The Last Flames – by Sudipta Bhawmik

Setting: New York City, 1948

Basanta Koomar Roy in The Last Flames

Basanta Koomar Roy in The Last Flames

Synopsis:

Basanta Koomar Roy, an expatriate journalist from India, has been credited by Tagore researchers as a key person (besides W. B Yeats and Ezra Pound) responsible for popularizing Rabindranath Tagore in USA. But Roy fell from his idol’s grace for reasons that torment many a biographer and journalist even today. “The Last Flames” attempts to re-examine the relationship between Roy and Tagore through a fictional encounter and gives us a peek at the human side of the great Poet’s personality.

Samar, a young trainee journalist, comes to interview Basanta Koomar Roy at his apartment in New York city, sometime in 1948. Basanta is excited to share his experience as an Indian nationalist freedom fighter in USA. But Samar tells him that he is interested in knowing about his experience with Rabindranath Tagore, since he was the first to write Tagore’s biography in English for the American people. Basanta refuses to talk about his Gurudev until Samar uses his ultimate weapon that opens the flood gates of memories and emotions of this old admirer of Tagore.

The following obituary of Basanta Koomar Roy was published in The New York Times on June 8, 1949:

Basanta Koomar Roy, Indian author and free-lance journalist, who had lived in this country for many years, died on Sunday in St. Luke’s Hospital after a brief illness. His home was at 116 West Eightieth Sreet. Born in Orissa Province, India, and a member of the Brahmin caste, Mr. Roy came to the United States around 1910 and studied at the University of Wisconsin, from which he was graduated and where he was later an extension lecturer. He was instrumental in arranging a lecture at the university in 1916 by the great Indian poet, the late Rabindranath Tagore. Mr. Roy was long a writer and speaker for Indian freedom and has been active in the Friends of Freedom for India. He was the author of a biography of Mr. Tagore and of “Dawn over India”, a book telling of the Indian underground movement against British rule.

The play has been staged in New York and New Jersey by ECTA inc. of NJ.

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