Kolkata: Good news for bibliophiles. International Kolkata Book Fair just got a permanent address. For the past few years, the book fair is being held at Salt Lake Central Park Mela Complex. At the inaugural ceremony of the 45th International Kolkata Book Fair, West Bengal chief minister Mamata Banerjee renamed the Central Park Mela Complex as Book Fair Ground (Boi Mela Prangan).
A melting pot of culture and literature, Kolkata book fair has faced a lot of issues in its journey of 45 years. From a fire incident in 1997 to protests from environmentalists, the beloved ‘boi mela’ to Bengalis across the world has come a long way. It has seen a change of venues from Maidan to Milan Mela Ground, Park Circus (in 2008) and finally to Salt Lake Central Park.
On Monday, Tridib Chatterjee, honorary general secretary of the Publishers and the Booksellers Guild, had requested the CM if the annual fair for the bookworms could be held at the Central Park Mela Ground and not shift to the Milan Mela Ground near Science City.
“Milan Mela complex will be ready by next March –April. The structure and ambience match international standards. But since, Guild wants the fair to remain in Salt Lake Central Park, so be it. Now onwards, it will be known as Boi Mela Prangan (Book Fair ground). All kinds of fairs can be held here but this ground is especially dedicated to book fair. This will keep the brand of Kolkata book fair alive and will also make it as a destination,” said the Bengal chief minister.
Mamata also said that due to Omicron threat, the Kolkata International Film Festival had to be postponed this year. However, the new dates will soon be announced. She also announced that Bengal will have its own music festival of international standard next year onwards.
“The only thing that was missing was an international music festival. We will start it from next year,” she said and recalled the music icons — Lata Mangeshkar, Sandhya Mukhopadhyay and Bapi Lahiri — who passed away recently.
From poetry to politics, readers can find a dozen new books of Mamata at the 45th International Kolkata Book Fair. In fact, a book titled ‘Khela Hobe’ is also out. In presence of renowned Bengali author Sanjib Chattopadhyay and Bangladeshi author Selina Hossain, the chief minister launched her dozen new books.
For those who are wondering how Mamata finds time to pen books in her busy schedule, she spills the beans. “I do the briefing when I am running on the treadmill. Indranil (read minister Indrani Sen) often tease me as ‘mobile music director’. He tells me that I compose music and write books on the mobile. Since 1995, my books have been releasing at the Kolkata book fair,” said Mamata. Till now, 113 books of the Bengal chief minister have been published.
KM Khalid MP, State Minister for Cultural Affairs, Bangladesh, is elated that Bangladesh is the theme country. This is the third time the neighbouring country has been the focal theme. But this year is special. “This is the 100th birth year of Father of the Nation Bangabandhu Sheikh Mujibur Rahman and 50th years’ of independence of Bangladesh,” he said.
For the first time, Kolkata book fair is being organized in a hybrid format. So, those who can’t visit the fair physically can enjoy the events through the website and social media pages. The bookworms can even buy their favourite books online.
With nearly 600 stalls and 200 Little Magazine publishers, 13-day fair for booklovers will be open till March 13 from 12 noon to 8 pm.