The Wizard Of Festival Lighting: The Incredible Story Of Sridhar Das – Samragngi Roy


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Eleven-year-old Sridhar was fascinated by light. Growing up among a dozen siblings in a mud cottage in Chandannagar in West Bengal, he longed to create something beautiful. A school drop-out who never studied beyond Class Eight, he taught himself about lights and electricity by doing odd jobs at an electrician’s shop—an act that earned him a severe beating from his father. In spite of his family’s opposition, he grew up to become a celebrated light artist and inventor, setting new standards for festival lighting and pioneering new techniques.

Sridhar Das’s work was exhibited internationally, to great acclaim, from the Festival of India in Russia to Ireland, Los Angeles and Malaysia. For the Thames Festival in London, he created the famous three-dimensional illuminated peacock boat.

This is his story, poignantly told by his granddaughter, Samragngi Roy. It takes us back to a vanished time, and introduces us to a man who pursued his dreams and created a new field through sheer determination.

But fame and hard work took a toll on Sridhar, and those closest to him. His wife had to combat illness and loneliness to take care of the family, leaving her husband free to forge his chosen path, and his daughter grew up with her famous father largely absent. This is also the story of his family, an unflinching exploration of the price that was paid for his meteoric rise. It is both a nuanced portrait of a complex man and an affectionate tribute to a beloved grandfather.


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