Who was Anthony Firingi?
Hensman Anthony, was a Bangla folk poet of Portuguese origin known for his works in Bengali songs in the early part of the 19th century. He was also noted for his performance in literary face-offs known as Kobi gaan and was called ANTONY KOBIYAL. Born Hensman Anthony, the sobriquet Firingee (The foreigner) was used colloquially in deference to his Portuguese origins. Although not much is known of his early life, Anthony arrived in Bengal sometime in early 19th century and subsequently came to settle in Farashdanga, in the town of Chandan Nagar in West Bengal.
He married a Hindu Brahmin widow named Saudamini and was deeply influenced by Bengali culture and language, as well as the Hindu religion. Eventually, Anthony came to learn the language and composed a number of noted religious songs in devotion to the Goddesses Kali and Durga. He is noted for his AGOMONI Songs, celebrating the return of Goddess Durga to her parents home that marks the Bengali Autumn festival of Durga Puja.
Anthony is also noted for his literary face-offs in Kobi Gaan, or Bard’s duels, with a number of noted Bengali composers including BHOLA MOIRAA, RAM BOSU and THAKUR SINGH.
Anthony also helped construct a temple to Goddess Kali in the Bowbazar locality of North Calcutta that today is famous as THE FIRINGI KALI BARI (The Foreigner’s Kali Temple).
ANTONY FIRINGI IN BENGALI FILMS: NOW & THEN.
Director SUNIL BANERJEE celebrated the life and works of Anthony Firingi with his Bengali cinema titled ANTONY FINRINGI, which starred MAHANAYAK UTTAM KUMAR in the title role and had Bollywood actress TANUJA (mother of KAJOL) played the female lead.
Famous actor ASHIT BARAN was characterized as BHOLA MOIRA whereas RUMA GUHA THAKURATA acted and sang as JAGGESWORI.
The film was noted for its music, composed by ANIL BAGCHI & lyrics by GOURI PRASNNA MAJUMDER and MANNA DEY lend his vocals for Antony Firingi. ” আমি যামিনী , তুমি শশী হে ” & ” আমি যে জলসাঘরে ” received immense mass response & undoubtedly was the greatest hit of 1967-68. Still now Bengali listeners drools over the tune of this song.
UTTAM KUMAR WON THE NATIONAL AWARD FOR “BEST ACTOR” IN A LEAD CHARACTER IN 1968 FOR HIS PERFORMANCE IN ‘ANTONY FIRINGI’
Director Srijit Mukherji is all set to try the ANTONY FIRINGI magic yet again on silver screen and this time PROSENJIT CHATTERJEE has been chosen to play the legendary musician. But as we all know, Srijit always gives a twist to the old tale like he did with his maiden film AUTOGRAPH.
Autograph was an official tribute SATYAJIT RAY’s classic “NAYOK” (coincidentally which also starred UTTAM KUMAR in the lead) and this time Srijit is again ready to pay his homage to Mahanayak with his new bengali cinema “JATISHSHOR ‘, to be released during November 2013. Like Autograph, this time also Srijit Mukherji developed an unique story line, which is a mix of urban and periodical episodes.
A middle aged urban gentleman gets back his past -life memory and realizes that he was none other but the famous ANTONY FIRINGI in his previous birth.
The plot seems quite a bit similar to that of Srijit’s AUTOGRAPH, which had SATYAJIT RAY’s “NAYOK ‘ subtly represented onscreen as a sub plot to the main story. Srijit follows similar style incase of JATISHSHOR as well, where ANTONY FIRINGI comes as a sub plot to an urban /modern storyline.
And PROSENJIT CHATTERJEE plays dual characters with SWASTIKA MUKHERJEE as his female lead.
JISSU SENGUPTA and RAHUL BANERJEE plays the second fiddles to Bumba da in this Srijit Mukherji film and famous Mumbai based Make –up artist Vikram Gaikoyad finalized the Antony Firingi look of Bumba da.
This time distinguished musician KABIR SUMAN has been entrusted with the responsibility of composing the music for JATISHSHOR, while noted music director INDRAADIP DASGUPTA will take care of the background music.
As gathered from reliable production sources, renowned vocalist SRIKANTO ACHARYA will lend his vocals for PROSENJIT in the film and the 1967 super hit song ” আমি যামিনী , তুমি শশী হে ” (AAMI JAMEENI, TUMI SOSHI HEY) will also be recreated by Kabir Suman.
Apart from Srikanto Acharya, Jatishshor will also have the voices of MONOMOY BHATTACHARYA, famous actor cum singer KHARAJ MUKHERJEE (who also plays the character of BHOLA MOIRA in Srijit’s film).
SHROMONA GUHA THAKURATA (daughter of RUMA GUHA THAKURATA) now succeeds her mother in the vocals of JAGGESWORI whereas ace actress ANANYA CHATTERJEE plays the character onscreen.
And as written in my last article, JATISHSHOR also will mark the debut of noted stage/film director/actor SUMAN MUKHOPADHYAY as a playback singer.
Now lets wait and watch whether JATISHSHOR fetches NATIONAL AWARD for PROSENJIT CHATTERJEE , which he has been eyeing since long & missed it by whiskers two times for DOSAR and MONER MANUSH. Hope, Bumba da gets lucky third time and ANTONY FIRINGI continues his good luck charm in the arena of National Award.
Article by: Sanjib Banerji
Image Credits: Google Images, Prosenjit’s Exclusive Stills From Srijit Mukherji Fans Club *Official In Facebook.