Meet Mrinal Talukdar– Journalist by profession, farmer by passion
GUWAHATI: A revered senior journalist, award winning documentary filmmaker, author and a farmer at heart, Mrinal Talukdar is regarded as one of the most trusted faces on northeast television.
Son of eminent researcher and litterateur Nanda Talukdar, Mrinal describes himself as a 100% Guwahatian having been born, brought up and now working here. Mrinal, after pursuing higher secondary from Cotton College and graduating from Arya Vidyapeeth College, began his journalistic career as a sub-editor of the English daily, The Sentinel, in 1989. Later, Mrinal opted for a degree in post graduation in Mass Communication through Indira Gandhi National Open University (IGNOU).
Following a brief stint at The Sentinel, Mrinal moved to the GL Publication group to initially launch The Meghalaya Guardian and The North East Times as a staff reporter in 1990-91. In 1992, Mrinal moved to The Assam Tribune as a staff reporter; it was a brief stint as he got selected in the United News of India (UNI) news agency and joined the Guwahati Bureau as principal correspondent. In this capacity, he covered the whole of northeast India and was elevated to the post of Chief of Bureau (NE). He then moved to Patna to head the Bihar region.
After working with the UNI for a few years, Mrinal left the agency to pursue his own career in television and writing. “When I came back to Guwahati in 2010, I reluctantly joined the industry as a TV anchor. But by 2015, I deviated into academics and research and indulged in the longer form of journalism, that is, books,” Mrinal told G Plus.
Presently, he is working as senior journalist of the Assamese news channel, Pratidin Time.
Mrinal has been writing books on contemporary social history of Assam for over a decade now. Majority of his books are best sellers and he has been hailed for initiating a new genre of literature in Assamese by mixing history and geography.
“Assam is very good at producing fiction stories and poems, but it is notoriously bad at documenting history. With the help of the huge library of books that my father left behind, I like to document the history of Assam so that more people are apprised of it,” says Mrinal.
Some of his highly acclaimed books are 'Mautam' that deals with the history of insurgency in the Northeast, '1962' which is an in-depth look into the Indo-China war busting the long held contention that it was China’s aggression, 'ULFA' that documents the growth and history of the ULFA in Assam and 'Assam After Independence' which, in English, is a complete political history of Assam since 1945.
Mrinal’s latest book ‘Mandalay’ was released on September 4 last. Speaking to G Plus about the book, he said, “Mandalay is an account of the rhino horn poaching trail in South East Asia from Kaziranga (Assam) to Kunming (China). In this book, I have explored how poaching in Kaziranga National Park can be curbed but not finished due to the rising demands in China and the complex poaching syndicate that is controlled from Myanmar.”
He is currently researching and working on two new books – one on the National Register of Citizens (NRC) and the other on the underbelly of tea industry.
Mrinal is also a documentary filmmaker with over 20 documentaries to his credit including ‘In Search of Job’, ‘No Body's Man’ and ‘Road to China’. ‘1962 Tezpur’ - a documentary directed by Samujjal Kashyap and based on a book by Mrinal – won the National Award for Best Investigative Film/Documentary.
Additionally, Mrinal’s 'In search of Job' has been awarded best film in the South Asia Documentary Film festival, his one-minute film 'Majuli' has been awarded the Osian Talent in the Osian Cine Fan Film Festival. Mrinal has attended the prestigious Hollywood Silver Lake Film Festival held in 2006.
Mrinal has given shape to the Nanda Talukdar Foundation that is considered the treasure house of Assamese literature. The foundation specializes in early nineteenth century to twentieth century literature of Assam and boasts of a collection of nearly 11,000 books. The foundation that started in 1996 has now grown into an institution specializing in doing social audit on the micro credit and rural economy of the corporate and public sector besides being a major publication house.
Mrinal is passionate about cricket and considers all his cricket coverage, especially the World Cup 2007 in West Indies, amongst his exceptional reportage. "I did play serious cricket as a middle order batsmen up to a certain level but could not crack the Ranji team,” he said.
Mrinal is very passionate about farming and fishing too and considers farming as his primary occupation. He owns a plantation at Pabhoi, 14 kms north of Biswanath Chariali; it’s a place where he is most at peace.