Bengalis are the most interesting lot of people in the world. Period. And this story seals the deal once and for all!
Why? Well, let’s take it this way.
What do you imagine when I ask you to picture a Bengali who conducts scientific experiments researching on Atomic Clocks? Thick glasses/ geeky / socially awkward / introvert? (Don’t worry, no judgement call here)
And what comes to your mind when you think about the creator of quirky doodles depicting every day Bengali life that are downright hilarious and taking the city by storm? Cool-Vaping-Hipster? Possibly hanging out with a barrage of friends?
The point is- What if we tell you now that the two personalities mentioned above make up the same guy? Well, yeah you read that right.
Here’s the story of Arpan Roy, the creator of your favourite doodle-based page ‘The Bong Sense’ and his journey of life!
We caught up with the genius. Here’s how it went down!
How would you describe ‘The Bong Sense’ to an average Bengali guy/girl?
Remember the guy from your school who used to make the entire class laugh with his jokes. Well, that guy grew up, learnt to draw and made a page; making observations from everyday Bengali life, not forgetting angry moms, hawai chappal beatings and mutton rolls. That page my friends is “The Bong Sense”.
How old is the ‘The Bong Sense’? When did you begin with it?
Since ‘The Bong Sense’ was started on the 6th of June (I remember the day because I ate a biryani for lunch), the page would be somewhere between 4 to 5 months old.
I frequently call him Failureda (a twist on the name Feluda) because frequently I am reminded in real life that I am not successful in life according to the “moddhobitto” concept of happiness and prosperity
What was the whole idea behind forming ‘The Bong Sense’? When you began, did you anticipate it would become this big?
Although the presence of pages like Scoopwhoop and Storypick caused quite an impact among Indian readers, I felt, the pages lacked concentration on a particular community or culture and would hover only on the surface.
I always had a wish of making a page about the things I knew well i.e Bengali life. To be true, I did not expect it to become so big.
I always used to write about Bengali life on Quora, I think I am still the most popular writer about Bengali life on Quora even now and I have seen the impact humor and doodles have in attracting audiences and that is why I made tasty little witty nuggets of doodles for my page.
Are all the creatives and illustrations made by you? How do you take out time to manage the page every day?
Absolutely. I work close to 12 hours on an average day balancing my regular work and coming up with ideas for the page.
I spend my lunch time drawing them out on my Samsung Note 5 phone and adding the titles and dialogs. I think 100% of the stuff on the page is created by me. I am not a big fan of sharing random content from different pages as they hurt the consistency and the particular look I am trying to aim for.
Tell us about the character we see on your illustrations
Well there is mostly the regular Bengali dude you see which is probably based on me and my misadventures.
I frequently call him Failureda (a twist on the name Feluda) because frequently I am reminded in real life that I am not successful in life according to the “moddhobitto” concept of happiness and prosperity. Then there is the angry mother who is usually scolding me or is disappointed with me. Occasionally there is the female character my character stares at hopefully or makes a fool of himself.
Then finally there is Bengali Batman who wants to save the city but every day Bengali factors like his mother, ghamachi and normal “moddhobitto” life is getting into his path of higher pursuits.
Tell us a bit about yourself, what line of work are you into?How do you come up with such relatable content so regularly?
I was born and brought up in South Calcutta in a typical Bengali middle class family. Everything you see on the page has happened to me or someone I know. The content is basically my entire childhood, teenage and adulthood years. There is no end of relatable content, because if it had happened to me, it would probably have happened to you as well.
I went to Don Bosco School, a school with an excess stress on discipline, which certainly did not agree with my hyperactive and talkative nature. Hence, I spent most of my school outside the classroom and let my active imagination take control.
Hence I usually might end up about writing about the most un-relatable things together like Bengali Ironman being mistaken as an “istiriola”.
Contrary to all doodles and drawings, I am a physicist in real life and I work as an experimentalist in the field of atomic physics trying to make super accurate timing devices called Atomic Clocks. Thanks to the constant disappointment of my parents in me, I have ended up with a PhD in the same subject.
Arpan’s workplace lab
If you had to select some special posts out of all your works, which ones would they be?
This is really hard for me. These are all my babies, my creations, I love them all equally. I have favorites obviously with the Bengali Batman stuff and perhaps anything related to Bengali childhood like looking at a “tiktiki” while studying.
What would you say is the key behind a successful post?
Relatable content. Wicked Humor. Doodle capturing the emotion.
What would your viewers find you doing on a Sunday morning?
Untrue to what I write about, I actually work quite a bit. Not only am I thinking of the posts to write for the day, I am putting together a book called “Non Serious and Possibly Wrong Guide to Bengalis”.
I am probably sitting with a cup of coffee in a pretty bad mood trying to come up with ideas.
What is the latest App you downloaded on your phone?
Cannot remember. My phone is very important to me and Bongsense would not survive if my phone crashes. So I use my phone very carefully.
If you have to describe Kolkata in 5 words, what would they be?
Warm. Nostalgic. Classy. Refined. Home.