Writer, filmmaker, musician, and humanitarian Ashok Fakir Sarkar dies

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      Renaissance man Ashok Fakir Sarkar died suddenly on March 23 at the age of 83.

      Sarkar had an amazing life, which included writing and directing documentaries, hanging out with Allen Ginsberg, and working as the public relations officer with the Vancouver branch of the worldwide Vedic organization ISKCON for more than 17 years.

      He brought Baul music to North America and also worked for a while as the Georgia Straight advertising manager, in addition to writing articles for the paper. He actually spent a lifetime writing, leaving a voluminous collection of screenplays, books, poems, and stories.

      Sarkar started in show business as an actor in Calcutta (now known as Kolkota) at the age of nine. He launched a magic career when he was 14.

      Later he started writing articles for Bengali and English newspapers. If that's not all,  Sarkar also wrote and directed documentaries for the Indian government in the 1960s.

      He moved to the United States in 1967 with his Bengal Folk Band, and opened an ashram in San Francisco. During the next four years, he spent time with Ginsberg, Alan Watts, and other philosophers and thinkers of the era.

      Sarkar arrived in Vancouver in 1971, and was hired at the Straight. Later, he joined Pacific Press, which published the Vancouver Sun and Province, where he remained until his retirement in 1991.

      He carried on with his passion for film as the founder and president of Sarkar Enterprises and Twenty-First Century Films.

      Sarkar also worked as a translator for the Vancouver Police Department, for lawyers, and for people working in the immigration system.

      He is survived by his children Kunal, Mitu, Kaniska, Babui, Duhita, Arjun, and Jason. There will be a celebration of his life at the Vancouver Public Library on Wednesday (April 1) at 6 p.m.

      There will also be a memorial service on Saturday (April 4) at the Hare Krishna Temple in Burnaby at 11 a.m.




      May 4, 2009 at 11:49am

      He was the first person I met when I moved to Vancouver in 1974. We were great friends and he is the man responsible for introducing me to Indian food. We would visit the Hare Krishna temple a number of times and I found that fascinating, but not really my thing. I also gave him a hand once for one of his magic shows for a bunch of kids. There were also many other things we did that were unheard of back in Saskatchewan at the time. I believe he helped shape how the then teenaged me would go forward embracing the diversity of the Lower Mainland. We lost touch after I got married in 1979, but I ran into him once on the Skytrain a few years ago and it was like time had not passed at all. I think if everyone lived as full a life as Ashok did in his 83+ years, we would all be pretty lucky. I'm just sorry I didn't know about this until today.

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