The flavour of Kolkata

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

Monday, December 27, 2010

Autograph - 75 days

Autograph completes 75 days in theatres. Kudos to Srijit Mukherji & team and Shree Venkatesh Films. It's great news for Bengali alternative cinema in its year of glory marked by a handful of big successes - the highest in recent years.

Nondinee first look

Here is the oven-fresh first look of Nondinee (Releasing in 2011), that marks the return of director Subrata Sen five years after Bibar. Nondinee is a light take on contemporary urban relationships.

Bioscope-e Bajimaat

It was a memorable, chilly evening dedicated to 90 years of Bangla cinema on 22 December. The Tee Lawn in RCGC was sparsely filled at 6.50 pm, both the small general arena and the expansive VIP arena. All were waiting for Bioscope-e Bajimaat - the film quiz on the history of Bangla cinema, organized by Ananda Bazar Patrika and contested by film personalities - to start (Read my earlier post Bioscope-e Bajimat countdown). It was indeed the first-of-its-kind in the city.

It started at about 7.30 pm, precisely late by an hour, in true-blue Bengali tradition. Mir, the main emcee for the evening, appeared on stage and said "Byapar-ta jome gechhe" (He actually referred to getting frozen in the biting cold). He called on stage Gautam Bhattacharya, a senior journalist from Ananda Bazar, known for his verbal skills and knowledge of trivia, to introduce the celebrity pairs who would sit for the contest. The teams were Rituparno Ghosh-Indraneil Sengupta, Srijit Mukherji-Gargi Roy Chowdhury, Rituparna Sengupta-Parambrata Chattopadhyay, Prosenjit-Roopa Ganguly, Sandeep Ray-Sabyasachi Chakraborty and Aniruddha Roy Chowdhury-Ananya Chatterjee. Rituparno's long earrings, Prosenjit's Bengali look complete with dhuti-panjabi-shawl and Anyanya's short white dress were noticeable. Roopa looked elegant in black westerns.

Gautam did the prelude on a funny note by engaging Mir, the quizmaster for all the rounds except the last (the rapid fire round, to be hosted by Gautam), into answering googlies. "Which lady in the industry Rituparno doesn't address in tui?", "How many times has Supriya Devi uttered 'Apnader Dada' (referring to Uttam Kumar) till date?", " In how many Artist Forum meetings attended by her, Roopa Ganguly hasn't wept?" flew some of the deliveries, catching Mir off-guard and having the crowd in splits. Well, the answers are 'Bijoya Ray', '34738' (Mir got it right according to Gautam) and 1 (Only in one AGM Roopa wasn't seen weeping ever).

As the quiz started, the competition gradually shifted between Rituparno's, Srijit's and Aniruddha's teams. Some of the questions were pretty interesting, while some were too easy for the contestants and some others plain ridiculous. For example, a) In the picture round, where each team were to find out someone’s name from a still shown, Parambrata’s team got it as easy as to tell the person’s name from a photograph of Pulak Badopadhyay, the noted lyricist and b) In the audio-visual round Sabyasachi’s team was asked to tell the name of the saree that was in Bipasha Basu’s hands in a footage from Shob Choritro Kalponik. Even Rituparno, the director of the film expressed ignorance for the answer, terming it a bad question. The question was changed as Mir also thought it was a little unfair to ask. As an instance of a really interesting question, the footage of the ‘Peters’ fan TVC from Seemabaddha was shown and the name of the film was asked.

The buzzer round went haywire, with the rule being the buzzer could be pressed anytime to attempt answering a question, and Srijit kept on pressing it just after the photographs flashed on the screen and before the questions related to the photographs were asked (even after Aniruddha did it once and failed to answer the question). The risk was that if they answered it wrong they would lose 5 points, but if they could, they would score 20 points. Objections from other teams flew thick that no team should be allowed to press the buzzer before the question, but Mir stuck to the rules. Srijit-Gargi’s score shot to such a level after the round that no other team could catch up to till the end. Rituparno’s knowledgeability about cinema was well-known to all, and it obviously showed, but Srijit’s cinema quotient was found to be very impressive and comparable to the former. As obvious by now, Srijit-Gargi triumphed as winners with a superb all-round performance, followed by Rituparno-Indraneil and Aniruddha-Ananya.

Mir’s antics kept on entertaining the audience as usual. The highlight being, as he noticed that Indraneil and Rituparna never answered a question or spoke anything else on the microphone till the middle of the show, he made the two recite ‘Ba ba black sheep’, with each one saying the alternate lines. The funniest part was that even in this Indraneil needed Rituparno’s prompting. Mir indeed handled the show very well. Only a professional of his skill and quick-wittedness could handle so many celebrities on such a competing platform.

The contestants were cheered (even prompted sometimes) by many from Tollygunge in the audience, including Rudranil Ghosh, Kanchan Mullick, Saswata Chatterjee, Sudipta Chakraborty, Mithu Chakraborty, Kaushik Ganguly, Shayan Munshi, Subrata Sen, Aniket Chattopadhyay, Koustuv Roy and Moni-Shrikant. Arijit Dutta and Hiran came in quite late. The only put-off was that general audience sitting at the rear didn’t get to answer questions though there were 99 t-shirts to be own.

Saturday, December 25, 2010

Christmas cakes from Kathleen

While I was a child, Christmas cakes (or cakes per se) would mean Great Eastern Hotel bakery or Kathleen. Flurys was elite for us living in Barrackpore, a suburban town of Kolkata. That was not the age of cake shop chains, thus for good Christmas cakes one had to queue up at certain shops very limited in count.

Kolkata and its suburbs have gone through a major transformation meanwhile. Today Monginis as a cake shop chain has left Kathleen much behind. In savouries Monginis is matchless in budget category. And it makes decent cakes and pastries too, considering the prices (Though many may not agree here). The pastries from Kathleen never appealed to me, and its quite a few years that I last tasted a Kathleen Christmas cake.

It really sucks to be compelled to work on Christmas day, which stands as a 'cancelled holiday' this year in office due to some late development. But it was made partially good by the slices of cakes served to desk. And it was precisely because the double bonanza of the fruit cake and the plum cake, from Kathleen and Bisk Farm respectively, tasted yummy. Nice to know that Kathleen still bakes good cakes.

Friday, December 24, 2010

Arekti Premer Golpo - positive buzz

The buzz on Arekti Premer Golpo (Just Another Love Story) on Facebook is positive after yesterday's premiere ta Priya (Picture above). Rituparno's performance impressed those who've shared their take. Keenly waiting to watch the movie.

Picture courtesy: Rana Basu Thakur.

Thursday, December 23, 2010

Bye Bye Bangkok: First look

The first look of Aniket Chattopadhyay's (of Chhoy-e Chhuti fame) second movie - Bye Bye Bangkok - a rollicking comedy at the backdrop of Bangkok is out. One may spot this hoarding/poster in the city now. The movie, set to release in January 2011, flaunts an ensemble cast of talented actors, including some masters of comedy (Kharaj, Rudraneel, Kanchan). Watch this space for more.

Wednesday, December 22, 2010

Bioscope-e Bajimat countdown

Keenly waiting to experience Bioscope-e Bajimat - the celebrity film quiz organised by Patrika - the Saturday supplement of Ananda Bazar Patrika this evening at Royal Calcutta Golf Club.

The hook? The contest will be fought by actors and directors in six pairs. The list goes: Prosenjit-Roopa Ganguly, Rituparna Sengupta-Parambrata Chattopadhyay, Aniruddha Roy Chowdhury-Ananya Chatterjee, Rituparno Ghosh-Indraneil Sengupta, Srijit Mukherji-Gargi Roy Chowdhury and Sandeep Ray-Sabyasachi Chakraborty. Mir and Gautam Bhattacharya (Ananda Bazar sports editor who is well-connected with the film fraternity) will be the MCs.

To the best of my knowledge it is the first time at least in recent past that such a film celebrity quiz is being held in the city. The last time the local film industry celebs collaborated in a live show of this nature was the 'Directors vs Journalists' debate on the current state of Bangla cinema at Star Theatre in January 2009. It saw Aparna Sen, Rituparno Ghosh and Goutam Ghose coming together with Suman Mukhopadhyay and Prabhat Roy to take on the media. Yours truly was among the organisers. The battle was closely and very engagingly fought.

This one should be an interesting show of 'film quotient' of the industry insiders. Am particularly interested to see how Prosenjit-Roopa, Rituparna-Parambrata, Aniruddha-Ananya and Srijit-Gargi fare, being pretty interesting pairs. Shall come back with a first-hand account.

Tuesday, December 21, 2010

I Laugh You 2 kickstatrts

'I Laugh You 2' kickstarted last evening on Star Jalsha. The entry of Ranjit Mullick was funny. He danced into the stage to the tune of his hit song Jodi Jagai Madhai na thakto/ Tobe Netai ke ki chinto loke from Mouchak. Moon Moon had taken her entry first. She mentioned " Good concept, good producer, good people to work with..." as her reason to judge the show and come back to television after ages.

Neel Mukherjee, Rudraneel, Shantilal Mukhopadhyay, Partha Sarathi Deb, Partha Sarathi Chakraborty and Kousani Roy were among the participants in pairs. The show started with the act by Neel Mukherjee's pair where it performed a well-known skit. Kousani played a characted called 'Tunir Ma' in a TV show that 'officially' airs trash. There was no gem of an act though. Ranjit had a bit of reservation for an act that was on (or on the other side of) the borderline of decency by the older generation's standards. Moon Moon though was game and she let the audience know it, only after she pulled Ranjit's legs for his 'strictness' .

The marks scored by the pairs mostly stayed between 10 and 12 out of 20. So, though the judges are appreciative, they are not lenient in giving marks.

Monday, December 20, 2010

Koel's take on ILY 2

In continuation with my earlier post (The glam queen...) on 'I Laugh You season 2', now Koel's tweet informs that she was almost falling off the sofa as her Baba (Dad Ranjit Mullick) shared the shooting experience of 'I Laugh You 2' with the gorgeous Moon Moon Mashi (As she calls Moon Moon Sen). She must catch up the show that starts today at Star Jalsha. The curiosity level is rising.

Friday, December 17, 2010

The glam queen is back

It was another talk show on Star Ananda on 17 December to promote the second season of ‘I Laugh You’ – the laughter show on Star Jalsha that has done a coup this season by getting Moon Moon Sen and Ranjit Mullick on the panel of judges. The two have happened to be co-actors in the lead in a couple of Bangla movies. A visibly slimmer and gorgeous-again Moon Moon admitted on the show that she craved to be back before camera while she was off work for years, and it was Raima who had insisted she did this show. Well, that's good to know and interesting too as she has maintained all this while that she doesn't work as her daughters don't want her to work anymore.

But the best part of the show was Moon Moon’s wicked sense of humour hitherto unknown. She kept on pulling Ranjit Mullick’s legs and teasing the veteran actor with a straight face with comments like “Besides lovely skin and hair that Bengali women are blessed with, legs are an important part of a woman’s beauty….I don’t know though what you find worth observing in a woman” and “Women look beautiful when they are a little voluptuous, don’t they?”. That she is having a blast during the shooting of the laughter show was quite visible. Looking forward to watch the show that’s coming up on 20 December.

‘Just Another Love Story’

The keenly awaited Kaushik Ganguly film Arekti Premer Golpo (English title: Just Another Love Story) marking the acting debut of Rituparno Ghosh is releasing this 24 December. The film explores the relationship between a gay filmmaker (Rituparno) and his bisexual cinematographer (Played by the new pin-up boy of Bangla alternative cinema – Indraneil Sengupta), detaching itself from the homoerotic aspect of such a relationship. The film also has a film within it and Rituparno plays another role in it, that of the famous jatra actress Chapal Bhaduri, who was known to play female roles. Watched a talk show on Star Ananda on the film today, where Kaushik and Rituparno, both reasonably excited, were present to provide an insider’s take.

An anecdote shared by Rituparno was that he was mistaken as a 'newcomer actress' as long as he was in the get-up of his character in the film-within-the-film during the outdoor shooting in Bolpur. It was obvious that both he and Kaushik (and surely other members in the unit too) found it an uproariously funny experience.

As for the obvious question of the similarities between Roop (The character of the filmmaker that Ritu plays in the film) and Rituparno himself, Kaushik pointed out that the two persons share a keen sense of aesthetics and a single-mindedness in work. The former is an important trait in this context surely, as Rituparno’s sense of aesthetics is well-known, and quite obvious in his body of work. He is known not to like his actors to use make-up (unless and to the point it is necessary) and nonetheless his women on screen look strikingly beautiful.

Rituparno was a hard taskmaster to himself for a change and gave the role his very best, right from physical preparation (He lost a lot of weight through regular workouts) to the finest detail in look and acting. By his own admission in the show, he started missing Roop deeply once the shoot was over. Ritu is also the Creative Director of the film.

Arekti Premer Golpo is actually a screen adaptation of Kaushik’s famous telefilm Ushno Tar Jonyo starring Roopa Ganguly, Churni Ganguly and Chapal Bhaduri, made for ETV Bangla years back. The difference is that a lesbian relationship was at the core in the telefilm, whereas in the film it is a gay relationship.

The first look of the film (Similar to the picture above), showing Rituparno in a deeply emotional hug with Indraneil, has surely evoked curiosity. The film has already made a lot of news and repeatedly drawn housefull audience in a lot of places the festival circuit as the two revealed in the show. Keenly looking forward to the release of the film.

She's on Zoom

I was surfing the channels post dinner. A familiar face of an anchor stopped me. She is from Kolkata, and it was a national entertainment channel. Hence I checked the channel name again, more so as a similar sounding Bangla music channel has just been launched. Yes, it was Zoom. And the lady in question was Pamela Singh Bhutoria. A well-known model from Kolkata who has turned actress of late.

Pamela is tall, slim and dusky, with an appealing mix of charm and sensuousness. Being comfortable in Bangla, I always thought she had what it takes to make it big in Bangla movies. However, going by the realities of the Bangla film industry in Kolkata, it is not surprising that she is yet to be considered by a big banner despite being all over media and successfully anchoring TV shows on Zee Bangla and Sangeet Bangla.

In this age where every young aspirant in showbiz and music, who hasn’t got the right amount of work in Kolkata is testing the Arabian Sea waters, it seemed but natural that she wouldn’t stick to Kolkata too. Having a good command in Hindi and English has landed her at the right place. Zoom, no doubt, is a great platform to earn her valuable brownie points for a television career and who can say, may land her a role in a Hindi movie too. Pamela was anchoring ‘Hot List’ on Zoom, a show that listsed ‘Hottest desi numbers’ from Hindi cinema, from Madhuri Dixit to Rakhi Sawant to Aishwarya Rai to Bipasha Basu, somehing that naturally goes with her sensuality.

And by the way, Pamela has recently landed a role in a Bengali movie too (Under production), directed by young and talented Mainak Bhowmik, called Ami vs Tumi.

Tuesday, December 14, 2010

Ananya: the most searched

The blog stats showed an interesting insight: Ananya Chatterjee, the national award-winning actress from the city is not only the most-searched celebrity on this blog since May, 2010, her name is the 'Most searched keyword' leading to my blog during this period too! And no other keyword is even close to being comparable. The second keyword counts far less than even half of the count of Ananya.

Naturally the only dedicated post Ananya- the glam avatar has fetched the highest view among text-based posts during the said period.

When I first saw Ananya in a television series called Chena Mukher Sari years back, I found her acting skill impressive and thought she had potential. Mentioned her as one of the faces from television that deserves a big screen break in another post named Search for new faces in 2007 when she had hardly made a mark, having appeared in films like Tok Jhal Mishti, Raat Barota Paanch and Aamra.

Thus the insight is thoroughly pleasing indeed.

Monday, December 13, 2010

Moner Manush: A rocking weekend

Returned disappointed from Jaya Cineplex, Lake Town last Sunday. Had gone there to catch the evening show of Moner Manush which had gone housefull before I reached the ticket window. Blackmarketeers had a filed day nearby selling the Rs 50 tickets at Rs 100. It's unimaginable for this genre of films!

Reached the nearest theatre screening the movie - Darpana, at Hatibagan - in a hurry. But things were no different there too.

It was indeed a pleasant surprise as alternative Bangla cinema, that too with this kind of a subject (The life and times of the legendary Lalan Fakir from the 18th century, based on Sunil Gangopadhyay's novel of the same name published in the Desh Puja number in 2008) is not deemed 'hot' at the box office. Reportedly Moner Manush has a better second weekend. The word-of-mouth publicity seems to have helped. The audience predominantly had couples in their 40s and 50s - a class that's surely not regular at theatres anymore. Kudos to Gautam Ghosh & team to bring them back.

Saturday, December 11, 2010

The bonding over food

Post the workshop last weekend, and its emotional hangover the following Monday, a welcome change in the office was meeting over lunch for the senior and middle-level executives thrice a week including Saturday. For the foodies in the office, yours truly and the Branch Head included, nothing can be more cheer-worthy than sharing everybody's lunch (Home-made or ordered in). The range covering yummy, high-fat fast food to health food includes experimental home-cooked preparations.

As highlights of the first week, I loved the bites of grilled chicken sandwich and sips of the chicken sweet corn soup from Upper Crust (A fast food-cum-restaurant chain) ordered by a junior colleague in Marketing & Business Development. He picked up the idea of the combination after watching the lunch by the Chairperson and Managing Director who visited on Wednesday. Since that day he has been ordering the same everyday, conscious that his lunch budget doesn't permit it for one full month. The soup is lighter than the one served elsewhere. Also loved the innovative preparation of pieces of bread fried with capsicum, cooked by another colleague.

The workshop was about team-building among other topics, and such a practice indeed is a good application of the learnings from it. Bonding over food, I believe, is one of the best ways of bonding - both personally and professionally.

A wee bit of 'happy' concern as well: A foodie colleague, conscious of her bit of excess weight, commented that as this practice goes on, everybody stands to gain at least one kilo at the end of each month. Can't agree more as I share the concern.

Thursday, December 09, 2010

An evening out at Flurys

The visit of the Chairperson and the Managing Director to the Kolkata branch office after long lead to a refreshing evening with a senior and middle level team at Flurys yesterday. This was my first dining experience at the legendary confectionery shop-cum-restaurant from the British era at Park Street (Past visits were for takeaway). Chicken puff, chicken sandwich and egg mustard sandwich were ordered, apart from Darjeeling tea to wind up. The food was really heavy as evening refreshment. The Branch Head really missed its famous pastries not being a part of the order. The pastries enjoy a robust following even today in the city and among the 'informed' visitors. The old-world experience that is poles apart from today's plush cafes has a distinctive charm. Flurys definitely counts in a must-have Kolkata experience.

The chicken sandwich was good, and it tasted better with mustard sauce. But the puff was a put off for me. Nothing wrong with it as such, only that I don't like the way they make chicken puffs and patties. It's basically a mash and one can't get even small chunks of chicken inside. The Darjeeling tea was perfect, with its fascinating aroma. The Branch Head's suggestion was to have it without milk and sugar, so that the real taste and flavour can be cherished.

When it comes to savoury snacks in a cake shop, my recommendation is Cakes. It's chicken patty and chicken quiche can hook you if you have a tooth for savouries. Hope to come back with more on Cakes.

Monday, December 06, 2010

Images: Weekend retreat

Some images of Purna Laxmi Hotel mentioned in the last post (A memorable weekend retreat) and The Ganga as viewed from the hotel.

A memorable weekend retreat

Attended the office workshop over the weekend (Friday-Sunday, December 3-5) at Diamond Harbour. It took place in the newly built Purna Laxmi Hotel at the bank of The Ganga. A launch jetty is just a stone's throw. The view of the river from the hotel lawn is fabulous. One can watch the launches and cargo ships passing by throughout the day, with a rare glimpse of dolphins. It made for a wonderful setting for the evening drinks sessions indeed. The view was so tempting that we sneaked in a couple of minutes to the riverside at every break during the presentations. Catching the sunset over the river was at the top of wishlist of many. My room balcony also gave a straight river view.

The hotel is reasonably priced and looks good too, spread over a few acres with a pristine white main building and an annexe building with lots of open, green space. The landscaping is nicely done. The food is good in Bengali cuisine (Don't go for Chinese or Mughlai unless you feel for a change in taste). A special mention will go for the home-style alur tarkari they serve in the breakfast, the mutton curry that is not rich and the tandoori pomfret. A definite recommendation for a refreshing weekend outing.