The flavour of Kolkata

The flavour of Kolkata
The city is known for its old alleys. One such is shot by Atanu Pal.

Sunday, July 03, 2016

Soul of Kolkata- the exhibition debut of Streets of Calcutta

I have been waiting for this at the back of my mind for quite a while. I met Soumya Shankar Ghosal on 10th June last year in a new menu sampling session in a restaurant, introduced to me by blogger friend Indrajit Lahiri, and came to know of his unique initiative around street photography called ‘Streets of Calcutta’. He humbly told me that he had searched a lot but couldn’t find any other archive dedicated to the street photography of a single city anywhere in the world.

Streets of Calcutta has a website and an active an extremely popular Facebook group which today has crossed 9000 members (Find it here ). The Facebook group acts as the face of the initiative. Photographs reflecting the life on the streets of Kolkata get posted regularly in the group by the members who have an undying passion for street photography and for the City of Joy.

The group started conducting photowalks as one of its core activities, other than running the online group, early on. It gradually started doing photography review sessions (Offline and online), street photography competition and photography workshops. Brands like Nikon and Idea have collaborated with the group for their photography contests. Soumya also has the distinction to have curated the first ever photography exhibition of Instagram in India which took place in Kolkata in January this year with the ‘Diversity of Bengal’ as its theme (Read the post on this blog here ). So, an exhibition of Streets of Calcutta’s own was the natural progression.

It started taking shape as ITC Sonar came on board as the partner and agreed to host SOC’s first exhibition in its in-house gallery WelcomArt. An open competition was jointly floated on Facebook to select the photographs to put on display. There were thirteen categories inviting entries, like markets, festival, river, ‘Bhadralok’ (‘Gentleman’ in Bengali) and heritage. The aim was to encompass as many facets reflecting the soul of the city as possible, living up to the name ‘Soul of Kolkata’.

The organizers were overwhelmed as entries flooded in and stopped past four thousand six hundred. It will be an understatement that Soumya had a tough time judging and selecting a winner and a special mention for each category to be exhibited. To be fair to so many enthusiastic participants, a digital display section had to be planned for displaying other select entries.

'Soul of Kolkata', presented by ITC Sonar in association with Streets of Calcutta, was unveiled on 1st July and will go on till 4th July over 11 am to 7 pm at WelcomArt gallery at ITC Sonar. This was in keeping with ITC Hotels' initiative of 'Responsible Luxury' and part of the concierge services of this luxury business resort which celebrate the hidden treasures of its location. It is open to all. There are thirty exhibits including twenty six selected from the thirteen categories and a selection of forty seven on the digital display. They truly reflect the resplendence, the passion and the charm of  the city. The exhibits can be bought for just Rs 5000 each. They can be booked on the spot and will be delivered shortly after the exhibition.

The proceeds from the exhibition will be donated to an NGO is Habra for underprivileged kids.

The traditional inaugural lamp was lit by the Italian Consul General in Kolkata, eminent dancer Priti Patel, social activist Bonani Kakkar and Atul Bhalla, GM, ITC Sonar in the evening of 1st July.

 The Italian Consul General lighting the lamp. Photograph by Sukanta Pal.

Priti Patel lighting the lamp. Photograph by Sukanta Pal.

 Soumya Shankar Ghosal. Photograph by Sukanta Pal.

Many visitors and guests from various fields of the society turned up to see the deftly curated exhibits which include some stunning and mesmerizing shots. Take a look at some of them.

Here are some entries on the digital display.

 The winners and those awarded with special mention. Photograph by Sukanta Pal.

If you love the city or wish to know it better, being a resident or a visitor, spending some time tomorrow in the exhibition should be worth it. You may even end up picking up a frame to adorn your home or office wall, which will surely bring a different charm to the place.

#SoulOfKolkata #StreetsOfCalcutta #ITCSonar #WelcomArt #PhotoExhibitionKolkata

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