French author Dominique Lapierre, whose book earned Kolkata its most cliched name, died of “old age” as told by his wife Dominique Conchon-Lapierre on December 5 at the age of 91. She added that she is “at peace and serene since Dominique is no longer suffering”.
His 1985 novel “The city of Joy” interplays the role of an American doctor and a rickshaw puller, both of whom are in search of enlightenment. The novel was later reflected on the big screen with the same name casting Patrick Swayze and Om Puri in 1992 by British director Roland Joffe. The film was hailed for portraying the soul of Calcutta, which earned Kolkata the undocumented title. But to turn the page, it also received a lot of criticism for rather depicting a Kolkata embedded in poverty. The shooting was stopped many times, but when the film came out, it received critical acclaim and love from the audience. He also wrote many famous bestseller books, the most significant among them being “Is Paris Burning”.
Lapierre had a passion for India and distinctly for Kolkata. To add to the ‘joy’ the city already holds, he formed a humanitarian association named the ‘City of Joy Foundation’ along with his wife to rescue children suffering from Leprosy from the slums of Kolkata. Using the royalty earned from his bestsellers, lectures, and other sources, the foundation rescued 9,000 children suffering from leprosy and other diseases due to poverty and malnutrition. He also earned many admirers from his trips to Kolkata.