Veteran Filmmaker Deb Mukherji: 'Durga Puja Has Been Celebrated In My Family For Almost 76 Years Now'

Veteran Filmmaker Deb Mukherji: 'Durga Puja Has Been Celebrated In My Family For Almost 76 Years Now'

He walks us through Durga Puja celebration, carrying forward his family’s legacy, and more

Manasi Y MastakarUpdated: Monday, October 23, 2023, 01:06 PM IST
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Mumbai is not just a City of Dreams, it is also a melting pot of different cultures, races, ethnicities, castes, and creeds. The city comes alive during three of the most vibrant festivals — Ganeshotsav, Navratri,
and Durga Puja. People vibing to the beats of dhol and tasha during Ganeshotsav, swaying to the mesmerising dandiya and garba songs, or getting lost in the moment while doing the dhunuchi naach during Durga Puja is an emotion to be felt.

With the ongoing festive season, there’s plenty to be experienced in the city. Celebrated with pomp and grandeur, the various Durga Puja pandals and the Goddess’ protimas (idols) are a sight to behold.

One such Durga Puja pandal in the city is the North Bombay Sarbojanin Durga Puja Samiti, which celebrates 76 years of inception this year. Walking us down memory lane is Deb Mukherji. Talking about carrying forward his family’s legacy of Durga Puja, the veteran filmmaker said, “Durga Puja has been celebrated in my family for almost 76 years now. We have tried to retain the essence of the puja and haven’t made any changes. For us, Durga Puja is a service of the Goddess and the people. Whoever comes to visit our pandal doesn’t go disappointed; everyone gets a chance to seek blessings of the Goddess.”

North Bombay Sarbojanin Durga Puja Samiti was established in 1948. The founder members were Shri Sasadhar Mukerji, Ashok Kumar, Kishore Kumar, Bimal Roy, Hemant Kumar, S D Burman, Joy Mukerji, Pradeep Kumar, Ram Mukerji and many other celebrities. The Puja was started with Maa Durga’s blessing and it is still going strong because of the hard work
of Supratim Sarkar, Navnit Narayan, Sanjoy Mukerji, Prasun Sikdar Shivdutt, Souvik, Samrat Mukerji.

For Deb, son of Sasadhar Mukherji, Durga Puja is also a time for family bonding. “Everyone comes together for Durga Puja. My children, grandchildren, my nieces and nephews and their children; friends, relatives, acquaintances…It’s a happy occasion when all Bengalis and non-Bengalis get together.”

The grandeur of the festival is enough to get everyone in a Durga Puja mood. The USP of the celebration lies in every facet of their hospitality. From the best entertainment programmes featuring renowned celebrities performing at the pandal to an authentic bhog experience.
The highlight of this year’s festivities is the awe-inspiring 20-foot high protima of Goddess Durga, with an intricately crafted mukut. The theme of ‘Thai Temples’ for this year’s Durga Puja has been masterfully curated, drawing inspiration from the rich and ornate designs found in the temples of Thailand. The Art Director, Kiran, has incorporated Thai
aesthetics into the pandal, ensuring a captivating ambience for visitors.

Over the years, inflation has gone up. So, how does North Bombay Sarbojanin Durga Puja Samiti tackle the price rise impact? “With the blessing of Goddess Durga, we have several selfless sponsors and donors pitching in funds. The rest, we manage. Naturally, over the decades things have changed in terms of finances. People like Ashok Kumar, Sukumar, at that time, had put in a few hundred rupees, which were equal to lakhs at that time. But, now that’s not enough,” he adds.

Say Durga Puja and inadvertently your mind thinks Kolkata. Has Deb managed to visit Kolkata during this time of the year? “Yes, ages ago, during a shooting of a film. However, I feel, nothing beats our Durga Puja in Mumbai. Of course, I am not criticising or comparing, that’s just how I feel,” he says. “What happens in Kolkata is you go pandal hopping, without really enjoying it. You see the protima of Durga, decoration, and move one, there are no programmes or functions to make you stay back. Here, in our pandal, we ensure every devotee has a good time. There are numerous activities, singing programmes, pushpanjali, bhog, etc. Every
family member, members of the Samiti, their children and friends, everyone works round the clock for Durga Puja. Every person is in the pandal, putting in effort to make the experience a special one.”

At the pandal, everyone from the family participates in serving bhog to the devotees who visit the pandal. That’s one tradition that has been passed on from generation to generation. “And, I expect in my absence, my son, Ayan Mukerji, to carry forward the legacy of Durga Puja,” Deb signs off.

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