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.