The flavour of Kolkata

The flavour of Kolkata
The bridge, the river and kids' play. Brilliantly captured by Sujay Kumar Das.

Friday, October 26, 2007

BTC's sixth screening

Bangla Telefilm Club's sixth screening on October 14 at Rotary sadan saw none other than Rituparno Ghosh gracing the audience. BTC's high-profile audience list is getting longer with every screening.

Parambrata's QSQT Police Er Duty, a road comedy, was screened. Read about it in earlier post Telefilm Festival written after I chceked it out at its premiere at the Tara TV Telefilm Festival not so long ago.

Others present included Parambrata and cast members Rajatava Dutta and Nitya Gangyly, Mumbai-based screenwriter and debutant director Soumik Sen (His debut, a wacky Bengali comedy called No Poblem, is awaiting release), tele actors Rajat Ganguly and Abir Chattrejee, telefilm directors Atanu Ghosh and Tathagata Banerjee, film critic Sunetra Ghatak and percussionist-musician Abhishek Basu.

Thursday, September 20, 2007

New post on 'Shuttle'

Just made a new post with the title' Life in a shuttle 1'. It's on shuttle- one of the city's favourite alternative transport options. As I started drafting it on August 19, it has been posted under that date. Find it in Labels>August at the right.

Wednesday, September 19, 2007

New album

Take a look at the new Durga Puja Special Photo Album at the right. It captures Puja right from the first sign (The white flowers, called 'Kash phool' in Bengali) to the last ritual (Bisarjan).

Will try and keep adding pictures to this album to make it as representative of Puja as possible.

Thursday, September 13, 2007

BTC's fifh screening









BTC is now familiar to seeing its screenings being received well. The 9 September afternoon also saw a three-fourth full Rotary Sadan, with some high-voltage celebrity sparks.

The hottest screen couple of present Bengali cinema, Jeet & Swastika Mukherjee, saw the film with the audience. Swastika was there as a cast member of the telefilm being screened and Jeet came as a guest.

Others included actors Mamata Shankar, Indrani Halder, Jagannath Guha, singer Srikanta Acharya and familiar television faces like Debleena Dutta, Shiladitya Patranobis, Abir Chatterjee and Dr Basudeb Mukherjee. Also spotted telefilm director duo Anindya Ghosh- Tahagatha Banerjee. Among the cast & crew of the telefilm, an usual feature of a BTC screening, were actors Kaushik Sen, Badshah Moitra, Swastika Mukherjee, Rajat Ganguly, director Atanu Ghosh and cameraman Sandeep Sen.

The telefilm Megh Brishti Rodh, is a tale of three people, a woman (Swastika) who comes to terms with her present life of happiness and fulfilment as her traumatised past revisits her, her schizophrenic music lover ex-husband (Kaushik) and her sensitive present husband (Badsha). It boasts of a fine screenplay, matching dialogues, fine performances by Kaushik Sen, Badsha Moitra and Swastika Mukherjee, and well-sung Rabindrasangeets by Prabuddha Raha and Kaushik Sen.

In the post-screening interaction, Mamata Shankar became emotional as she expressed how it felt watching such a fine piece of work. She strongly advised Atanu Ghosh to switch to making feature films rightaway, as she felt he had what it takes to make the cut. She especially praised the casting which was just right (I completely agreed silently and later told that to the director). Jeet felt telefilm directors should try some light-hearted work besides such intense drama.

As Atanu revealed from a cue from the audience, the story idea struck him on a tour to Vellore, where he spotted a man in a hospital being visited by his ex-wife and her present husband. There was no acrimony in their interaction. He just observed them, and later wrote the story.

A tea session was followed where audience interacted informally with the cast & crew. Kaushik signed autographs and posed for photos.

Pictures
1. The interactive session in progress. (From left to right) Kaushik Sen, Badsha Moitra, Swastika Mukherjee, Atanu Ghosh.
2. Swastika upped the glamour quotient of the event.
3. Kaushik Sen
4. The handsome Badsha Moitra.
5. (From left to right) Atanu Ghosh and Rajat Ganguly.
6. A thoroughly impressed Mamata Shankar in the interaction.
7. Indrani Halder in a conversation with Mamata Shankar.
8. Jeet and Swastika.

Sunday, September 09, 2007

Two images



The first, a happy one, reminds us that Durga Puja is coming.
The second one, though another happy moment, signifies the end of Durga Puja.

Posted these two wonderful shots by Amitabha Gupta as Durga Puja countdown is on.

Wednesday, September 05, 2007

Durga Puja images 1



1. Golaghata puja pandal in 2006- made of shells.
2. Pathanpur puja pandal in 2006- made of jhuri and kulo (Both are Indian household items made of bamboo).

Anybody with a clue to the present state of Kolkata Puja is aware that the trend in Kolkata pujas (Here puja is each place of the ceremony, since the worship of goddess Durga is done in hundreds of places in the city) for the last few years is fabricating the pandal and the idol as per a theme (Eg. An ancient deity in a cave or an ancient Durga temple at some other part in India) and also making the pandal with some unique item (Eg. shell in one of the above pujas).

The city needs budget hotels

Just remembered to put down a recently felt need here- Kolkata badly needs budget hotels. Ginger, the Tata group budget-hotel chain should have debuted in the city, rather than in Durgapur.

A bunch of colleagues came over from Chennai, Bangalore and Delhi, and since all were first-timers to the city, I spent two nights sharing a room with one at Hotel Victerrace off Camac St. The less said about the service, the better. The room service was painfully slow. So much so that one of the colleagues got her breakfast served after more than half-an-hour and that led to everybody's getting late for the training programme they came over to attend to. Everything, from the state of wall paint to the cooling power of the AC to the bath towel to whatever, the experience for all of them and me was memorable for all the wrong reasons.

Checked with the secretary at office, who did the booking, as to why a better hotel was not found. My guess proved right. While Kolkata has a good no. of luxury hotels (Hyatt Regency, ITC Sonar Bangla Sheraton, Taj Bengal, Oberoi Grand and The Park are some), it has a strong need for budget hotels. The companies who don't really want to cut corners with hotel costs have little choice for all their employees travelling to Kolkata, whose entitlements don't include five-star comfort.

A BTC invite


Above is the invite to Bangla Telefilm Club's fifth screening scheduled at 9 September, Sunday, 4.45 pm at Rotary Sadan. The telefilm is Megh Brishti Rodh by Atanu Ghosh, aired on Tara Muzik.

The show is only for members and guests. To become a member and watch a telefilm with its cast & crew (apart from other celebrities) and interact with them post show, call 9830274315 or 9831333720. Email: banglatelefilmclub@gmail.com. Website: www.banglatelefilmclub.org.

Monday, September 03, 2007

Early signs of Puja


The early signs of Puja (Durga Puja), Bengal's largest event of every year, are visible. Advertisements of special Puja numbers by local Bengali magazines, a special series on Star Ananda on the writers' views on what they've written in this year's Puja numbers, hoardings of Puja committes about this year's themes and seeking sponsorship, updates of Kumartuli, the hub of making idols for the Puja et al.

Found it a little difficult to stomach that the talented artists who make the fascinating idols make only 10-15% profit by selling their work in India, after months of toil and suffering due to weather playing spoilsport every now and then thereby making it unfairly challenging to deliver on time. They are more interested in selling to parties abroad who offer better prices.

The eminent Puja committes apparently earn huge through sponsorship and subscription, but are not ready to pay the idol artists who are behind the main attraction of visiting a Puja pandal- the idols. They take advantage of the poor artisans not being adept at negotiating and demanding a fair price of their work. They are apparently more open to pay the new-age Puja artists, having passed out of art college, who design and make the entire pandal besides the idol with their artistic expression that often challenge the tradition but win prizes for best idol, best pandal etc.

A funny notice

Came across a notice pasted at the cash deposit counter at the Baguiati branch of Axis Bank this morning.

It tells the customers of the bank that it (the bank) is committed to issue clean notes to its customers as per the new campaign by RBI to make more and more clean notes availeble with general public.

So far, so good, until I read the last line.

It said "...the Clean not policy of RBI..".

Not only the silly mistake, what indeed was hilarious was the irony created by the mistake.

Thursday, August 30, 2007

A middle-class solution


In an age when multiplex is the fashionable place to catch up a movie and among single screen theatres choices are painfully few, and most of the middle-class households watch a new movie at home either on pirated VCD or on cable (which runs a pirated VCD only), there seems to be a revolution brewing. Moser Baer, a well-known homegrown co. of removable storage media (CDs, CD-RW, DVD etc), has silently forayed into home-video with their jaw-dropping pricing in this year. Their VCDs of Indian films come at Rs 28 and DVDs at Rs 34, and they are claiming high quality standards and top-class packaging.

What makes these 'impossible' prices happen? Well, as they are saying, their proprietorty patented technology that besides producing world-class production standard, brings down the cost significantly. And they are passing on the entire benefit to the consumers by charging rock-bottom prices.

While the rent of a VCD is Rs 10, it makes great sense to rather buy it out paying just Rs 28 and watch it and show it to friends and guests at home over and over again. Not only the original VCD will score over the rented pirated VCD, it will also free us from the guilt of committing a crime (Of supporting piracy). Now everybody can build his/ her movie collection at home without thinking of cost.

To back up the pricing strategy the company is getting aggressive on distribution front, eyeing stationery shops and other unconventional outlets apart from video/ music stores and supermarkets. They are starting their exclusive stores- owned and licensed- as well that will sell the entire Moser Baer product range. The first one in Kolkata is at OP House at Ultadanga crossing.

The USP of their library of titles is a strong presence of regional movies. The company recently launched 75 Bengali movie titles in a glittering event in the city. They included Swapno by Haranath Chakraborty and Aamra by Mainak Bhaumik which came on home video for the first time. Superstar Prosenjit did the honours (Picture above shows Prosenjit unveiling the collection. (Picture source)

Upmarket solutions in products and services is definitely lucrative. But when comes a middle-class solution like the Moser Baer range of VCDs and DVDS, the business potential is huge, simply because consumers are measured in millions. The perfect example is Reliance Mobile- what they've done to mobile telephony in what short a period, simply because they targeted the entire middle class! Little wonder, the ambitious Moser Baer plans to sell a popular title in millions of units and not in lacs which is the present reality.

For a thorough look at their collection and ordering online, visit their site Moserbaerhomevideo.com.

Sunday, August 19, 2007

Life in a shuttle 1

It is one Kolkata's favourite alternative transports, mainly for those coming and going to the fringes, especially an officegoer's favourite on way home. It gives one the joy, comfort and utility of travelling in a taxi at just a fractional fare or a car without owning one. And it is an unofficial means of travel.

It is shuttle car/ taxi, popularly known as shuttle. In short, a taxi running full, not on meter but on a fixed charge per passenger or a private car doing the same. There are professional shuttle cars too, whose business is running shuttle service on 'fixed routes'.

It thrives especially in the routes not taken up by regular transport options. And it can be a blessing for those who would otherwise had to take a break journey.

The route to the airport from central Kolkata is a 'hot' shuttle route. Car drivers going to airport to pick up a client's person make some extra income by taking some passengers and dropping them at various places till its destination. The operating rate is Rs 15 from Beckbagan (AJC Bose Rd island between Minto Park and Kalamandir) to airport, but you may be lucky if you happen to catch an 'amateur' car going to airport, who might charge you just Rs 10. All because its just some extra money for him, so no need to be insistent on 'operating rate'.

One is luckier when the driver of a modern/ snazzy car, like an Indica or Qualis or Chevrolet going to airport calls for passengers.

Other hot shuttle points (other than Beckbagan) known to me is Karunamoyee of Salt Lake and Beleghata junction on EM Bypass.

Shuttle is an important part of working life of many living on the fringes of Kolkata. More about it follows.

Evolving with time

Single screen theatres in Kolkata are fighting for survival for years. Apart from threats like video piracy and satellite channels that make the viewers spoilt for choice, the newest threat is stiff competition from multiplex. The multiple-screen monsters have been gobbling up viewers of single-screeners ever since their debut. Among other smart business moves, the plexes have chosen areas where single screeners are not present.

But on the face of the competition a few standalone theatres have really evolved with time to take on the competition. Among them is Jaya located at Lake Town. It is a not a single-screener though. It did start with one screen in the 60s showing Uttam-Supriya starrer Jiban Mrityu and riding on the success added another screen at the adjacent plot post 70s. It helped that there was no other theatre in the close vicinity. It was just like anther single screener till some years back. But the way it has upgraded its facilities in recent years to become the neighbourhood multiplex is amazing.

Jaya now has Dolby DTS sound, airconditioning and most interestingly a plex-style box office. The staff at the glass-front box office are uniformed. Each one has a mike in front, books ticket electronically and prints it out. There is a monitor on each side showing current movies, show-timings, availability of seats and ticket prices. With the advantage of two halls it does multiplex-style smart movie programming showing as many as four films a day- a mix of Hindi and select Bengali films. Where it really counts is the surprisingly modest ticket prices- Mondays to Fridays it charges Rs 40 for stall and Rs 80 for dress circle, on Saturdays and Sundays DC goes up to Rs 100 and on Sunday stall becomes Rs 50, riding on the demand of weekend crowd. It calls itself a cineplex, and rightly so!

The locality has a large North Indian population whose outflow to the plexes have been effectively halted by Jaya's timely makeover. As one stands in front of the box office he finds the queue at par with any plex in look.

Hope Jaya keeps evolving. Wish it all the very best.

Saturday, August 18, 2007

Bangla Telefilm Club's fourth screening






As scheduled BTC held its fourth screening on 12 August, Sunday. Max Mueller Bhawan witnessed more celebrities than ever in a BTC screening.

Among film and television directors were- Aparna Sen, Gautam Ghosh, Anjan Dutt, Malay Bhattacharya, Raja Dasgupta, Subroto Sen, Mainak Bhowmick (Of Aamra fame), Parambrata Chatterjee, Anindya Ghosh, Avijit Guha and Birsa Dasgupta.

Among actors were- Nitya Ganguly, Debleena Dutt, Aparajita Ghosh Das, Kanchan Mallik, Rudranil Ghosh, Moumita Gupta, Bidipta Chakraborty, Saswati Guha Thakurta and Chaitali Dasgupta.

The telefilm- Ekti Romharshak Dakatir Gappo (A Tara Muzik telefilm) a classy work by young Birsa Dasgupta (Also known as the son of filmmaker Raja Dasgupta).
Pictures
1. The gorgeous Aparna sen.
2. Aparna talking to the audience about Birsa.
3. Arin Paul, the brain behind BTC.
4. Birsa Dasgupta and Chaitali Dasgupta (Actor and renowned television personality).

Rabindrasangeet in a cool avatar

The Bong Connection has sparked discussions for its own take on Rabindrasangeet among other things. The film features a Rabindrasangeet- Pagla hawar badal dine- in a very unusual, tachno form. What is obvious is the song, just like the film, was designed to appeal to the youth who don't anymore find Rabindrasangeet 'cool'. As expected, many self-confessed Rabindrasangeet lovers have rubbished the new-age treatment.

What is not obvious was the young producer's ambition- Can't we find Rabindrasangeet playing at the discos? They play Punjabi songs frequently, why not Bengali songs including Randrasangeet?

Has the tall aim been reached? Apparently yes. As I just now sneaked into the Orkut community named after the film, Shaoni, a community member reveals that as she was in Tantra in the first week of August, the song was being played, with the crowd 'dancing and singing the song loud'.

Kudos to Neel (the music director) for giving a new life and dimension to our very own Rabindrasangeet and Joy (the producer) for materializing an ambition that will have many cheering to it!

Kolkata factoids 1

INOX, the multiplex chain that introduced Kolkata to multiplexes in September 2003, has a 50-60 % average occupancy rate in the city. This is the highest among the chain in the country, as Vikas Syal, the Regional General Manager has shared with The Telegraph's today's issue.

No wonder this. Kolkata has always surprised the organised retail industry with its retail outlets clocking the highest sales in the entire chain in the country, sometimes in the first year itself- be it Music World or Pantaloons or Westside. Its but natural that the same effect will be carried to organised film exhibition arena as well.

To salute this incredible response INOX is set to open a four-screener at City Centre 2 in New Town, Rajarhat, a five-screener at Diamond City North mall on Jessore Rd by 2008. The 89 Cinemas chain, which it took over, will open a four-screener (its second in the city) at Panditiya Rd in the same time frame.

Finally they did it!!

Yesterday was the one of the most memorable days in life of all the people in Bengal and other parts of India and the world for whom two colours matter most- dark green and maroon. Yes, I'm talking about all the fans and supporters of Mohun Bagan, one of the giants among football clubs in the city. It was a 'Big match' yesterday as Mohun Bagan clashed with their arch-rival East Bengal, the other giant.

It's incredible that no less than seven goals were scored in the rain-soaked game in the stipulated time, and Mohun Bagan emerged the winners at 4-3. Never in the past has Mohun Bagan scored as many goals against East Bengal, the highest being 3. Had it not been for a silly miss, MB would equal EB's record of 5 goals against MB in the black day for the latter- the '75 IFA Shield final. The four goals must have acted as a balm for Mohun Bagan supporters in living with that deep wound.

Sunday, July 22, 2007

Kasha Mangsho goes national!

Read some weeks back in The Telegraph that a couple of enterprising Bengalis have teamed up to bring back the 'Golbari' brand of 'Kasha Mangsho', a hot favourite Bengali preparation, in a grand way and with wide reach. Last year as Golbari at Shyam Bazar junction faced an unceremonious closure, its bunch of loyals was aghast. To their united cheer, the famed dish, served with ghee-smeared rotis (Another Golbari special that looks like a cross between roti and paratha) will come back in the upcoming eatery Koshe Kasha..

Koshe Kasha is set to debut in Sandhya Tara, the rooftop food court at Star Theatre this 15th August. It will be followed by more in the city and a national rollout. And if that fares well, an international rollout is there in the ambitious plan.

I remembered the Telegraph report as I read a nice post about the chain in the Kolkata blog KolkataMusing yesterday. Visit it for further details.


Watch out this space for an update.

Friday, July 20, 2007

The 'Bong Connection' Wave


The Bong Connection seems to have made the desired connect with Bongs and non-Bongs (Incl. Bongs-at-heart) of the city. Everywhere young folks are talking of checking it out, and interestingly they include those who don't watch movies frequently. The movie has completed two weeks starting with a terrific opening at multiplexes. In the current week- the third- all plexes are running two shows incl. one at prime slot. And this is happening after taking on the mights of biggies like Harry Potter (released last week) and Partner starring Salman and Govinda (Released today).

The not-so-flattering reviews on news channels notwithstanding (Anandabazar Patrika, the leading Bengali daily of the city published a flattering review) it has evoked strong liking from the young, as evident on the film's community on Orkut, named after the title. One of the most noticeable messages is that they want to watch exactly this kind of new-age flick. The producer's scrapbook is full of congratulatory scraps.

Looks like Kolkata has finally got its new-age flick that it can watch over and over again and recommend to others. Anjan Dutta finally has a winner after the debut dud Bada Din. He can forget that painful wait before the release of Bong Connection now. As a double bonanza for him and his fans, his long-in-the-cans second film Bow Barracks Forever hits the screens later this month.

Saturday, July 14, 2007

A celeb-studded affair







While I was looking for the way to the entrance of the building which was the venue of Bangla Telefilm Club's (BTC) third screening on Sunday 8 July, I saw celebrities pouring in thick- Rishi Kaushik (Looking dashing as on screen- small or big, in a body-fit black tee and jeans), Aparajita Ghosh Das, Barun Chanda (Whose claim to fame is the hero of Ray's Seemabaddha) and Rajatava Dutta.

Inside volunteering members were busing enrolling new members. A good number of patrons became members. A leaflet briefing BTC and its partners were being circulated. I spotted more from the television industry among those present and stepping in- director duo Sudeshna Roy-Abhijit Guha, director Tathagata Banerjee (The other half of this duo Anindya Ghosh came a little later), actor Nitya Ganguly and singer-actor Monali Thakur. Rana Basu Thakur, a senior marketing pro in Reliance Mobile, also known for his creative pursuits which includes Coolkatha.com was present too. He is also part of BTC's creative committee.In the brief introduction by the official spokesperson Tanmoy (Being a RJ on the move he merits the job almost by default) the new supporters of BTC- The Seagull Foundation for the Arts, Eisenstein Cine Club (One of Kolkata's oldest film clubs) and OurDreamz Cine-Works and the new blog partner Kolkata Curry (In the age of media partners possibly for the first time someone went a step ahead and thought of a blog partner) were acknowledged and the creative committee of BTC was announced. The commitee boasts of well-known names like Kaushik Ganguly and Raja Sen, besides Anindo Bandopadhyay, Atanu Ghosh, Anindya Ghosh, and Rana Basu Thakur. Post a short film called Ek Din by Sudipta Banerjee, the screening of the day's telefilm, Daho, a comic thriller by Anindya Banerjee started. It was aired on Zee Bangla.

The telefilm was enjoyed by many, as evident by members with full-blown praise in the post-screening interactive session attended by director Anindo Bandopadhyay, cast members Rajatava, Nitya Ganguly, script-writer Anuja Chattopadhyay, assistant director Deboleena Dutta ( Better known as an actor) and cinematographer PB Chaki. Barun Chanda broke the ice by enquiring about the twist at the end of the tele. He encouraged Anindo to look for greener pasture in big screen as he believed the director was qualified for it. Anindo shared how the idea of the tele was born in an adda (Chat session) at a tea stall outside a studio. Rajatava spoke about his interpretation of the character played by him.

The visitors' book recorded many entries full of appreciation at the end. Looking forward to the fourth outing of BTC in a grander manner.
Pictures above: 1.Rajatava Dutta and PB Chaki, 2. Aparajita Ghosh Das and Rishi Kaushik, 3. From left- Anindya Banerjee and Anuja Chattopadhyay, and from right- Deboleena Dutta and PB Chaki in the interactive session, 4. Barun Chanda.

Saturday, July 07, 2007

Bangla Telefilm Club's third screening

Bangla Telefilm Club (Popularly known as BTC) is going to hold its first major screening tomorrow at Bengal Creations, A Cultural Hub at 18A Park Street, Stephen Court, 3rd Floor, Kolkata 17 (The building which houses Peter Cat). A full house of 100-plus invitees are expected. The telefilm will be projected on screen, unlike the last two shows on video. The huge demand for seats in its screenings on and after the second screening on June 10 prompted Arin and other active BTC members to look for a spacious place for future screenings.

Meanwhile BTC has become a members-only club with nominal membership fees (Details in its website), which was a necessity due to funds required for the screenings and other establishment costs. So far it has more life members on board than those who opted for quarterly or annual memberships.

The telefilm that will be screened tomorrow is Daho by Anindo Bandopadhyay, aired on Zee Bangla. Have a look at an web album with its stills here.

Those who are keen to check out the third screening are welcome, subject to spot-registration as member at the venue before the show.

Friday, June 29, 2007

The Bong Connection





After keeping the curious Kolkatans on a long wait The Bong Connection is releasing nationally tomorrow. Touted as Kolkata's first crossover movie about Bengalis in contemporary global scenario, this Anjan Dutt-directed English film (Generously sprinkled with Bengali dialogues) is an ambitious venture of Kolkata-based Moxie Entertainments debuting with this movie as a producer.

The film has been shot in Kolkata, and Houston, US by a young crew (Except Anjan, who is in his fifties, with a young mind) last year. The music by Neel Dutt (Also known as the son of Anjan Dutt) will have new sounds, compared to films produced from Kolkata. The mix ranges from Baul and Rabindrasangeet (Treated to a trans-techno feel) to an English song. The four protagonists are Raima Sen, Parambrata Chattopadhyay, Shayan Munshi and Peeya Roy Choudhury.

The film is being intensely promoted in the city since two weeks back through panel discussions, interactive sessions and jam sessions by father-son musical duo Anjan and Neel.

Above are some stills from the film (Courtesy Coolkatha).


Tuesday, June 26, 2007

EKK's first milestone

1. Name: Shibu Tudu.
Location: Ilampur village of Hooghly district.
Trivia: Mother died in cancer, father is suffering from paralysis.
Achievement: Ranked under SC/ST-87 in WBJEE (Engineering entrance) 2007.

2. Name: Subrata Burman.
Location: Roygunge, Uttar Dinajpur district.
Profession: Mason.
Achievement: WBJEE: Engineering: General-3512, SC-109. Medical: General-766, SC-30.

Shibu wanted to pursue engineering, Subrata aspired to be a doctor. None of them knew how. Poverty came between them and their aspirations.

And then Eso Kichhu Kori (Read about them in my earlier posts Eso Kichhu Kori, Eso Kichhu Kori: Time to pitch in and Two websites) identified them and pitched in with sponsorships under its project Sopan. And its great to tell you that Shibu has just been admitted in BESU Shibpur and Subrata in Calcutta Medical College.

Here's wishing Shibu and Subrata all the luck. For EKK it is just the beginning. Kudos to EKK!!!

Saturday, June 23, 2007

Kolkata bods

As reported in today's T2, designer Jatin Kochhar doesn't see himself retailing his just-showcased bikini line from Kolkata. Simply because his observant eyes didn't meet with a single girl with a bikini body in this city.

Well, he is largely right. But he should have seen more of Kolkata streets, shopping malls and high-end eatery zones. There indeed are girls fitting the bill, as evident in the way they carry off trendy clothes demanding great shape. But indeed most of the young bunch are blissfully ignorant of something called 'shape' despite a yen for jeans (its all low-waist now) and short/ fitting tee. While many are downright fat or obese making an awful show in the said clothes others have bulges here and there marring the otherwise good look.

Possibly this city is too lazy and a great foodie to feel excited by trendy bikinis. T2 took the remark sportingly, but came out with a get-a-bikini-bod-in-two-months plan with advice from a fitness expert, a lifestyle coach, a beautician and a style coach. It remains to be seen how seriously Kolkatans respond to the story as will be evident in the next published T2 mailbox.

A dance show

Checked out the first celebrity dance show of competitive kind on Bengali television. Rituparna Sengupta-promoted Jhum Ta Ra Ra Ra debuted on ETV Bangla last Wednesday with a bunch of well-known young faces of Bengali tele. It is aired on every Wednesday and Thursday at 9.30 pm.

It is obviously inspired by Star One's big hit Nach Baliye which brought in a new genre of entertainment-based reality show on Indian television. The format has similarities. There are three judges- Tanushree Shankar, a danseuse, Prabhat Roy, a topline mainstream Bengali film director and actress-dancer Indrani Dutta, it has camera in the greenroom and a choreographer to work with every participant. But what is remarkable is the sheer attitude with which this show is attempted. Everybody surely knew that in production value and in terms of dancing talent the show will be far away from Nach Baliye. But the makers made good use of a limited budget and picked up the best available talent (Albeit some first choices either not available or refusing to take part in a competition). The Nitish Roy-designed set looks good.

I could not make it before the second episode. The participants are Debdut Ghosh, Soumili Biswas, Sagnik, Monami Ghosh, Deboleena Dutta and Sonali Choudhury. Soumili, Deboleena and Sonali are trained in classical dance (Deboleena teaches dance too). They attempted a mix of Hindi film numbers and Bengali modern song. Eye catchers were Deboleena's turn with Takhon tomar ekush bochhor bodh hoy fantasizing Uttam Kumar (Two boards of his photographs were kept on the stage) and Sagnik's Main hoon Don act. Monami looked glam in her costume modelled after the film (Taal) whose song Dil yeah bechain hai she swayed to.Tanushree couldn't help but let know that Sagnik looked attractive (Read hot) and would do well taking the overcoat off giving a hint of his well-built physique. Sagnik didn't blush but, as is common with a Bengali actor.

Sonali came in a ghaghra and a loose-fitting full choli. She hardly looks like a former model these days, with consistent weight-gain. But the costume didn't help. If she wasn't comfortable carrying off a ghaghr-choli she could've opted for a different number (She attempted a famous Jaya Prada number from Sargam).

Indrani was the toughest judge to please, as she didn't mince words. Prabhat Roy was the easiest with almost no negative comments. Tanushree struck the necessary balance. It was good to see Prabhat taking a note of the talent of local choreographers and promising to work only with them in his next project. He wondered why the directors (including him) always work with choreographers from Mumbai and Chennai where local talent can deliver so well.

Monday, June 18, 2007

Two websites

Eso Kichhu Kori, the Kokata-based NGO working towards supporting underprivileged meritorious students (Re: Earlier posts Eso Kichhu Kori: Time to pitch in and Eso Kichhu Kori), has its website up for checking out. It was there since its inception but has been worked on recently and lots of content has been added. Feedback of EKK community members on Orkut played a vital role in giving it the final shape. It has been executed by some of its members.

EKK was recently covered in this story by The Telegraph, which talked about the Orkut community that is its genesis. Its latest accomplishments were mentioned.

The indomitable Arin Paul, the founder of Bangla Telefilm club, which has recently switched to a members-only avatar thanks to its rapidly increasing patrons, has launched a temporary website for the club. According to unconfirmed sources it is the only telefilm club in the country.

Here's wishing both EKK and BTC websites a great journey ahead. May they connect to many, many like-minded people through their virtual entities.

Wednesday, June 13, 2007

Finally the rains....and how

The earnestly prayed for rains finally made a backdoor entry to Kolkata. Started last evening precisely, the overnight showers ensured several vulnerable and not-so-vulnerable pockets get waterlogged. This included regulars like Bangur, Ultadanga, Camac Street, Minto Park and not-so-regulars like the stretch from Park Circus junction to Bridge no. 4.

Rickshawwalas had a field day escorting people from badly affected areas, charging a premium. With fewer buses plying, officegoers were the troubled lot. I didn't get a Whiteliner from Baguiati, so had to drop at Beleghata to catch a second bus or a shuttle car to my Beckbagan office. The wait was painfully long but, as most of the shuttle cars were heading to Park Circus and my bus (The SBSTC white mini) was elusive. Finally got lucky with a shuttle car (Was really lucky as it was a Chevrolet) but it stopped at least 10 times before Park Circus, so terrible were the traffic jams triggered by waterlogging.

The silver lining was the respite from the sweltering heat with the infamous killing humidity of Kolkata, with RH (Relative humidity) reading often going northwards from 90%.

Tuesday, June 05, 2007

The exciting release roster

The release roster for Kolkata films this month and the next looks exciting. Jara Brishtite Bhijechhilo by Anjan Das releases June 8. The Bong Connection by Anjan Dutt releases June 22. And Anuranan by debutant Aniruddha Roy Chowdhury, a Mumbai-based ad filmmaker, releases July 6 (Check its wonderful website following the link).

Jara Brishtite Bhijechhilo is Anjan's second adaptaion of Joy Goswami's work after the critically acclaimed, lyrical Saanjhbatir Rupkathara. Unlike the first, Jara... is a novel in verse, hence challenging for a filmmaker to adapt on screen. But it looks safe in the able hands of Anjan. It has a cast of Saumitra Chattopadhyay, Roopa Ganguly, Indrani Halder, Joy Sengupta from Mumbai (as Arani Sen, the protagonist, created in the mould of Joy Goswami himself as in the novel) and Ishwari Bose Bhattacharya, an actress born and brought up in France. The film explores various relationships in the life of Arani, the poet. In another track is this lesbian relationship between the characters played by Roopa and Ishwari.

Anuranan is the first Bengali film shot in London in an extensive schedule. It has an ensemble cast of Rituparna- Rahul Bose- Raima- Rajat Kapoor. It explores contemporary urban married relationships.

The grand launch

My sincere apologies to my readers for writing late about something which I sincerely feel deserved an early post.

The Bong Connection, the film the entire Kolkata youth is awaiting for a long time, had its music launch on 25 May at Kund area of City Centre. What a grand launch!! As the talented compere Jimmy Tangree (Known to the city as the voice of Red FM) mentioned, hardly any Indian film ever had an open-air music launch.

It started with a musical performance on-stage by the film's music director Neel Dutt (Also known as son of Anjan Dutt), director Anjan Dutt ( A popular singer-composer-lyricist as well) and their friends, with Parambrata Chattopadhyay (Looking cool in a milk white short shirt and denim), one of the lead actors in the film singing the title song (Sung by Rupankar in the film). The album was unveiled by Parambrata, Raima Sen (One of the two female keads), the producer Joy B Ganguly (Of Moxie Entertainments) and Arindam Sil, the executive producer. The producer, the executive producer and cast & crew present there talked about the film which, as the director put it, is a 'fun film about Bengalis in English language' and was never meant to be a 'Mahaan' ('Great' in Bengali) film. Song snippets were shown on two giant screens. Dibyendu, the young singer who has sung a bhatiyali rock number sang it on stage. The event ended with a jam session that saw Anjan belting out some popular numbers from his first album. He started with 'Mary Ann' which as he put it was a song about Christian Bengalis, followed it with 'Raanjana ami aar asbona' which was about a 'Muslim Bengali' and 'Haripada ekjon sadamata chhotokhato lok' which talked about a 'Hindu Bengali'. Kay Kay Menon, currently shooting Anjan's BBD in the city, also produced by Moxie, made a small appearance among cheers from audience and jokingly shared his 'Bong connection' (That he has a Bengali wife) and 'Non-Bong connection (That he hates eating fish).

The album has about six tracks including a nice remixed Rabindrasangeet sung by Nachiketa.

The film releases on June 22.

Saturday, May 26, 2007

Search for new faces

Tollygunge is in eternal and desperate search of new faces to play its leading ladies. Topline director Haranath Chakraborty said on a Bengali news channel last year that he was seriously looking for a new girl to play the lead in his next, to roll out this year. Anandalok, the leading Bengali cine magazine held its own talent hunt to find the elusive new face for a heroine's slot. But the girl who won ended up signing a film with Prabhat Roy, a successful mainstream director, for a character role in under-production Pitribhoomi.

One of the characteristics of the Bengali is looking beyond the obvious. Bengali television, at any moment, can offer at least 3-4 contenders for the leading lady's slot in any mainstream flick. Not that all of them are deprieved, but film industry hasn't been fair to them for reasons best known to it. For an instance Arunima Ghosh, the naughty-sweet looking actress (Picture left, with Prasenjit in Sangharsha. Source The Telegraph.) who can boast of a perfect figure (A rarity among Bengali actresses) and carry off any outfit a heroine wears, besides proven acting talent, got break in two films opposite Prasenjit, the superstar of Bengali cinema. So far, so good. But while the first film was a hit and the second somewhat successful, Arunima vanished from the big screen subsequently.

Arunima is among the bunch of young, aspiring actresses who can provide enough options to any Bengali film director not to look elsewhere in casting his heroine(s). They score well on glamour quotient and acting prowess. Keeping her company are Rimjhim Mitra, Ananya Chatterjee and Rituparna. And if Bollywood has a Konkona Sen Sharma (Albeit from Kolkata), we have a Sudipta Chakraborty to boot.

Looks like the Haranath Chakrabotys, Swapan Sahas and Prabhat Roys don't watch television, neither anybody in their units whose opinions matter. Pray how could they overlook that the current heartthrob Swastika is from television, so are her seniors Rituparna Sengupta and Indrani Halder?

Wednesday, May 23, 2007

Bablooda changes guard

He has served his club for seventeen years (1974- 1991) with a loyalty that is no short of a legend and unmatched till today. All the more so because his club, Mohun Bagan, is one of Kolkata football's Big three and among the top clubs in Indian football. His car was maroon- one of the colours of Mohun Bagan jersey. The competitors of his club desperate to poach him have invariably faced the deepest of frustration whenever he had turned down the most tempting of offers. The name of this rock-solid defender will be embossed in history of Indian football and in the heart of every football-lover in Bengal no matter where his/ her loyalty lies.

His undying love for his club translated into active association even after he hung up his boots, as he moved into a coaching career. Under his guidance Mohun Bangan claimed the national league title twice besides one runner-up finish in the most glorious of his three stints as coach. His success as a Mohun Bagan coach is not matched by too many of his peers.

He is Subrata Bhattacharya, among the alltime best of Bengal's football talents.

And then came the dark phase. After a few disappointing games, he was accused of foul-mouthing his boys, alarmingly losing popularity among them and resistant to any advice and intervention of club officials in selecting players. He was sidelined in his club and unceremoniously dropped as a coach. The treatment he got in his own club post his career as a footballer will find few parallels in Indian football.

And when he finally made up his mind to join Mohun Bagan's arch rival East Bengal during the last two days, it created a stir. "How, just how, could Bablooda (As he is popularly known) do this to us?", fumed Mohun Bagan supporters. Finally yesterday he visited East Bengal tent among ecstatic East Bengal supporters to collect the confirmation letter and attend a press conference. What the East Bengal officials have done is no less than a recruiting coup, the answer to the one Mohun Bagan did long back as they poached Manoranjan Bhattacharya, who was East Bengal's answer to Mohun Bagan's Subrata till he switched loyalties.

I wonder what those who feel betrayed or let down are up to. The logic, rational or emotional, is too strong to defy. On a rational point of view he is a professional coach, and a professional coach doesn't look at personal loyalties in joining a club. East Bengal needed, going by the new AIFF guidelines for all teams taking part in the first professional league set to start this year, a coach with a coaching license. And Subrata has one, unlike Subhas Bhowmick, one of the other names discussed in the meeting to select the coach. And on an emotional point of view, how many miles does one walk holding the hands, when the insults from the loved one refuses to stop?

I am sure there are many Mohun Bagan fans who buy this logic and are not feeling 'betrayed'.

Wish you a great time Bablooda, do better than what you've achieved so far. And prove your worth to those who reposed faith in you. And I said all this being a Mohun Bagan supporter.

Tuesday, May 22, 2007

A cool site on Kolkata

Finally a really cool site on Kolkata by a Kolkataholic. Named Coolkatha.com, it deliberately sounds phonetically resembling the city's name.

At one level, Coolkatha intends to be a place to check out all that is cool about Kolkata and at the other level it aims to connect all Kolkatans away from the city on a common forum. The sharing of thoughts needn't be restricted to everything Kolkata, it can transcend borders and talk of issues that one feels like raising. It has a chatbox for the online members known or unknown to each other to interact, and a mailbox for private messages among members. One can speak his/ her heart out about anything, as evident from the scribbles, without being pretentious.

The Fillumz section, discussing cinema, has three interesting interviews related to the under-production Bengali film No Poblem. The first is of its director Soumik (Whose earlier interview is on this blog in the post A new-age Kolkata comedy), followed by one of its leading lady Mumtaz Sorcar, one by India's legendary magician PC Sorcar (Jr) who happens to be Mumtaz's father and the last is of Dr Kaushik Ghosh, an orthopedic surgeon by profession and an actor by passion.

Here's wishing Coolkatha a happy journey ahead. For more on this site, watch this space.

Wednesday, May 16, 2007

Feluda has got a new case

Today is indeed a happy day for all Feluda lovers in the know. The most popular Bengali sleuth on fiction got a new case to crack on screen.

After a painful gap of many a month since Tintorettor Jishu's last shot was canned and then its final schedule in Hong Kong never fell in place thanks to mismanagement at producer's end, Sandip Ray started his next full-length Feluda flick Kailashe Kelenkari yesterday, with the same cast of Sabyasachi, Parambrata and Bibhu Bhattacharya. The delay on Tintorettor Jishu was getting to the nerves of everyone concerned (Including the Feluda lovers), more so of Sandip. And when the possibility of the schedule to materialize dimmed down beyond hopes after a couple of postponements, he laid his hands on to the next chosen Feluda story for scripting. As it happened, another producer ( T Sarkar Productions who has produced the recent Hungama and is making Chorabali on Zee Bangla) had expressed interest to Sandip to make the next Feluda film after Tintorettor Jishu, followed by a Feluda film in a regular interval, hence he didn't have to look for a producer. Post a quick recce in Ellora caves where the climax will be shot, and ensuring all permissions are in place (Taking a hard lesson from the aborted Tintorettor Jishu) Sandip wasted no time in getting down to write the script.

It was beyond me why after a giant success like Bombaiyer Bombete, the first full-length Feluda film shot by Sandip (The third in the Feluda series), released in 2003, no one from the producer's fraternity saw enough merit (Common sense to be more apt) to produce the next Feluda film. On the other hand our film industry is always blaming lack of good stories to be made into films these days. While Hollywood leaves no stones unturned to run the legendary James Bond franchise, including remaking Casino Royale, we are so blissfully ignorant of our invaluable Feluda franchise which commands incredible loyalty across age groups still today and in Bengalis around the globe. A Feluda film can fetch an entire family to the theatre, which is an exceptional phenomenon today. Hence business-wise a Feluda film a safe bet any day. I don't exactly have a clue the way it is these days but in our teens and pre-teens no one's Bengali literary acumen was complete without a no. of Feluda short stories and novels. Feluda has been published in other languages, made on a series on national television produced by Satyajit Ray himself (The creator of Feluda) and recently a series has been made for BBC radio where Rahul Bose has played Feluda.

More on Feluda and Kailashe Kelenkari later. Meanwhile wishing all the very best to the unit of the film for a timely finish.

Orkut Kolkata Club: Meet VI

Orkut Kolkata Club (Re: Earlier post Orkut Kolkata Club Meet IV) met for the sixth time last Sunday at rooftop in Arjun's apartment house. There were more than 30 of us who came to enjoy a Sunday afternoon among friends and make new ones. The meet followed the inaugural screening of Bangla Telefilm Club (Re: Earlier post Bangla Telefilm Club kickstarts) at the same venue attended by the same set of people.

The mix of backgrounds was eclectic as usual. Among faces new to me (I myself couldn't make it to meets IV and V) were Sanglap, a SRFTI editing student, Shreyas, working in circulation of city's top media house, Shyamashreedi, a senior member running a PR agency and an NGO, who is often called a 'Rocking mother' by her daughter's friends, Nayeesha, a TV anchor who was excited about her new break, Shiladiya who works in medical transcription, Prasenjit (Who just introduced himself as 'Ami Prasenjit' and was jokingly reprimanded by Arin and me that only Bengal's present superstar deserves to introduce himself that way), Amrapali and Anna who made a late entry. There were many other new friends who could not be mentioned here. As a rule, everyone introduced himself/ herself first to the group with name, where he/ she studied/ studies, what he/ she does and likes (Incl.creative skills like poetry writing, blogging etc).

Among older faces known to me were Anindya, Shaoni, Arin, the community owner and Tanmoy who's now the permanent moderator of OKC community. Hats off to Tanmoy for having the spirit to make it there with running fever.

Amrapali sponsored the food- a yummy butterscotch pastry from Monginis. It was complimented by a large bottle of Sprite- a treat from Anna for her new job in a MNC. Live singing performances from Shaoni who impressed us with her Baul rendition and Nayeesha took care of the entertainment quotient. We missed a lovestruck Arjun, the host who had an off and on presence.

Overall, it was one great afternoon ended in the evening. Little wonder why OKC's popularity graph is rising consistently. Due credits go to Arin for managing the club with infectious enthusiasm.

Monday, May 14, 2007

Some stills of No Poblem






Here's sharing with you some stills of No Poblem (Re: Earlier post A new-age Kolkata comedy).

Pic 1: Mumtaz Sorcar (Also known as daughter of magician PC Sorcar Jr), Kanchan Mallick and another actor.

Pic 2: Mumtaz (As Tepi alias Mallika) and Kutty of Abhilasha in a song sequence.

Pic 3: Kanchan Mallick (As Cycle Bapi, one of the protagonists).

Pic 4: Aditya Vikram Roy Chowdhury (As Bhombol alias Bombi), Mumtaz, Kanchan and Kaushik Ghosh.

Pic 5: Kanchan and Sunil Mukherjee.

Those of you interested in a closer look into the film, check out the director's web album which includes stills and some shooting moments.

For more action on No Poblem, watch the space.

Bangla Telefilm Club kickstarts

Bangla Telefilm Club kickstarted on Sunday, May 13 with the inaugural show of Sharatey Aaj, a telefilm by Parambrata Chattopadhyay. It was followed by Orkut Kolkata Club Meet VI. The venue for the show was the living room of Arjun's apartment. Arjun, like the last two Orkut Kolkata Club meets, played the perfect host to Bangla Telefilm Club too.

The modest living room was bursting at seams with so many enthusiastic young folks trickling in. At a point of time some of us had to stand up to accommodate more. Arin and Arjun managed it with great spirit. Arin being the founder of Bangla Telefilm Club (BTC), must be the happiest person on earth having such an overwhelming response to the inaugural show.

As assured by Arin to have with us some cast and crew members for a post-show interactive session, two actors came in during the show- Rohit, the child artiste playing Abbas (Came with his parents) and Barun Chakrabarty playing CM's sectretary.

The interactive session (Picture above. Pardon the quality please, it was shot on a member's mobile in dark.) at the rooftop was terrific. It started soon after Parambrata turned up, apologized for the delay and said he'd wished to be present earlier and watch the end with us. As I broke the ice on cue from Arin, with a compliment on the telefilm and specially its dialogues, Parambrata opened up and we the enthusiastic members had a ball with a discussion enveloping a wide rage- queries on form and content of Sharatey Aaj to contemporary Bengali cinema and what's behind its ailing state. It was great to have with us someone like Param who is very clued in to world cinema. He shared with us an insider's view of Bengali cinema and film industry and thus came out his frustrations about the way the industry is operating and the lack of opportunities for the aspiring filmmakers like him. He passionately nurtures the dream of big screen debut as a director. When that happens we will have some good cinema to look forward to from this six telefilms-old director. One of the things we discussed at length with an eager participation from him was use of multiple story tracks in today's films like Salaam-e-Ishq and Honeymoon Travels Pvt. Ltd. I found him to be a very, very humble person too (Considering he is a very popular actor on television) as he did the one-hour plus interaction without complaint at late afternoon barring any arrangements. It was one pure Bengali adda in nature, which doesn't call for 'arrangements'. During the discussion he expressed his wish to see BTC making a bigger platform bringing together cast & crew of telefilms and audience. As I found in my last interaction with him too, at Tara's telefilm festival (Re: Earlier post
Telefilm festival), he sincerely seeks audience feedback in order to better himself as a filmmaker. As the session came to an end he made it a point to let know it was his pleasure to have such an experience. We look forward to see more of him and his work at BTC and on television.

I also made a point to talk about Rohit who was overlooked. I found him to be a talented actor with great potential. He is a shy, smiling lad, very unlike his intense and sensitive self in this telefilm and in Parambrata's Nemesis, the one he made after Sharatey Aaj, aired few weeks back on Zee Bangla.

About Sharatey Aaj (Aired on Tara Muzik before Puja 2006):
This nice romantic comedy is set in the pre-Puja milieu of Kolkata. The protaginists are the chief minister of the state (Depicted here in a light-hearted manner in a much younger avatar with a few traits of the real CM), who is a bachelor minus romance in life, his stenographer who fills the void in his life and Abbas, a schoolkid in the steno's locality. It's about how the CM falls in love with his steno and Abbas with his mate in rehearsals for a cultural programme being organised for Puja. The tele sensibly touches upon the Hindu-Muslim issues relevant to this occasion (For some time Abbas felt alienated with Puja as he realised his neighbours don't take part in Eid the way he and his father do in Puja.).

Dialogue by Aditi Majumdar who has done the script has helped bring out Parambrata's brand of comedy (Situational comedy in nature). Kaushik Sen has done whatever justice could there be to the CM's role. The sensitiveness of the relationship of Abbas and his single father has been brought out skillfully and is one of the highpoints.

Those interested to join BTC check out its
Orkut community.

Saturday, May 12, 2007

A new-age Kolkata comedy

A bunch of young people have just shot what looks like a new-age Bengali film about 'characteristics that are uniquely Kolkata'. Interestingly titled No Poblem, it's a comedy that laughs at certain elements of middle class Bengaliness, made by Mumbai-based Soumik Sen who wrote Anthony Kaun Hai and is making his directorial debut with this film.

Here's a freewheeling exclusive interview of Soumik with Kolkata Curry:

Kolkata Curry (KC): What is the film all about?
Soumik: No Poblem is a film about middle class Bengalis finding confusions and conclusions to their existence in the metropolis. It's experimental in its narrative, but overall an intellegent riot of a comedy.

KC: What's behind the different spelling of the title of the film?
Soumik: It stems from the fact that lot of Bengalis in their customary nonchalance, choose to leave out the 'R' in their conversation. From pestige, pogram, pofession to Posenjit. Hence Poblem.

KC: What was the starting point of the story idea?
Soumik: I guess it's the character that Park Street has endured, over the years and the uniqueness of individuals that have inspired the quintessential Bangali wit, but something which one misses on cinema. And yes, amidst the technological upheaval, the Bangaliana survives with immense confidence.

KC: Instead of stars the film banks on actors from television and newcomers. How deliberate was it and how far has your cast taken the film forward?
Soumik: Except for Kanchan Mullik, who was in my mind when I wrote Cycle Bapi, I wanted to cast characters rather than box office draws.

The cast has performed admirably, and embody the essence of the characters written for the film.

KC: Is it a cerebral comedy aiming at primarily multiplex audience, a la Bheja Fry, or it has a wider appeal?
Soumik: I don't know if any film is written with an audience in mind. At least not this one. I have my own upbringing and I guess, my sense of humour stems from it. Although the smartness is normally associated with the comfort of a plush multiplex, I don't think humour has any segregation neither does entertainment. I hope everybody who sees it has a good laugh and an enjoyable trip.

KC: How much of Kolkata is in this 'Kolkata comedy'?
Soumik: Hugely. The film, couldn't be made in Hindi although I've had some actor friends who said they'd want to play roles if I set it in Mumbai. But that wasn't a temptation anyways. Kolkata is the star of the film. From the tram to Park Street, to middle class weddings to Writer's Building, to the Dhakuria lake to the football culture to suburban values and political leftousness, it's all Kolkata.

KC: Tell me about the music that you've scored for it. What are its highpoints?
Soumik: I guess it's esoteric approach. Have used vocals of Kutty from Abhilasha for a Bangla techno dance track, Siddharth of cactus singing a old world ballad and English band SPAN singing a bossanova pub track amongst others. I guess, you'll be surprised and pleasantly so.

KC: What was the shooting experience in Kolkata like, considering you've worked in Mumbai so far?
Soumik: Extremely warm and with a bunch of high-energy professionals who love working across conditions, very committed to their craft.

Thursday, May 10, 2007

Whiteliner: An update

Launched not so long ago, Whiteliners, the flagship executive bus service of state government-owned West Bengal Surface Transport Corporation (WBSTC), run by the franchise Pirojiwal Infrastructure Ltd, is struggling to cope up with demand. The large white luxury buses were so successful, smaller buses have been added to the Whiteliner fleet. More routes have been added. Following in footsteps WBSTC has come up with a Starbus fleet of small executive buses outside the Whiteliner brand.

I prefer a Whiteliner everyday when I commute from Baguiati. The Airport-Santragachhi route is the only one that drops me at my Beckbagan office on AJC Bose Rd, in flat 42 minutes. And I have to be lucky enough to get one when I need it. The frequency is 15 minutes, but the Airport-Santragachhi route is alternated with Airport-Tollygunge route. So effectively my bus comes once in half an hour. Also AC buses, with naturally higher fares, come in between. The journey from Baguiati to Beckbagan in a non-AC bus costs Rs 16, while in an AC coach it shoots up to Rs 25.

There are two alternatives in case I don't get a Whiteliner. a) Take an Airport- Jadabpur mini bus, get down at Park Circus Tram Depot and walk for 12 minutes to the office. b) Do a break journey- Take a govt bus/ executive bus (The newer one) to Beleghata bus stop on EM Bypass and from there take a white non-executive govt. mini bus (Under WBSTC run by a private co.) to Beckbagan. In both cases one might have to stand in a crowded bus for long. In this scorching and humid Kolkata summer (Humidity generally hovers over 85% and in peak even crosses 95%.) how that feels is not a difficult guess.

The Whiteliner badly needs to increase its frequency on the Santragachhi route. I wonder what stops WBSTC/ Pirojiwal from doing the needful, since business is assured. It leaves out passengers at Baguiati regularly as its sitting capacity is full meanwhile. Also signs of complacence is visible with many buses looking in urgent need of maintenance incl. repaint. In non-AC buses many a time fans are seen missing.

The Whiteliner has brought in a new era in Kolkata's public transport which was anything but satisfactory. It made a significant difference to the people who would be all too willing to pay a little more to commute comfortably and save time too. In a Whiteliner there are many passengers who would otherwise take taxi. But it needs to do some catching up and shrug off the complacence in order to be a service Kolkatans can feel really proud of.

1st birthday


Kolkata Curry turns one today. Like the baby in the picture it has learnt to stand on its own. Hope it grows healthily in this year.

Saturday, May 05, 2007

A funny take on Spiderman

In the wake of the release of the third coming of Spiderman, I came across a funny take on our dear Spidey on Orkut. It is how it will sound if the legendary Spiderman song is dubbed in Bangal (The Bengali dialect of Bangladesh, and to all Bengalis in and from Bengal the language of the Bangals or people from pre-partition East Bengal). Here it goes:

Spiderman, Spiderman
Dori dhoira jhuilo kyan
Poira gele bhangbe thyang
Spiderman, Spiderman.
...........................
Spiderman, Spiderman
Octopus er 8 ta thyang
Tomare dhorte aase kyan
Spiderman, Spiderman.

Spiderman, Spiderman
Biya korte dorao kyan
Mary Jane je tomar jaan
Spiderman, Spiderman.

Spiderman, Spiderman
Mukhosh feilya palao kyan
Dont be coward, be a man
Spiderman, Spiderman.

Tumi na thakle Spiderman
Mon-ta kore aan-chaan
Duniyar joto polapan
Tomare je chaay Spiderman.

Abar tumi aaila fire
New York City r ghore ghore
Box-office re korle maat
Spiderman jindabaad..!!

Apanjan

Tucked away at a neighbourhood at 50 B Sadananda Rd at South Kolkata is this tiny eatery called Apanjan which easily earns the distinction as one of city's A-list places for fish fry, a dish which is embedded in the city's food culture. Apanjan means 'One's own people', and it really lives up to the name for its huge number of loyalists, some for decades.

I came to know about Apanjan in Orkut's one of the most active communities and the right online place to belong to for any Kolkata foodie-
Kolkata Food Guide. It was strongly recommended and vetted by a few members. And then Riju, the food journalist of Anandabazar Patrika's Saturday city zonal supplement (Uttar Kolkata/ Dakkhin Kolkata/ Purba Kolkata) wrote about the place in his intimate style in my favourite food column Hanrir Khobor. It served as the catalyst for me to go and try the place.

I tried the fish fry, which comes at a premium compared to current market prices, at Rs 25 and Rs 35 for its two sizes. The taste is difficult to describe as I've never had such a preparation made with utmost honesty and the right ingridients in an eatery. A classic fish fry can't be made without beckti, the fish. And the first bite of Calcutta Beckti in the fish fry at Apanjan spoke for itself.

Started on 15 August, 1982, by the Mukhopadhyays in an abandoned godown at their house on Sadananda Rd has a rich history thanks to its celebrity clients and prominent citizens. Rabi Ghosh and Tarun Kumar used to rush for its fish fry and polished it off standing on the sidewalk like other customers (Since it can't offer seating) post their shows at Tapan Theatre , which stands at a stone's throwaway distance at the other side of the road. Bijoya Ray, wife of late Satyajit Ray and a prominent member of his production team, once came calling to crack the recipe of its fish fry.

Prabhas Ghosh, the current manager, firmly believes in the honesty in cooking so that customers can be provided with the best- a stark contrast with today's eateries who cut corners to the point of grossly compromising on health and hygiene, let alone taste. Mr Ghosh wakes up early to shop for fish and meat everyday from trusted vendors for years and makes the stuff (Ready for frying) himself. The cooking medium is fresh refined white oil. No wonder he can afford to claim that Apanjan's kabiraji (Fried) can be had after keeping refrigerated for 4-5 days. One doesn't feel uneasy after having any of its praparations. Apart from fish fry Apanjan serves regular Bengali fries like fish orly, fish finger, hanser dimer davil (A fry with goose egg), chicken/mutton kabiraji, pakora, mangsher singara (Mutton samosa) et al, and its innovation- fish chips.

If you've already made up your mind to visit the place, make sure to turn up by 7.30 pm, as the preparations fly off the showcase in lightning fast speed.

Thursday, May 03, 2007

Chamosa: End of road

Pantaoon's offering Chamosa, a new pan-Indian chain of snack counters that serves varieties of chai (tea) and samosas, clubbed with sandwiches and other savouries, is reported to be closing shop in the city. A friend messaged today that today is the last day before the chain downs shutters on the face of mounting losses, as he came to know on his visit to the Chamosa kiosk at Rabindra Sadan metro station. Surprise it was to me, but all the more to the staff manning the kiosk, who came to know the shocking news today only.

I have precisely two experiences with Chamosa. Both with its outlet at Big Bazaar VIP Rd. In the first I had ordered for a glass of a soft drink from the fountain, and what I was served had anything but what one can call taste. Something must be wrong with the fountain, I thought and threw away the glass after a couple of painful sips. The second was just day before yesterday, I was hungry but no meal matching my choice and budget was available in the Vishal Megamart food court on VIP Rd. So I went to the close by Chamosa stall again and ordered a chilli paneer roll. I am fond of the same thing from Monginis and chose a safe bet at Chamosa. Well, it was awful. There was hardly any taste of chilli and the paneer tasted plain, and not spicy as expected.

Naturally unlike a patron (?) I am not hurt at the fate of Chamosa, but wish Pantaloons were a little bit patient with the new chain. The concept was spot on, what went wrong was the execution. Pricing was also not right, with some items just not moderately priced. All this could have been corrected. Wish the chain comes back in a better avatar.

Tuesday, May 01, 2007

The Kolkata Street Food Hunt I

Ramesh Pandit
Southern Avenue is my favourite street in the city. It is very, very green, the sidewalks are clean and wide and there is not much of a public transport causing sound and air polution. But its other attraction is its wide ranging food zone- awesome street food to restaurant fare, a characteristic yet unexplored by me. Not that I was unaware of the iconic doi phuchka at Vivekananda Park though.

So when I read in today's T2 (The Telegraph's tabloid supplement Mon-Sat) about this old and popular phuchkawala- Ramesh Pandit at Lake View Rd- Southern Avenue crossing, I decided to try his fare at once. I did so in the evening with doi phuchka and regular phuchka. I know that looks like quite a weird combo, but as it is I am essentially a savoury person and can't exactly take much of a sweet-savoury mix (That was doi phuchka), and hence I had to end it with tangy phuchkas. The doi phuchka (A plate of 6 pc comes at Rs 25) tasted really good, but it is not my thing. The phuchka, well, with due respect to his patrons, scored low with me. Reason is, the water didn't taste much sour. It needed more mashed tamarind. Apart from the staple doi phuchka, phuchka and churmur, his other offerings are alur dum, alu chaat and dahi vada. Will surely come back to him for alur dum and alu chaat.

A bit of trivia: He is in the business for 42 years. He uses home-boiled water so that it is safe for even children, and his phuchkas are homemade too, that ensures they stay crispy round the year.

Southern Avenue has phuchkawalas lined up at Vivekananda Park boundary wall, and all of them offer alur dum and doi phuchka, as I found out today. Unlike North, alur dum is quite popular in South Kolkata. And that brings me to the next location featured in this post.

Rajendra
One finds him at Dakshinapan entrance. A phuchkawala whose alur dum has a long list of loyal customers. It comes at Rs 5 per serving, containing 5 pc of notun alu (Small, round potatoes. A seasonal variety but available with phuchkawalas round the year.). The USP of this deliberately underdone preparation is the spicy gravy You have a choice of adding a sweet chutney to it. Rajendra claims even children can have this speciality.

Thursday, April 26, 2007

Via Darjeeling: Mock poster


The makers of the under-production Hindi film from Kolkata Via Darjeeling (Read earlier post Bollywood Via Darjeeling) has been generous enough to share the first cut poster of the film. It has been created by Arindam Nandy, the director, for the Orkut community via darjeeling started by him. It offers a peek into the look of the characters.



First milestone

Today was the first milestone for this blog, for it witnessed its 1000th visit. Tracked since late October 2006 it is indeed an achievement given the time taken for it. Going by the present standard of Indian blogosphere, as revealed in Blogging India: A Windows Live Report published in ITNewsonline.com on 27.11.06, 50% of Indian blogs receive less than 10 visitors each week. That means approximately a little more than 40 visitors a month. Modestly speaking, Kolkata Curry's achieving four times that number gives it a somewhat distinctive position in Indian blogosphere.

On this occasion, I hereby duly acknowledge all my readers who have visited Kolkata Curry during this period, and before that. This achievement would not be possible without the enthusiastic response of the readers. It is indeed they who make it tick. I have always thought a topical blog (Unlike a personal blog that's like an online diary) is driven as much by the blogger as by its readers.

Kolkata Curry has had visitors from US (California, Colorado, New Jersey, Maryland, Illinois, Texas, Pennsylvania, Ohio, Massachusetts, Rhode Island), Canada, UK (Lincolnshire, Birmingham, Bracknell Forest), Spain, Switzerland, Germany, Netherlands, Italy, South Africa, Australia, Philippines, Sri Lanka, Korea, Malaysia, Singapore, Thailand, UAE and India (Kolkata, Mumbai, Delhi, Chennai, Bangalore, Hyderabad, Lucknow, Surat and other places). Most of its foreign visitors come from US. In India it is most popular in its hometown- Kolkata, followed by three metros.

A milestone like this is also a recognition of readers' trust and loyalty. That Kolkata Curry is increasingly being visited through
Google as a source of quality and authentic information related to Kolkata is an indication that it is being counted among netizens. All this also takes the expectation level up and its important to realise that and live up to that.

I am keenly looking forward to queries, requests for post(s) on some subject and quality feedback (Both cheers and brickbats) from you all, my invaluable readers. Drop a comment and/ or mail me (Link at sidebar). All regular readers who are Orkuttians may choose to join the Orkut community about this blog (Link at sidebar) and contribute views.

Happy reading!!

Saturday, April 21, 2007

Telefilm festival



The annual telefilm festival by Tara TV kickstarted yesterday at Nandan II at 7.05 pm. It will be held over this weekend at Nandan II and entery is free. The inaugural telefilm was just-finished and yet-to-be-aired QSQT Police Er Duty (Still above) by Parambrata Chattopadhyay. It was screened to a full house.

The short opening address was delivered by Chhanda Guha, VP, Tara TV and the soul behind Tara TV's experimental genre of telefilms, and Sandip Ray, filmmaker (Also known as son of Satyajit Ray), who talked more about Parambrata as an actor than a telefilm maker. When it was Param's turn he said he didn't make the telefilm to make a statement. In fact films, as he thinks, are not made to make a statement. If a statement is apparent it must have been in the subconscious of the filmmaker at the time of making. QSQT Police Er Duty was made on quite a tight budget (Seemed the budget was tighter that Tara's regular productions) and through a lot of grind and toil.

Shot end to end in a hill station, QSQT Police Er Duty is a hilarious cop & crook chase caper with brilliant performances from two protagonists Rajatava Dutta (As Sunando, the cop, seen in the still) and Kanchan Mullick (As Lakai, the petty crook), two of the leading actors in Bengali television. Of late Rajatava has made it big in films, as the new baddie in mainstream. They were ably supported by Bidipta Chakraborty (A prostitute madly in love with Lakai) and Nitya Ganguly (As the writer unintentionally caught up in the chase). The tele has some downright funny moments ably helped by Aditi Majumdar's one liners. Watch it when it is aired.

The post-show interaction had women gushing and Param almost blushing. The event had an unmistakable homely feel. Rajatava, Kanchan and Nitya Ganguly were present and appeared in front of the audience post-show, alongwith Arin Paul (Chief assistant director) and Aditi Majumdar. Param interacted with audience in and out of the auditorium with his usual humble self. This is his sixth telefilm and looks like he has got a command on the craft. I liked his last tele Nemesis too. Wish him all the best in his pursuit of being a filmmaker.

Also personal thanks to Arin, the chief assistant director of the tele who invited me for the show and also fielded technical queries from his friends (Me included). It was his birthday and instead of being gifted by us, he gifted us this nice telefilm.

Wednesday, April 18, 2007

A rivetting film


Kolkata Curry received its first press invite on April 16. It was to be part of a small, select audience for a special screening of The Pursuit of Happyness starring Will Smith, releasing this Friday. The screening took place at Gorky Sadan.

This is the first film which has Will's son Jaden Smith in the cast. The real-life father-son play the same on reel too. The film is terrific. A touchy, human tale riding on Will's able shoulders. Will Smith is beyond words in this film. It is based the novel on the true story of Chris Gardner (Played by Will Smith), the American stock-broker who faced intense struggle of livelihood with his little son before he made it big. Set in 1981 San Francisco, it is full with old-world charm, minus any special effects. The film has the ability to to teach values of life. Hollywood doesn't make such movies too often these days. It has received a 5-star rating in New York Times. A complete review is coming shortly on my film blog Show Business.

Watch it just for Will Smith, if not anything else. Will Smith visited Bollywood a couple of months ago and prospects of his sharing screen space with our stars in Hindi films came out on media. I don't know if our egoistic stars realise the kind of talent he is. To me Will Smith is among gods of screen post The Pursuit of Happyness.