttam-Suchitra – One again, you can’t have one without the other. They were the immortal lead pair of countless movies, each a hit, not only when they released, but even today. Theirs Laila Majnu, Samson Delilah, Romeo Juliet. For Bongs, its Uttam-Suchitra.
6. Ramakrishna (and Vivekananda) – Ramakrishna was – to be honest – a wacko, a religious nutter but a non-violent one. With his eccentric love for Goddess Kali, he captured the imagination and love of Bongs everywhere. He remains, even today, the most popular of all religious/philosophical figures. Vivekananda was Ramakrishna’s protege. He brought Bong Hindus to the world. He gave the Bong Hindus dignity. He established the world famous and immensely popular Ramkrishna Mission. His popularity grows every year.
5. Rabindranath Tagore – Do I really need to say anything about him?
4. Didi – The opposition has, over the years, tried everything – including an attempt to murder. Her popularity has just grown from strength to strength. If we look at world history, we will see that wherever the Commies have been in power for more than a decade, it has taken bloody revolutions and civil wars to get rid of them. The Commies ruled Bongland for more than 3 decades and then got decimated, not from any revolution, but simply because of Mamata Banerjee’s popularity. She is literally the “last man standing”. Even during the Commie heyday, when the Commie cadres ruled everything, she was the only one who stood up to them. To bring allegory – think about that Chinese guy standing in front of the tanks in Tiannamen Square, that was Mamata Banerjee and the Commies. The “intellectual” Bongs mostly hate her, they call her crazy, uneducated and umpteen other names; the common people just adore her.
3. Dada – nuff said
2. Netaji Subhash Chandra Bose (ironic as he is Oriya by birthplace) – The Marathis have Shivaji, The Gujratis have Sardar Patel, Mewaris/Marwaris (am always confused between the two) have Rana Pratap, we have Netaji.
He not only stood up to the British but to the dictatorship and asskissing at the Indian Antinational Congress. Though born in a middle class family, the life he lived is the stuff of legends. In the heart of every Bong there lives a little Netaji.
1. The Great Indian Chunkubaaz – Billions of boudis worldwide dream of him for every single second of their lives. He is not only the most popular Bong of all time, he is simply the most popular man of all time.