The flavour of Kolkata

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

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.

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: Website:

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.