If you are a Bong, I bet you remember a famous scene from one of the Satyajit Ray’s movies where ‘Jatayu’ (one of the characters of the Feluda movie, ‘Sonar Kella’) interacted with a bodybuilder. With so many facilities and machines swinging right by us, bodybuilding and fitness programs are not a secret anymore. But back then in the 70s’, not many people were into the concept of fitness and bodybuilding. And if we go back to the 50s’, there existed only a handful people in Bengal who were interested in fitness and bodybuilding, Monotosh Roy was one of them. No, the bodybuilder who appeared on screen was not Monotosh Roy; he was his son Moloy Roy. Had it been him, I would not have given the title ‘untold’ anymore, right? Let us hear out the story here.
Early Life of Monotosh Roy
Born in a small village named ‘Gajaria’ in Dhaka district of then undivided British India on 21st October 1916, Mr Roy spent all his childhood days by the banks of Meghna River. He did not have the luxury to have a lavish family; rather he had to struggle against poverty right from the time of his birth. Despite such harsh family condition, Monotosh Roy took his schooling from an English Middle School of his village. But it was not the school and study that attracted him; it was something else.
The Unexpected Turn of Events
Nowadays, we all know the name of famous persona ‘Mr. Monohor Aich’ who is mistakenly known as ‘First Indian Mr Universe’; well, he is not. When Monotosh was only a little child of 12 years, he took immense pleasure in lifting weights and pumping iron. Little did his family know, one day his name will be immortalised in the Golden page of history. Starting from 12 years, he never stopped his practice of bodybuilding, and he worshipped ‘Bishnu Charan Ghosh’, one of the finest yoga teachers of then British India. Ever since Monotosh started practising, he dreamt of training under Bishnu Charan, and one day it finally happened. Bishnu Charan Ghosh saw him practising and accepted him as his student.
The Journey of Being India’s First Mr. Universe
The title didn’t come to Mr Roy smoothly. Since 1939, he had to struggle it over. After years of practising under Bishnu Charan, Mr Roy first took part in a bodybuilding competition when he was only 23 years old. Although it did not go well, he participated again in the same year and won ‘East Indian Bodybuilding Championship.’ And the following eight years gave him ‘All India Bodybuilding Championship.’
By winning the ultimate glory of India, Mr Roy moved to the UK to participate in the ‘Mr. Universe’ competition in 1951. Not only he mesmerised the audience by amazing muscle display, but he also won that Mr Universe title in group III Amateur Division Category. As a celebration of his victory, he was also felicitated at the India House by Indian High Commissioner.
And after his victory, he never struggled over his career again. Mr Monotosh Roy acted as a trainer to many yoga and fitness centres. He used to train celebrities. In 1959, he established the ‘Indian Bodybuilding Foundation.’ Not only that, but he also wrote many columns on leading newspapers and books on yoga, fitness and bodybuilding.
In 1998, he founded a multi-gym near his home in Kolkata. Also, he passed his legacy to his son, Mr Moloy Roy who later won the Arjun Award for bodybuilding. A simple cardiac arrest took the life of Mr Monotosh Roy in 2005. He was not only a living legend, but he also inspired thousands of Indians to believe in our old age yoga too. May his soul rest in peace!
Written By: Subharthi Bhattacharya