Flavour of Kolkata

Flavour of Kolkata
Newly opened Mother's Wax Museum. Shot by Arnab Sadhukhan.

Saturday, January 24, 2015

Twitter-savvy Railway official

It was surprising to find out that the Divisional Railway Manager of Sealdah division actively operates a Twitter handle. As it was, the other day on my way to office, I was pleasantly surprised to find out a PA system in the Sealdah-bound local train compartment. A recorded voice did station announcement like it is in metro rail. I tweeted my finding. Later on I found out that it had been retweeted and favourited by the said Twitter handle (named 'drmsdah'). It also replied that the plan was to extend the PA system to all rakes in the division.

It is not usual that we, the general public, get to interact with a senior official of a govt. institution, especially which renders a service like transport. So I tweeted about the handle, which was favourited by it too. Then yesterday while I noticed a no. of snack stalls on Bidhannagar station, which I hadn’t noticed before and tweeted about it, the handle responded stating such stalls often occupy precious public space that results in a compromise of security of passengers. Such spaces need to be reclaimed.

Hence as it appears, the Railway official, who is the like the CEO of the division as the position means,  is not on Tweeter just for giving updates of new services , development and train schedules (which it does) and retweeting praises off and on, it is also interested in engaging in dialogue with commuters, which is indeed praise-worthy. For example the above-mentioned conversation which extended beyond what is stated, informed me that there is (at least) an intent to have quality assured vending at all stations (like one sees at large and important stations like Dum Dum and Barrackpore) provided Railway gets "the space required freed".

Sunday, January 04, 2015

A visit to the museum

Relived my childhood through a visit to Indian Museum with my daughter on last Christmas eve. Visited the place only once with my father ages back. Have wanted to go back many a time all this while. The museum turned 200 years last year.
It has extensive collection of exhibits of anthropology, archaeology, geology, botany, zoology and art spread in 25 galleries on three floors. The ticket has a do-it- yourself guide of all the galleries and facilities of the museum at the back which I found very useful. It was a tad disappointing that many galleries were closed for modernization. But it did feel good to see the improved aesthetics and presentation of the modernized galleries- for example terracotta, zoology and Egypt. The ticket costs just Rs 10 and you can do photography of the exhibits on collecting a permit for Rs 50 (and it’ll be worth it) from the counter.
Not much is to be said about the collection. It’s amongst the best in India. A child of any age will be mesmerized by the exhaustiveness of the exhibits in various sections. The visit will be especially enriching if he/ she has been studying Indian history and life science for a few years. My little one was obviously excited to see the dinosaur skeletons and the mummy in the Egypt gallery (which is one of the museum’s major attractions) in particular.
I was amused by two exhibits. One was a 19th century chessboard from Murshidabad in the Decorative Art section on the second floor. It’s a standard size marble board with chessmen made in ivory. The unique feature was that all the chessmen were actual- so there were actual boats, elephants, horses and soldiers. The other one was a life size Durga idol completely made in jute in the ‘Plants in the service of man’ section on the same floor.

The chessboard
The collection is so vast, an entire day (It’s open 10 am to 4.30 pm/ 5 pm) may feel short if almost all the galleries are open. We spent about three hours and had to rush through many sections. There’s a sprawling, well-manicured lawn inside where you can rest your aching feet after/ in the middle of the tour in the mellow sun in this season. Food isn’t allowed inside. There’s an in-house cafeteria, but though the food is decent and reasonably priced, it lacks variety. In the afternoon we found nothing other than kachuri (puri)-ghooghni  (which we had) and rice meals available and the items were getting sold out fast.

The pristine white Raj era building and the lawn

Sunday, December 21, 2014

Kolkata lives the ISL dream

This football-obsessed city dreamt of this moment a little more than two months back when country’s first private international football league kickstarted in this city itself among massive fanfare. What made it special was that it was co-dreamt by its loved warrior prince. Atletico de Kolkata started with a stunning opener of Indian Super League and kept the tempo burning...before it hit a plateau from the middle of the season till the end (the precise reason why I haven’t blogged about it so far). It lost its league topper position and the ‘undefeated’ distinction down the way. And then it crawled to the semis. The home match was a disappointment, adding to its increasing list of draw games. When the away match took it to the coveted finals, the dreaming eyes were wide open again.

It was an exciting match with some attacking football. So much so that some moments found the box unguarded at either end. But the ninety minutes didn’t see a single goal again. ATK didn’t have its full strength. Its out-of-form striker Fikru had been dropped from the squad earlier and the skipper and marquee player Louis Garcia had to watch from the sidelines due to a hamstring injury. As injury time started rolling, we got ready for a tie-breaker decider which would fall short of a desired triumph if in our favour. And then..............the moment came from an underdog. The match was over soon. The dream came true. We are the champions of the first ever Indian Super League!

Mohd Rafique, take a bow for that stunner of a header off the measured corner kick that gave us the first ISL and made history. You gave ‘opportunistic’ a new meaning in your replacement stint of those few minutes (Due credit to the coach for this).  Despite your short height, you emerged the tallest among all in the evening. And the icing of the cake, again, is the fact that you are from this city.

A shoutout to our ‘wall’ Bete on the goal line too. Had it not been for that incredible save off Kerala’s aggressive striker Michael Chopra, the match would have ended differently.

Atletico de Kolkata with the trophy. Also seen are Ms Neeta Ambani of Reliance, co-promoter of ISL and ATK co-owners Utsav Parekh (sixth from left sitting) and Sanjeev Goenka next to him. Mohd Rafique is sitting next to Ms Ambani and the trophy, facing.

ATK coach Antonio Habas and co-owner Saurav Ganguly with the trophy

And yes, my heart goes to Kerala Blasters. Not because it gave us some wonderful buddy moments with Saurav and Sachin who watched the match from the stands cheering for their respective owned teams, but for the superb football it gave us in the final. If we are the champs, they’re not far off.

I sincerely hope ISL lives the football dream of this nation in every possible way. The eyes will be on spotting and nurturing talent from all corners in for the long term. The euphoria that it has generated is enough to drive that.

 Photos sourced from http://www.indiansuperleague.com/

Friday, December 12, 2014

Ebar Shabor: the poster

Stylish, classy. Innovative layout and interesting colour play with a dash of red on the Aviator in dark blue monochrome. Will stand out among all releases- Bengali, Hindi and Hollywood. Loved the first poster of Ebar Shabor- Arindam Sil's detective action thriller catching a new year release.

Designed by city-based creative agency Inner Circle Advertising who have always maintained fine standards in their film publicity work (Some of their past work includes Chalo Let's Go, Madly Bangalee and Antaheen).

For the uninitiated, Shabor Dasgupta (played by Saswata)- a police detective working in detective department of Lalbazar (Kolkata Police HQ)- is a creation of eminent author Shirshendu Mukhopadhyay who wrote a series of novels based on him. Pure adult fiction, it's USP is the exploration of the dark alleys and twists and turns of human mind through an ensemble of characters. Arindam wishes to film a series, and starts with Rwin. After the legendary Feluda and Byomkesh, Shabor is being eagerly awaited by cine lovers. Obviously the actor playing him has added to the excitement. 

Monday, December 08, 2014

Open Tee Bioscope- recreating north Kolkata of adolescents

Open Tee Bioscope (Wrote about it in this recent post) seems to have its heart in the right place as it tries to touch upon the soul of north Kolkata of the adolescents, all thanks to the director who's an authority on it, being a true blue north Kolkatan. Loved this picture on the movie's Facebook page which also took me to my childhood in a town called Barrackpore in north suburbs of Kolkata, when we would criss cross our para (locality) on cycle in a group. Looking forward to learn more about this January '15 release.

Saturday, November 29, 2014

Atanu Ghosh talks ‘Ek Phali Rodh’

I have liked the craft  of Atanu Ghosh right from his telefilm days for his choice of subjects, his ability to develop the characters and storytelling. His debut film Angshumaner Chhobi (where he gave first break to one of my favourite actors Indraneil Sengupta) was critically acclaimed. I liked most of his second film Takhan Teish. But I loved his last outing Rupkatha Noy which was received well by the cinema-loving audience. As the countdown for his December 5 release Ek Phali Rodh is on, the director makes time for an exclusive interview to this blog on his new film. It has an impressive lead cast of Dhritiman Chatterjee, Ritwik Chakraborty, Jisshu Sengupta, Tota Roychoudhury and Aparajita Ghosh Das.
Kolkata Curry (KC): Ek Phali Rodh revolves around the bystander effect. The subject sounds more documentary than a full length feature film. What made you approach and develop such a subject for the big screen? Weren’t you apprehensive of audience acceptance?
Atanu Ghosh (A): On the contrary, I feel there is little you can ‘document’ about Bystander Effect, because it happens in reality and you do not know when it is going to happen ! So you cannot get prepared to photograph it unless you have CCTV cameras fitted in every nook and corner of the city that captures real life. What drew me to the subject was the method adopted by social scientists to study it, that is, the process of creating ‘mock’ crisis. Fiction films are about ‘mock’ situations and ‘crisis’ is the most dominating dramatic interest in any fictional film. So I had no apprehension whatsoever regarding the choice of the subject and I knew for certain that it has all the ingredients that go into making of an engrossing fiction film.

KC: Like your last film Rupkatha Noy, does it also have stories running parellely?

A: No, here a group of people get assembled towards the common cause of exploring the process of Bystander Effect, that is, the socio-psychological phenomenon where people do not offer any help to a stranger in crisis. But, thereafter the film branches out exploring other facets of life. So the Bystander Effect is actually the springboard from where the film originates and then undertakes a journey of self-discovery.

KC: The shooting must have been challenging, considering you did candid shooting on real locations for some outdoor scenes.

A: Since the issue is straight out of our lives and directly related to our own experience, I wanted the film to have the feel of emerging out of ‘real’ life. I avoided all sorts of made-up or decked -up situations, which is normally done in case of fictional films. So it is like ‘photographed reality’. No superficiality. No overplayed emotion. No pretension. We shot in crowded roads using hidden cameras and even when the locations were indoor, we chose places like general ward of public hospital during visiting hours. So, the actors, in a way, mingled with the general crowd to get as close to reality as possible. Yes, it was very difficult at times, but very really challenging as well.

KC:  Like the last one, this also has an ensemble cast. Please share with us how you went about casting the main characters.

A: Never before, I had so many of my favourite actors working together, as in Ek Phaali Rodh. I craved for those who keep us glued to the screen not only for the principal cast but also for the notable cameos. So we have Dhritiman, Ritwik, Jisshu, Tota and Aparajita playing the lead while Rudranil Ghosh, Arunima Ghosh, Dulal Lahiri, Barun Chanda and Arindam Sil have enriched the film with their brief but glowing presence. And keep your eyes open for two young debutants who are bound to steal the show - Mahua Halder and Aritro Dutta.

KC: Do you think Tota is an underrated and underutilised actor ?

A: Undoubtably so. The effort Tota puts into a role is incomparable. His willingness to push his capacity to its limits has given us memorable performances in Chokher Bali and Angshumaner Chhobi and I really believe he would be a revelation in Ek Phaali Rodh as well. He has put in an entirely different body language to bring out the contrasting qualities of strength and vulnerability in the role of the blind author of love stories.

KC: Joy Sarkar has scored the music again for your film. How have you used it in the film ?

A: I always want music to flow out effortlessly from a film. I don’t want them to remain separate entities as song numbers or background pieces. They should integrate into the fabric of the film and become quite invisible. Joy is remarkably spontaneous. He can effortlessly blend a song into the fabric of the film. In Ek Phaali Rodh, the songs provide an alternate layer of input – sometimes they hold a torch to a character’s psyche, sometimes they add a footnote to the images and sometimes they even suggest an alternate interpretation of the scenes.

KC:  Finally, which Bengali films have you liked in 2014, and why?

A: In the last few years, I am really drawn to the wide range of subjects that Bengali films are trying to explore. It’s really fascinating to come across some specimens of unique concept and novel treatment. In 2014 too, I liked quite a few films for various reasons, the last one being Chotushkon for its distinctly different form of storytelling.
Here’s wishing Ek Phali Rodh all the very best.

Sunday, November 23, 2014

Turtle’s call for some action

Well, when you see a teaser like this on social media, before you go to the bottom, the expectation built comes with a dash of naughtiness. Here’s the revealer that follows:

You are drawn towards the picture and the hashtagged campaign name. Then immediately looking further, you notice the message at the right. It’s not matching your expectation, but the proposition is probably not something you would like to brush away.
In keeping with its image of a socially conscious brand, this time Turtle spares a thought for the underprivileged as the winter is setting in, by engaging people to donate clothes in any Turtle store in India. The clothes will go to the underprivileged (after washing) through Goonj, a well-known national NGO, and give them a little more warmth this winter. So if your clothes are winterwear, great! To spread the word, Turtle is encouraging you to post a picture on the social media with (hashtag) #idroppedmyclothes and nominate your friends/family to do the same. For a change doing your bit for the people less fortunate than you comes with its share of fun. 
The campaign was launched by team Ebar Shabor (The eagerly awaited Bengali detective flick starring Saswata Chatterjee in the title role, releasing this December). The director Arindam Sil and cast members including Saswata, Subhrjit Dutta, June Maliah and music director Bickram Ghosh donated clothes in the South City Mall store. They posted pictures and nominated their friends to do the same.

Team Ebar Shabor at the launch
Clothes have started pouring in the boxes in various stores. Here’s a shoutout for Somshubhra Ray (picture below), one of the early supporters, for dropping fifty clothes in the Gariahat store.

So if it sounds interesting, go ahead and drop your clothes in a store. Get clicked and share it on social media to get others join in. Otherwise you may also share this post on your social media pages to spread the word. Happy dropping.

Thursday, November 20, 2014

Open Tee Bioscope: First look

Here's the first look of Open Tee Bioscope, the eagerly awaited Bengali movie which will mark the directorial debut of Chandrabindoo's Anindya Chattopadhyay. It was launched by none other than Amitabh Bachchan among much fanfare on 17th November, 2014.

OK, for the uninitiated about this very special guest unveiling the first look, he was shooting in the city for Piku, directed by Shoojit Sircar, who happens to be the producer of Open Tee Bioscope.

Coming back to the movie, it's a growing up tale of a bunch of adolescents in north Kolkata, where Anindya himself has grown up and became famous. The movie has been extensively shot in that part of the city, and ends with a football match, underscoring the north Kolkatan's passion for the sport. Interestingly among the lead cast- Riddhi, Rwitobroto and Dhee are sons of well-known fathers like Koushik Sen, Shantilal Mukherjee and Shilajit respectively.You have seen Riddhi and Rwitobroto in Kahaani. I hope to come back with more about the movie.

The charms of rail journey

Came across this unique group of rail lovers on Facebook. I am an ardent lover of rail journey and a firm believer of the fact that to know Bharat (not India) you need to travel long distance by rail. Rail journey throws open a plethora of beautiful visuals of nature, and rural, suburban and urban lives. It brings to us villages, towns and cities and gives us a peek into the lives being lived there which we wouldn’t have known or seen otherwise. Not to mention the railway infrastructure- various trains, stations of various sizes and era etc- which can be a study in itself. The members of the group, called Railway Lovers, frequently post photographs shot en route. Here starts a series of curated pictures from the group.

Nilgiri Mountain Railway through Glendale Tea Estate
by Bhaswaran Bhattacharya.
 The above is the cover photo of the group.

Guwahati-Kajiranga Express towards Burdwan in winter. By Vivian Boye.

 Pichkurir Dhal halt (near Bolpur) by Arunava Das. 

Between Takipur and Lohapur in the evening. By Akm Jasimuddin.

Galsi station (Burdwan), pre-winter 6.40 pm. by Suraj Samuel Hansda.