Kolkata: It’s coming a full circle albeit with a difference! Famed Bengali author Mani Sankar Mukherjee (86), better known by his pen name, Shankar, who started his career as a clerk to the last British barrister of the Calcutta High Court, Noel Frederick Barwell, will now take up the reins as the new Sheriff of Kolkata, a coveted post under Calcutta High Court and appointed by the Governor of Bengal.
This is one of the oldest positions in the country since the eighteenth century – in 1775 James MacRabey was appointed the Sheriff of Calcutta when Sir Elijah Impey took over as the Chief Justice of Supreme Court in Calcutta.
Sankar’s first book around the Law Court began shortly after Barwell’s demise in 1953 following a heart attack in Madras while arguing a case in the then Madras. ‘Kata Ajanarey’ by Sankar has, over the years, emerged as a classic in Bengali literature.
Sankar’s father, who hailed from Bongaon and moved to Kolkata (then Calcutta) and eventually to Howrah in 1937, was also a lawyer. Some of Sankar’s well-known creations include ‘Chowringhee’, ‘Jana Aranya’, ‘Company Limited’, ‘Thackeray Mansion’ and ‘The Monk as Man’, ‘The Unknown Life of Swami Vivekananda’. His best known novel 'Chowringhee' continues to attract readers even after more than 50 years of its publication. Two of his novels, 'Seemabaddha' (Company Limited) and 'Jana Aranya' (The Middleman), were turned into films by none other than Satyajit Ray. He was awarded an honarary doctorate of letters by the University of North Bengal. Even at 86, the effervescent novelist is keen on taking up the new role out of his ever elastic appetite for new stories and plots, more than anything else, he himself says.