Subhro Mitra was the last of the romantics. He dabbled, variously, in painting, in music, in conservation, and in history, writing for advertising and writing about much else, economics, the movies, literature… Subhro loved the arts and combined it with a feel for history, which led to a lasting passion for conservation, specifically that in Calcutta and Bengal. A project related to the preservation of old buildings in Calcutta kept him occupied for much of his last few years, as did, earlier, his work for the Calcutta Corporation website.
Perhaps, not unusually for a polymath, he did nothing to establish himself as an authority on any one thing. He was drawn to new things because he was restless and curious. Some things he did with more devotion – like supporting Mohun Bagan, or staying in touch with friends; a raconteur’s raconteur, Subhro could turn an introvert into an addabaaj in no time. Bright-eyed and witty, and eccentric, his glass was always more than half-full; a non-conformist who was short with idiots and patient when faced with ignorance, but unfailingly self-deprecating.
Some of his closest friends have done better – in conventional terms – in life than Subhro did. All of them, without exception, had time for him when they didn’t for others, and their success was crucial to our man’s happiness, their stories told and retold with relish at every opportunity.

Athletic, though not a great athlete, Subhro’s health started deteriorating not long after he finished with his studies and found his calling in advertising, some conditions he had been born with exacerbated by a lifestyle not ideal. Those closest to him tried to give him a repair job. But he did it his way instead, the only way he knew. Much like the character of Sidhu-jyatha in Satyajit Ray’s film Sonar Kella, he chose only to “keep open the window of my mind, let in the sunshine and the cool breeze”. All else be damned.


The last years were, maybe, not his happiest for many reasons, but it was hard to beat down Subhro’s unique brand of optimism; he’d bounce back after the latest tête-à-tête about something that shouldn’t have been. Always. And then, it ended. Too soon. But his way, cocking a snook at convention.