The flavour of Kolkata

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

Monday, April 26, 2010

Srabanti- the flavour of the season

First, a grand comeback in Bhalobasa Bhalobasa in 2008, then Dujone happened in 2009 with the new heartthrob of the audience- Dev, now the well-hyped Amanush is released by Venkatesh Films in whose Champion she last worked before bidding goodbye for marriage and family in 2003. She's doing another with Venkatesh opposite Jeet......and yet another with the same house opposite Dev.

She looks set to be the flavour of the season and being in the good book of Venkatesh takes care of everything to ensure that.

A little rewind: about a year back Subhashree was in the limelight for her two back-to-back releases opposite Dev from Venkatesh. Wonder what happened to the girl who's not known to have signed another movie after the last of those two mentioned (Paran Jaye Joliya Re).

Friday, April 23, 2010

A look at Bioscope

A look at Bioscope- the new 4-screener in the city multiplex circuit, at New Town, Rajarhat (Opposite Home Town).

1. Box office at the mall facade.
2. Entrance (second box office at the left).
3. The Egyptian theme decor in the Cleopatra auditorium.
4. The Satyajit Ray corner.
5. The spacious lobby.
6. Sandip Ray is checking out the pictures at Ray corner.

Wednesday, April 21, 2010

A family affair

I had noted that Future Group has positioned its pilot format Big Bazaar Family Centre, opened recently in Sealdah, as a family destination unlike your neighbourhood Big Bazaar. By design it is located next to the court adjacent to Sealdah station, thereby offering good access to the people going to and coming out of the station, also those from the locality and surrounding areas. Great choice of location indeed, since it will attract thousands of people passing through Sealdah station everyday, besides households in surrounding localities in equal measure, who possibly have wished they had a Big Bazaar in vicity.

The first thing I noticed on my trip two Sundays back was that there are ethnically built stalls selling phuchka to biriani at the right hand side, giving the place a 'mela' feel as one walks past the gate. There is an Aminia selling biriani and firni, a Bawarchi (Kolkata's largest roll chain) selling its enormous range of rolls and Metro Dairy selling ice cream. The store is four-storeyed and spacious. The food court called ‘Chowpatty’ at the top floor has offerings in snacks and main course in North Indian, South Indian, Mughlai and Chinese. Attached to it are other outlets like a Monginis, Wow Momo (a momo chain) and, interestingly and wisely placed, a Bengali cuisine outlet called ‘Bhuter Raja Dilo Bor’ (named after the famous song from the Satyajit Ray classic ‘Goopi Gayen Bagha Bayen’). The prices in Chowpatty are moderate in most dishes and ‘Bhuter Raja Dilo Bor’ too has got the pricing right- a veg thali comes at Rs 25 and fish thali at Rs 35. I strongly feel the portion sizes are not likely to satisfy an average rice-loving Bengali. But that’s OK, it is a filling meal for an average person for sure. The hypermarket will attract more and more floating customers thanks to Sealdah station and ‘Bhuter Raja Dilo Bor’ will be just the right offering for the rice-loving Bengali walking in during afternoon.

The price range is also pretty down to earth. For an instance Big Bazaar’s two new store labels in shirts have products at Rs 195 and Rs 295. I am not sure whether other Big Bazaars stock this range.

I always advocate a middle class solution in businesses like retail, food and entertainment. The prices vis-à-vis offering should be such that makes strong sense to an average middle class consumer who is highly value-conscious. If this balance can be achieved, the business will have a giant market to cater to.

Pantaloons and Big Bazaar originated from this city and turned into big success stories and cult retail brands giving shape to the Future Group empire. It will be interesting to follow the developments in this 'Big Bazaar Family Centre' format which is entrusted at the headquarters level with Ashni Biyani, daughter of Pantaloons head honcho Kishore Biyani.

Friday, April 16, 2010

Bioscope- the new baby

Bioscope- the new six-screen multiplex from the house of Priya Entertainments, and Axis, the mall by Bengal Peerless, where it is located were inaugurated in a grand event last evening, marking Poila Baisakh. After inaugural speeches, including one by Chief Guest Somnath Chatterjee(Ex-speaker), Chandrabindoo took the stage. It was followed by the premiere of Jodi Ekdin- Riingo's new flick with Priyanka, Indraneil Sengupta and Saheb Chatterjee in the cast.

Bioscope, the most ambitious project of Arijit Dutta (the Managing Director of Priya Entertainments) till date distinguishes itself being the first 'theme multiplex' in India, with a separate design theme on wall/ roof of each audi. So Cleopatra is the one, the largest with a proper stage with complete stagecraft for cultural shows, with an Egyptian theme decor, Aqua is with an underwater theme, Astro with a sky theme and 180 BC with a cave theme. The other two auditoriums will be used as a kids play zone (named 'Just Kiddin') and as a rehersal place for group theare (named 'Rangamancha'). The lobby is huge and has a Satyajit Ray corner, featuring film posters and rare stills of the behind-the-camera and personal life of the maestro, as its USP. But the pricing will take the cake. Mr Dutta has sworn to changed the paradigm and boradbase the multiplex audience by shifting his sight from the well-heeled and the upwardly mobile to the middle class through a down-to-earth pricing of Rs 50 to Rs 75 throughout the week for all shows. To add to it, Bioscope will accomodate Bengali cinema in its prime shows, unlike its peers, and just like Priya Cinema and Star Theatre- two of the best single-screen theatres in town (run by Priya Entertainments) where Hindi and Bangla releases co-exist smoothly.

The launch was well-attended by the dignitaries and celebrities. Spotted Koyel with father Ranjit Mullick, PC Sorcar with Joyshree Sorcar and daughters- Maneka, Moubani and Mumtaz, Dev, director duo Sudeshna Roy-Abhijit Guha, Mahendra Soni (of Venkatesh Films), Ashok Dhanuka (of Eskay Movies) apart from the cast & crew of Jodi Ekdin- Priyanka (with actor boyfriend Rahul), Indraneil (with actress wife Barkha Bisht), Saheb (never spotted in proximity of 'good friend' Mumtaz), Riingo and Rii(Rituparna Sen with a smart, trendy name, possibly to distinguish herself from her famous namesake in the industry). Post-premiere, a lavish cocktail dinner spread was laid out by Aheli- the Bengali cuisine restaurant of Peerless that opened its new branch at the same floor of Bioscope yesterday). There also was a fireworks show to add glitz to the event.

It remains to be seen how the audience warms up to Bioscope in the coming months. With exams over it's back to movie-watching time again and quite a few Bengali releases, both mainstream and alternative cinema, are waiting to be released in April-May. Here's wishing Bioscope all the best.

Wednesday, April 14, 2010

The attack

I had some regards for Mr SK Roy, the Peerless group head, having known his contribution in building a big corporation out of a modest entity. But watching him speak to the press after yesterday's mob attack to Peerless Hospital after it allegedly refused treatment to accident victims unless security deposit was made wasn't a pleasure. He kept on accusing the mob attack of an act of vested interest and defending his hospital. Never was there a mention whether treatment was offered to the hapless, some of who died because of the denial. It's a big question whether private hospitals, no matter however big a name, with possibly an exception of RTIICS, have changed much even after the Supreme Court ruling and state govt. circular that nobody can be denied emergency treatment.

Saturday, April 10, 2010

Dress a Bong

11.13 am
It's 'Dress a Bong' today at my new workplace- a marketing services agency specializing in direct marketing, loyalty marketing and relationship marketing. An idea from HR, it's meant to be our way to celebrate Noboborsho, or Bengali new year, that's up middle of next week. The best and authentically dressed will be awarded today on spot.

The last few days post the announcement of this has witnessed a lot of girl talk about how to report to work in saree from someone's faraway home, how to manage a saree and even how to wear one. A Team Leader at the contact centre at my floor even suggested all the male colleagues should come in dhuti (dhoti) if the female counterparts are expected to come in saree (as many on both sides will be ill at ease managing the respective attire). The accessories were also discussed.

I couldn't take up the courage to walk in a dhuti. It's extremely risky to wear one travelling in local train and getting down at Dum Dum station among the crowd. Possibility is there that the dhuti comes off, leaving one in a mess. So it's punjabi-pajama (kurta-pajama) for me and kolhapuri chappals worn after years.

It's good fun for the security and housekeeping staff checking out everyone's dressing, as they are in their uniform.

Waiting for the announcement of winners.

1.13 pm
As expected, the female brigade looks set to give the males a run for their money. Some of them have changed in quintessential Bengali women attire (red border saree, matching red blouse and imitation jewellery etc) after stepping into office. Compliments like 'Oh, you are looking so cute' are flowing in every now and then.