The flavour of Kolkata

The flavour of Kolkata
Sunset near Bagbazar. A surrealistic shot by Satyam Sit.

Saturday, June 25, 2016

Street food: Bread omelette

Mumbai has vada pav. We have dim pnauruti (in Bengali).

It’s called bread omelette in Indian English. I saw it called ‘eggy bread’ by a blogger from New Zealand who discovered it on her trip to Kolkata.

It is one street food which can make your light breakfast, gives you an option for a quick lunch, is the perfect afternoon snack, even a late evening snack when you are going home from work late and every place is shut. Whenever one is terribly hungry, it is one option that can be availed right away. I once heard from a colleague that it made the dinner for their family midnight at Shyambazar when their invitation had gone wrong. It is that versatile!

It is available in many other Indian cities. I am not aware of the popularity of this dish or the residents’ dependence on it elsewhere, but Kolkata survives on it. There will hardly be places in Kolkata where you can’t find it. Typically tea shops that keep bread and egg make it, and there are standalone shops making it as well.

Yet it is absolutely underrated! When it comes to recalling popular street foods, it never pops up. It’s so possibly because it’s such a simple food that we don’t consider it worthy of mentioning. It’s that younger son in the family who earns less and runs errands for the family. The family depends on him heavily but won’t ever recognize his contribution. Look at the cult status vada pav has attained in Mumbai, then look back at the humble bread omelette in Kolkata.

It is one of the simplest foods to make- an omelette is made in a saucepan and two slices of ordinary long bread are (the cheapest commercial bread in the city) put on it when it is just set. Then it is turned over for a minute or so. The omelette is folded around the bread and served with a sprinkle of salt and pepper. Customization instructions from customers include not to put chilli or sliced onion in the egg before beating it. It is generally cut into pieces before serving or packing. It is routinely taken away to offices as it’s popular among officegoers.
Don’t confuse it with French toast. It has its independent identity.

It indeed is what we fashionably call ‘Health food’, which we hardly realize, and is an easy option to get when we rack our brains to find a healthy food to eat.

And it is inexpensive. Anyone from any economic class can afford it. Little wonder its popularity cuts across sections of people- from the school student to the daily wage earner to the executive with a laptop. It sells at around Rs 14 on the streets. Because of its wide availability especially in tea shops, it can save your day at the time of a strike while all eateries are shut but an odd tea shop is open.

So, for all this and more, here is a salute and lots of love to our very own dim pnauruti aka bread omelette. Long live!


#StreetFood #KolkataFood


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Saturday, June 18, 2016

Dragon Boat Festival celebration at Yauatcha

The Dragon Boat Festival is a unique celebration of China that dates back 2,000 years. It is celebrated by eating sticky rice, drinking rice wine, racing dragon boats and indulging in festivities with friends and family.

Yauatcha Kolkata, the fine-dining dim sum teahouse in Quest, is celebrating The Dragon Boat Festival throughout June with a special menu. It is as part of the celebration happening in all the restaurants of the chain in India.

The menu features a limited edition menu created by head chef Wang Yixuan featuring zongzi- pyramid-shaped sticky rice dumplings, a dessert and an exclusive cocktail.

The meticulously created menu includes authentic but contemporary delicacies devoured during this festival. Yauatcha’s newly introduced zongzi dishes include various fillings of edamame and vegetarian duck, pork belly and shiitake mushroom, lamb and pine nuts and chicken among others.

Chicken Zongzi 

Prawn Chicken Zongzi 

To special dessert and the cocktail created with wine complete the meal experience. The Wine-soaked Water Chestnut with Mango Cake is served with a Sauvignon sorbet, while the Citrus Spritz cocktail, made with vodka, dry vermouth, lime and wine will also be available to order à la carte for a limited period of time.

Wine-soaked Water Chestnut with Mango Cake served with a Sauvignon sorbet

The Citrus Spritz cocktail

The Dragon Boat Festival menu is available to order from an a la carte menu from 1st June until 30th June 2016 for all day dining.

Pictures provided by Yauatcha


#DragonBoatFestival #Yauatcha


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The new probe

Sarada: Hi buddy, wassup?

Narada: Not fine. The CM has just announced a police investigation into me by none other than the CP.


Sarada: Worry not! I know him. He’s a cool guy. He was the boss of SIT mandated to investigate me. I was stressed like you initially. But you know very well how much of me was eventually revealed by his team. Just chill! You shall be in safe hands (Winks)!


#PoliticalCircus


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Thursday, June 16, 2016

Night Revelers Buffet at Park Plaza

Where do party animals and night owls go when they feel hungry? Jai Hind Dhaba (Sarat Bose Road)? Balwant Singh’s Eating House? Sharma Dhaba (Ballygunge)? The reliable options in city proper won’t probably need more than one finger to count. There’s indeed a glaring lack of eateries to feed the party folks wanting to grab good food at night.

To bridge this need gap, Park Plaza, the star address in Gariahat has come up with a robust offering called ‘Night Revelers Buffet’.

Five-star food after party? That’s expensive! No way!

Here is the catch. It’s an elaborate buffet with all the trappings of a five-star environment, but at an exciting price. It’s a 50% off on the regular price! As Mr. Avneesh K. Mathur, General Manager, Park Plaza Kolkata Ballygunge, said on the launch of this buffet end-May, “The concept of Night Revelers Buffet is created keeping in mind the young party crowd and night revelers who can experience superior quality food at an affordable rate in a five star environment…….we aim to attract the late night diners who would have a great opportunity to graduate to fine dining through this.”   

The director and cast of the upcoming release Shororipu, including the protagonist Chiranjeet, Rajatava, Koneenica and Sohana Saba (a popular actress from Bangladesh) unveiled the offering at Park Plaza.

The Shororipu team- Ayan Chakraborty, director (third from left); (left to right), Chiranjeet,
Sohana Saba, Rajatava, Koneenica      


Unveiling of the buffet by the Shororipu team

The timing of the buffet commences from 10 pm and goes on till 1am –the ideal dining time for the night revelers. The buffet comprises of world cuisine which includes a mix of oriental, Indian and Western cuisines.

The spread is divided between soups, starters, salads, cheese (Cheese platter with dry fruits and grapes), live chaat counter, raita bar (where you can make your own raita), a variety of papads, main course, freshly made pizza as per choice from show kitchen, a live pasta counter and a live waffles counter with condiments. The courses are balanced between vegetarian and non-vegetarian dishes. The dessert table is elaborately laid with ten items other than a choice of ice cream.

 The do-it-yourself raita counter. You can make your own raita.

If one is in the mood for chaat, options are phuchka (with tangy and sweet water), dahi vada, ghughni chaat, papdi chaat and palak patta chaat, freshly made. For those looking for a healthy option, there’s sprout chaat.

 The chaat counter

You can have your choice of pasta (Penne/spaghetti/farfalle/fusilli) with a choice of sauce (Spicy Arrabbiata sauce/organic basil pesto sauce/béchamel sauce) and a choice of ingredients (Green olive, black olive, bell pepper, baby corn, steamed vegetable and olive oil) at the pasta counter.

 The pasta counter

I liked the starters- Panko-crusted Fish Finger with Cilantro and Mayo, and Bhatti Angara Murgh. The first was stuffed with fish in a tasty crust and the second was spicy, succulent chicken kebab.

In main course, my favourite was Japanese Udon Noodles- spicy with a dash of sweetness and full of flavour. It goes well with the Fish in Manchurian Sauce. The other non-veg preparations in main course are Murgh Dum Biryani, Afghani Gosht and Wood-fired Oven-cooked Chicken with Wild jus (a light, dryish chicken dish in a thin, stew-like soup).

 Japanese Udon Noodles with Fish in Manchurian Sauce

Chilli Basil Fried Rice 

 The dessert counter


#MidnightFood #NightDiningKolkata #ParkPlaza


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Thursday, June 09, 2016

Sharp Shooters in action in Darts Premier League

The inaugural edition of Darts Premier League (DPL) was kickstarted on 5th June at CC & FC amid great fervour among the teams. The players appeared in colourful team jerseys with their names written behind. The playing teams were Sharp Shooters, Arrow Heads, Apollo Eagles, Warriors, Shining Stars, Magma Yoddha, Dartmeisters, Aauris Strikers and Eklavya.

For the uninitiated, here is the earlier, detailed post on DPL.

Photograph by Sukanta Pal

 Photograph by Sukanta Pal

The action moved to The Bengal Club on 7th June. As I walked into the hall on the first floor in the evening, the game was on in full swing at one part. The players were throwing the dart thrice each, then collecting them back from the board and stepping away for the opponent to throw. This was being repeated through the multiple games in a match. Four dart boards were busy as eight teams were engaged in intensive competition.

A Sharp Shooters player during a game

A Sharp Shooters' game in progress. Photograph by Sukanta Pal.

The Sharp Shooters vs Arrow Heads game in progress


The back side of the playing arena was packed with players from various teams and their friends and family watching the game closely and often cheering aloud for their players.


A player-cum-scorer

 The Sharp Shooters vs Arrow Heads game in progress

A player-cum-scorer following the score

The match official

The other part was relaxed. People were chilling out, chatting over food and hard drinks (served from respective counters) and watching the match live on a screen. There was a counter issuing food coupons against cash.

The game being shown live at the venue

As the league table stood on 7th June, Sharp Shooters were competitively placed. They made 4 points off 4 matches. Five teams out of all nine had played four matches each. Only Apollo Eagles and Warriors were ahead of Sharp Shooters with 6 points each, though in terms of the difference between won and lost matches, Sharp Shooters was ahead of the other two with a score of 5 (12 games won and 7 lost).

The other four teams had played 5 matches each and Arrow Heads were leading with 6 points and a win-loss difference of 5.


#DPL #AIDA #DartsInKolkata #SharpShooters


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Sunday, June 05, 2016

Life in a local train – 1


The fourth seat
Actually, it’s non-existent. A local train from Sealdah (or Howrah) has either three seats in a row or a row of eight seats along the wall at either end. So, what’s the idea of a fourth seat?

It’s a virtual seat. Virtual, in a non-digital sense. The norm followed by passengers is that four people must sit on the three seats. And this often leads to funny outcomes to hot altercations between passengers. 

It starts with a passenger requesting the three passengers already occupying the seats to shift for making the minimum space for him/ her to fit in, verbally or with a common hand gesture. What happens thereafter determines how comfortably he/ she will be sitting through his/ her journey.

If the passengers occupying the seats are of average health, the fourth passenger gets a decent place to somehow fit on. If one or more passengers sitting are on the leaner side, or there is a child among them, it’s better. But if one or more of the sitting passengers are generously built (the more, the worse), discomfort is spelt for the fourth. The degree of it depends on how he/ she is built. If he/ she is just healthy, it’s less discomfort. If more than healthy, it’s bad luck. In this case, the fourth person either sits on the given space or requests the other three to ‘adjust’ a bit if possible. The request may be stern if he is aggressive. The other three are reminded that four people should seat comfortably. And the fun begins then.

Generally, one of the other three points out, “Look at the average health of ours. You are right. But you should also keep in mind that it entirely depends on the size of your co-passengers.” It often leads to an argument where the fourth one points out at how one (generally the one sitting  by the window) is not cooperative and could shift a tiny bit (freeing just about two inches) so that he or she could sit a bit comfortably. There are insensitive passengers who will budge barely or not at all pretending he can’t help it. Often other passengers, sitting or standing, join in and the conversation gets hotter.

An overweight friend of mine once jokingly remarked how his paunch ensured that he got a better deal at the fourth seat. His girth was ‘respected’ by the ‘sensible’ co-passengers and they tried their best to free as much space for him to fit in as possible. Had he been skinny, he would not have this ‘privilege’. But honestly speaking, he used to be lucky and this is often not the case.

Often a witty co-passenger snubs the fourth person negotiating for a larger slice of the seat or just enough space to fit half of his rear, stating, “You are right (that your seat is narrow), but it’s all in the size, dada (Hinting at the healthy to chubby occupants)”.

Size does matter when one is claiming the fourth seat, and the lean has a cutting edge on the healthy and the plus size.

A hack when one doesn’t get enough space to sit- Turn and sit facing the side wall. Rather than struggling to fit half the rear, you get to seat a bit comfortably. But this will not be possible in a crowded train where there are passengers standing all around the seats as it will not allow the leg space needed in the aisle.  

When I am not in a mood to stand or too tired to stand on a local train, and the seats are occupied, I try and hunt down the maximum size of the fourth seat with a hawk’s eye on a quick walk on the platform across the compartments. The moment I spot it, I rush to grab it before it catches anyone’s ‘fancy’. My build neither gives me the cutting edge nor it puts me at a disadvantage. So, it pays to be choosy.

Local train ride can be tricky, you see. It also has many more interesting shades that create a deep attachment for a passenger.


#TrainJourney #Commuting #LocalTrain


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Thursday, June 02, 2016

Sharp Shooters in Darts Premier League

Darts is a popular game all over the world for ages. It is a professional competitive sport too, with professional championships being held since 1978 (Like BDO World Championship). It is a popular pub game commonly played in the UK, some other European countries and the US.

One interesting aspect about darts is that you start with a points kitty, and play to gradually bring it to zero.

It has become popular in India too, though far from what it is in Europe and America. All India Darts Association was formed in 2000 and it has traveled a long distance in popularizing this inexpensive sport which demands hand and eye coordination. It has distributed free dart boards to many schools, clubs and even individuals who it thought had demonstrated a tremendous potential to grow. It has done a plethora of events, including competitions at all levels like clubs, schools, corporates, states, zonal up to national level, to popularize the game and has remodeled it from a game of elite to a game for the ordinary mass. It has sent Indian teams to various international competitions like Asia Pacific Cup, Singapore Open, Malaysian Open, Philippines Open, Winmau World Masters and World Cup Darts where around seventy one affiliated countries of World Darts Federation participate. At present, All India Darts Association has fifteen affiliated state associations.

Darting in India is set to be more exciting and glamorous now as National Darts Academy in association with All India Darts Association announced the launch of the inaugural edition of Darts Premier League, India’s first franchise-based darts tournament to be held in Kolkata.

Darts Premier League will be played amongst nine teams in a round robin format from 5th June 2016. Each team will have nine players out of which one will be the marquee player. The players of each team were selected through an auction held on 12th May at CC & FC. The price cap of each franchise was Rs 1,00,000 for the inaugural year.

 Pre-event party for Darts Premier League


To make for the glamour bit, every team has a celebrity brand ambassador. Here’s a look at the teams:

  • Sharp Shooters owned by Firdausul Hasan who is a producer of Bengali films. Gargi Roychowdhury is the brand ambassador.

  • Shining Stars owned by Dilip Singh Mehta of Multicon Group. The brand ambassador is Rituparna Sengupta.

  • Aauris Strikers owned by Tajender Singh Saini of Aauris. Their brand ambassador is actor Parijat Chakraborty.

  • Apollo Arrows owned by Dr. Rupali Basu, CEO- East, Apollo Hospitals. Ananya Chatterjee is the brand ambassador.

  • Tungsten Creed owned by Raghav Mundra of Simplex. Its brand ambassador is Arunima Ghosh.

  • Warriors owned by Sarbani Malik. Their brand ambassador is Ushasie Chakraborty.

  • Eklavya owned by Amit Tibrewal of Amit International. They’ve signed up Rachel White (who acted in Har Har Byomkesh) as the brand ambassador.

  • Arrow Heads owned by AD Bhatia. Sampurna Lahiri is the brand ambassador.

  • Magma Yoddha owned by Kaushik Sinha of Magma Fincorp. Sohini Sarkar is the brand ambassador. 

Brand ambassadors Ananya and Arunima (Second and third from left)

The players will be divided into three categories A, B & C for the auction. Group A will comprise of marquee players, Group B will comprise of national champions & Group C will comprise of state champions. Each match will comprise of five games including men’s singles, women’s singles, men’s doubles, open doubles and mixed doubles. The top four teams will qualify for the semifinals. The winning team gets a trophy and prize money of Rs 6,00,000 and the runners-up a trophy and Rs 4,00,000. The tournament begins from 5th June 2016. The semifinals & finals will be held on 10th and 11th June 2016 respectively. The matches will be played at Saturday Club, Bengal Club & CC & FC.

Prasanta Saha, Chairman, Darts Premier League & Secretary General, All India Darts Association said, “We have taken this initiative to popularize the game in our country & bring out the best players for representing India in the future. All the best players from the country will participate in the tournament. We have started the premier league in Kolkata which will be followed by similar tournaments in other metro cities”.

Now, a peek at Sharp Shooters. Sharp Shooters Sporting Club is a professionally managed sports club engaged in development and promotion of darts and other sporting activities. It aims at aims at changing the sporting ecosystem of its surroundings and promoting sports personalities and sportsmanship to a greater height. The team owner Firdausul Hasan who also happens to be the secretary of St Xavier's College Calcutta Alumni Association is the president of the club.

Sharp Shooters was the champion in the Calcutta International Club Premier Dart League held last year. The club has handpicked some of the best players in the game for fighting it out in Darts Premier League. Here they are-

Vidhul Goenka – All-India ranking 4, runner-up at the National Ranking Tournament 2015 in men’s doubles  and the winner at the National Ranking Tournament 2015 in mixed doubles.

Jaqueline Khanna – All-India ranking 7 and state ranking 4, ladies doubles winners at West Bengal State Darts Championship 2015 and ladies doubles runner-up at National Darts Championship 2014.

Samit Malhotra – All-India ranking 7 and state ranking 20, ranked second in men’s singles at National Darts Championship 2014, winner of Kolkata Darts League 2013 and winner of men’s doubles and team event as well as runner-up at mixed doubles at National Darts Championship 2014.

Kanika Jhajharia – State ranking 12, has played in West Bengal state championships and represented Calcutta International Club at inter-club tournaments.

Vijay Singh – State ranking 55, has played in West Bengal state championships and represented Dalhousie Institute at inter-club tournaments.

Hasnu Mukherjee – Has represented Calcutta International Club at inter-club tournaments and was the 3rd Best Female Performer at CIC Premier Dart League in 2016.

Gautam Sen – Has represented DKS at inter-club tournaments.

Sanjay Todi – Winner of Kolkata Darts Championship 2016 and has represented Calcutta International Club at inter-club tournaments.

Team Sharp Shooters

Looking forward to some sharp-shooting in DPL as the countdown is on.


#DPL #AIDA #DartsInKolkata #SharpShooters


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Sunday, May 29, 2016

Review: Cinemawala

Direction: Kaushik Ganguly
Cast- Paran Bandopadhyay, Parambrata Chattopadhyay, Sohini Sarkar, Arun Guhathakurta

I admire Kaushik Ganguly’s prowess of picking up seemingly unexciting subjects and spinning a yarn around them. When Shabdo was released, I wondered how a foley artist’s profession made for an engaging plot. I realized it when I watched the film. I trust Kaushik with this skill and this is the reason why he is able to keep coming with new stories and never needs to fall back on literature.

Cinemawala is a tale of father-son conflict on the backdrop of a closed single-screen theatre in a village. Pranabendu Das (Father- Paran Bandopadhyay) is the owner of the theatre which has had its share of glory in the golden years of Bengali cinema. He finds sustenance from his family business of fish wholesale but refuses to let his undying love for cinema be defeated by his present. So he spends almost the entire day in the office of his theatre Kamalini, reminiscing the better days of Bengali cinema, punctuated with anecdotes, with his sole companion, the jobless projectionist of the theatre- Hari (Arun Guhathakurta). The session stretches till late evening over drinks. Kamalini is named after his wife (Alaknanda Roy) who left his family not being able to cope with his husband’s obsession for cinema with little care for a family life. Pranabendu’s son (Parambrata) doesn’t share his father’s ethics and values and is working hard to grow his business of illegal CDs and DVDs of current movies. He hates his father’s fish business and wants to run his family on his own. He needs money as his wife is pregnant. The father and son’s views on reviving the theatre don’t meet and they don’t see eye to eye. The son’s wife (Sohini Sarkar) is torn between the father and son.

With his finesse, Paran is a treat to watch as the brilliantly understated Pranabendu Das. Being one of the gifted veterans in the business, his acting prowess gets redemption in the well-written protagonist’s role of a ‘cinemawala’ (movie merchant). Pranabendu’s passion for cinema, for which he sacrifices a family life, is exemplary. Parambrata wonderfully matches up to him in a nuanced portrayal of the shrewd son who is desperate to come out of his father’s shadow (so much so that he buys a projector by selling jewellery gifted to his wife and uses it in illegal screening of movies in the village fair). On the other hand, he is good as the husband who loves his wife. Sohini is apt as the naïve wife who silently does her best to keep the family together. Arun Guhathakurta, another fine talent, is perfect as the old Hari who has undeterred loyalty to his master and deep attachment with the celluloid projector he used to operate. Lama is good in a small role as Param’s business partner with speech issues.

Paran Bandopadhyay

 Parambrata Chattopadhyay 

Kaushik’s writing and deft direction touch upon the grave crisis of survival for the single screen theatres and the threat of piracy as one of the primary reasons for it. The well-etched characters crafted by him complimented by the minimal yet effective dialogue has enabled him to use the actors’ fine expressions in close shots and bring out the ideological conflict between the father and the son in flesh and blood. The fine moments like the heartbroken Pranabendu looking out of his office window as the buyer of his defunct projector is taking it out, or the hurt caused by his son at home that makes him throw away the fish he picked up for his pregnant daughter-in-law will be etched in the mind long after the film is over. The film underscores an unknown theatre owner’s passion for and understanding of cinema- qualities those are essential in running the business of cinema. The climax is imaginative with a touch of surrealism.

It is indeed part of Kaushik’s best work. The film also underscores the fact that Kaushik is a ‘cinemawala’ too, who keeps coming back to us with finely crafted films of different flavours that we savour.

Soumik Halder’s camera and Tanmoy Chakraborty’s art direction have helped create the laidback life in the village and its occasional merry-making like the fair (Poush mela) and the run-down theatre (especially the old world office). Indradip Dasgupta’s minimal background score is effective in carrying the poignant scenes. The editor’s job (Subhojit Singha) is well done too as the film never drags in its compact screen time of 105 minutes.

Cinemawala celebrates the nostalgia around the cinema which may inspire us in the audience to go to the theatre more often to watch the movies we desire to, shunning the easy modes of watching a movie available these days. After all, a film is meant for the big screen (As Pranabendu exclaims, “Eta cinema. Eta big screen”). I only wish there was a ray of positivity in the film about the future of the cinema business. Though it is an uphill struggle to run a single screen theatre these days, more so in the rural areas, all is not over yet.

(Parambrata's picture- sourced from the film's Facebook page)

#Cinemawala #BanglaCinema #KaushikGanuly #Parambrata


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Thursday, May 26, 2016

The big bang release of ‘Praktan’

As an impassioned supporter of Bangla cinema, it gives me a high to note the great job the makers of the keenly-awaited 27th May release Praktan has done in distribution. Besides an uncharacteristically wide release in Bengal (last heard 101 theatres, by distributor Piyali Films managed by Arijit Dutta of Priya Entertainments), the film is having an unprecedented big release all over India. Most importantly, and as another first, this will be a day-date release which means the film will see a release all over India on the same date as Bengal.


In the 25 cities that the film will be released in, most do not generally see a Bengali release though they are known to have a sizeable Bengali population (like Lucknow, Kanpur, Chennai, Allahabad, Bhubaneshwar, Patna and Dhanbad). Bangla movies have a release (if at all) deferred by a few weeks mostly in cities like Delhi, Mumbai, Pune and Bangalore.

On top of it and as yet another first, Praktan is going to have a day-date international release in 8 cities in US and 1 city in Canada. The theatres are:

California- AMC Mercado 20, Cine Grant Fremont
New York- Bombay Theatre
Dallas- Fun Asia Richardson
New Jersey- Regal Commerce Center
Los Angeles- Brea Plaza 5 Cinemas
Seattle- Roxy Cinema
Toronto- Albion Cinemas, Woodside Cinemas

Bangla movies don’t see an international release for quite some time. In the past, a US-based organization called Databazar used to release Bangla movies in the US on a small scale but the efforts were not sustained for long.

All this is possible thanks to Eros being the distribution partner. This big and eminent production & distribution house of Hindi cinema and of late, regional cinema, has the necessary clout in distributing Indian movies in the country and international markets. Eros decided to back the Praktan director duo Nandita Roy & Shiboprosad Mukhopadhyay’s films after they distributed their last release nationally observing its success in Bengal (Belasheshe, a blockbuster of 2015). 

If Praktan is a success, a large national and international market will open before Bangla cinema from which it can immensely benefit.  The struggling industry is probably pinning its hopes on the film.


#Praktan #PraktanRelease #ErosRelease #USrelease #CanadaRelease



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