Title: Balli of Bagdih
Author: Nilotpal Dutta
Genre: Literary Fiction
First Publication: 2022
Book Summary: Balli of Bagdih by Nilotpal Dutta
Smart and confident Balli has a deep connection with Bagdih, a coal mine in a fairly remote part of Bihar where his father works and where his Nana had chosen to work after the partition of India. Bagdih, which nurtures everyone who comes to earn livelihood and still holds no grudge when they never return, has a special relationship with Balli, whom she finds so much like herself.
Growing up in a small colony, Balli builds his beautiful world with Samar and lovely Samaira, whom he loves and feels fiercely protective about. As he helplessly watches his world slowly disintegrate due to misunderstandings and unmet expectations, he only has his promise of joining the Indian Army made to Nana and affection of a much older Shambhu to keep him moving.
Balli leaves the place that gave him everything to pursue his goals only to return years later on a rescue mission. As he encounters several emotions on his return and goes through upheavals, he finds solace only in Bagdih’s serene lap.
Set in the later part of twentieth century, ‘Balli of Bagdih’ is a depiction of how the characteristics of a place can build the character of a person born and brought up there.
Book Review: Balli of Bagdih by Nilotpal Dutta
Balli of Bagdih is an atmospherically rich and compelling story from Nilotpal Dutta set in Bagdih, a coal mine in a distant region of Bihar. The story follows an intelligent and self-assured Balli, who has a strong connection to Bagdih since it is the place where both his father and Nana opted to settle and work after the partition of India. Balli spends his childhood in a tiny village with Samar and the beautiful Samaira, whom he loves passionately. It was only his commitment to Nana that he would serve in the Indian Army that kept him going as he blankly witnessed his world rapidly collapse as a result of conflicts and disappointments. Years after leaving the village that nurtured him, Balli returns on a rescue operation to his childhood hometown.
The beautiful and heartbreaking Balli of Bagdih details the sorrow, trauma, tragedy, sacrifice, and heartbreak that one man experiences as he pursues his life’s ambitions. This is a narrative about ordinary people who find themselves in unusual and awful situations; it’s about people who are uprooted from their homeland and have no option but to start over somewhere else in the world. In addition to that, there were parts of this novel that were really moving.
Nilotpal Dutta has done an excellent job of writing a narrative that is both captivating and thought-provoking. The book’s strengths lie in the depth with which the main character, Balli, a guy who has to make peace with his past in order to exist in the present, is portrayed and developed. The author paints a picture of a man whose life is falling apart around him as he comes closer to reality, but who is determined to hang on by a thread. The portrayal of Bagdih and its community is done remarkably well.
On one level, this provides a glimpse into the way of life in a small town. This is also a chronicle of just one life, that of our protagonist, Balli, and his experiences growing up, leaving, and then returning to the village where he spent his childhood. This is a book on family ties, friendship, and romance, and it explores both the positive and negative aspects of such connections. The book also discusses whether or not a person’s upbringing in a small town has more of an impact on their development and conduct.
In spite of its heaviness, I found comfort in this book because of the way it praised the perseverance of the human spirit and the bonds of family, friendship, and community in the face of overwhelming adversity. This book has the power to stir up a wide range of emotions and provoke deep reflection in its readers. I recommend this book to everyone who enjoys reading literary fiction as well as character-driven dramas.