The flavour of Kolkata

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

Tuesday, December 24, 2013

City in winter

Wanted contributions on the theme in the heading from the Facebook group of this blog and from a few friends (incl. virtual friends) . This was the first to arrive. Loved the essence that it captures- Bengali's obsession with monkey cap as soon as winter arrives! Underlines the thoughts that the 'photographer by passion' puts in his craft.

By Kanad Sanyal

Here's one more by another friend that I thought of putting up. Just picked it up from his Facebook wall. A new resident comes to Park Street in place of an iconic resident.

By Rana Basu Thakur

Monday, December 23, 2013

The annual dining out

We all knew the annual dining out from office is going to score a hat trick at Barbeque Nation. But it changed to Flame n Grill- the place where we first relished almost an entire meal with starters (unlimited kebabs, that is!).We are going to Flame n Grill Mani Square this year in the last week of December as our annual ritual, the day we keenly look forward to throughout the year.

Asked for an opinion, I voted for Flame n Grill, though I love BBQ Nation a lot. Here's why: 1. FNG's fish kebab has an edge over the one BBQ N's, and 2. FNG beats BBQ N in frequency of service (at least that has been the experience twice at the now non-existent Flame N Grill Park Street).

Friday, December 06, 2013

Jatiswar: the poster on social media

Liked this poster in the Facebook community of Jatiswar (the Srijit Mukherjee film slated for a 20th December release) and made it the wallpaper of my workstation, something I am habituated to. It drew attention of a few younger colleagues, who were unanimous that Prosenjit was looking impressive and convincing as a European. I agree. Shared a brief of the movie to the curious audience.

Monday, December 02, 2013

Ashchorjyo Prodip: a micro take

Loved Ashchorjyo Prodip. Compact and precise, with an optimum length of two hours. Well made in all departments, with good performances lead by the superb Saswata as protagonist (This proves his mettle yet again as a dependable leading man, given the right role).

Anik has evolved from Bhooter Bhobishyot, as was expected of him (Considering the film could be better in some aspects). He can now be counted among the best in Tollygunge.

Not only one can relate to it, it does make one think and look back at life.

Audience has also lapped up the film as evident in leading plexes holding on to four shows in third week, including three in prime time.

Hoping to come up with a full-fledged review.

Friday, October 25, 2013

Ashchorjyo Prodeep: the poster

Liked the just revealed poster of Ashchorjyo Prodeep, after the interesting teaser, shared in an earlier post (click here to read). It's Anik Dutta's next, set for a November release, after the landmark success of Bhooter Bhobishyot in 2012, and is a 'Story of a modern day Aladdin, set against the backdrop of contemporary consumer society' as the makers are putting it.

Monday, October 14, 2013

Pujo 2013

It was a washed out Nabami evening (13.10.13), but it couldn't do much to puncture the pandal-hopping spirit of Kolkatans! Went to south Kolkata proper with family and regretted it because of the awful weather. But came back with memories of some very creative Pujas, where Badamtala Ashar Sangha tops the list.

Here's some Pujo moments captured by friends:

Sreebhumi Sporting Club (Photo: Sanchayan Ghosh)
Not for the Tanishq jewellery reportedly worth crores on display, it's the sheer beauty of the idol and the overall presentation that gets a thumbs up. Worth the wait of more than half an hour (on Ashtami, 12.10.13) at countless points to the pandal.

Outside a pandal (Photo: Sanchayan Ghosh)
Tridhara Sammilani (Photo: Sanchayan Ghosh)
Pandal ceiling (Photo: Sanchayan Ghosh)

Optical magic at Badamtala Ashar Shangha  (Photo: Sanchayan Ghosh)
The gastronomic side: Prawn batter fry and fish fry at Maddox Square
 (Photo: Rana Basu Thakur)

Saturday, October 12, 2013

Mishawr Rawhoshyo: the take

I read the novel long back in the Anandamela Puja number. I don't remember the story. A cine file friend said that it was not the kind of Kakababu story to be filmed.

Well, after watching the keenly awaited Mishawr Rawhoshyo, I do agree with him. It is one of the reasons why the movie lacks pace, especially in the first half. The length of 2 hours and 30 minutes could be shorter by at least 20 minutes.

Kakababu looks and conducts himself the way he should, in 2013. He uses tablet PC, high end mobile phone and tweets, all convincingly. Prosenjit looks good in the contemporary get-up. Only the hair colour, I felt, didn't gel with the persona of Kakababu. If covering grey hair was the reason for the character, I would say that Raja Roychoudhury would have looked better with salt n pepper hair.

Prosenjit, acting-wise, is decent in most parts, especially the silent moments. His Kakababu is smart yes, and has the right dose of gravity, bu talks a little too much for effect and reacts (verbally) a little sooner, often resulting in not getting the comic timing right. The cerebrality of Kakababu could've been better developed.

I couldn't like Devdan's Santu, one of the key reasons being his affected Bengali accent. The age (on the higher side), is fine, but all the contemporary changes are not convincing. The innocence is missing too.

The songs are mostly forced, though well-written, composed and sung. The Delhi song was unnecessary. The fast motion used in showcasing Delhi also didn't work.

The movie has been shot well. The visual design, especially in the Egypt portion, is outstanding. It doesn't feel like a Bengali movie at all in this portion.

The brand placements are fine, but Amez tea is Hani Alkadi's favourite Darjeeling tea!!

One of the high points of the movie is Indraneil. His Hani Alkadi, physically and vocally, with the ruthlessness and conviction, is spot on. And he outdoes Prosenjit, to be honest. The characterization demanded an actor like him and he does full justice to it. What also deserves a mention is weaving in his character in the current political scenario of Egypt.

Definitely a watch for all the Kakababu fans, but do set your expectation at a moderate level.

Saturday, September 21, 2013

Mishawr Rawhoshyo: Coundown begins

The trailer is impressive, as I have mentioned before. And now as the promotion is rolling, with less than three weeks before it hits the screen- the ABP Ananda chat show with Srijit and Prosenjit, music launch on the grand platform of celebration of Prosenjit's 30 years in the industry and the first posters dotting the city- all eyes, of Kakababu fans and others, are on the Saptami release. Here's the trailer. Would love to know your thoughts.

Tuesday, September 17, 2013

Tuesday, August 27, 2013

The new offering from Monginis

Monginis has a new addition to its menu- Baked Pudding. Visited the outlet at Bentinck Street yesterday, that I often go to, and spotted it in the shelf of savouries. Only a few pieces were left and a customer recommended it to his companion while having one. After finishing my favourite fish envelope (which has made a comeback after its recent replacement with fish manchurian, which didn't taste success), I got it to round off the evening snacking on a sweet note.

Loved the taste. Tasty pudding topped with cashew and raisins. Finished it in tiny bites, relishing every grain. And then packed the last two left for boss and a colleague. A filling size just at Rs 20!

I simply love pudding, and getting it off the shelves in a chain like Monginis that's never too far from you, is just wonderful. Would definitely like an encore soon.

Tuesday, August 20, 2013

Kolkata Titbits 0003

  • Loved the khichuri with beguni and papad that the boss, in an exceptional rainy day mood treated to in lunch. It was brought from a high-selling street-side stall on GC Avenue. Had this street delicacy after ages, and loved every bit of it. All this comes at just Rs 18! Incredible!
  • Going by the rains today, won't wonder if I see/ get to hear about people travelling by boats on the roads tomorrow. Boss is warning for some time to pack up. So...

Saturday, August 17, 2013

Kolkata Titbits 0002

  • As Boss ended the first week on 15th August with a whooping Rs 3.2 cr (as per Reliance, the producer), it was interesting to follow an exchange on Twitter between Reliance, Rana Sarkar (its production partner for some of its Bengali productions) and Venkatesh Films- the biggest production house in Tollygunge- on whether this is the biggest first week collection in the history of Bengali cinema as claimed by the producer.The challenger claimed that it's their Challenge 2 which is the biggest so far with 3.8 cr, followed by Paglu (3.6 cr) and Dui Prithibi (3.5 cr, also from their house). The jury is still out on it.
  • It was a delight to see Lake Mall opening after a painful wait of 8 years, on 14th August. At times I thought whether it would ever see the light of the day in 10 years or so. It is the first PPP venture of KMC in markets that matured (The others being the 'partially opened' Barnaparichay in place of College Street Market, Lansdowne Market and the aborted Park Circus Market). Among mentionable brands it has a Big Bazaar (so proper south Kolkata finally got one!). And a multiplex- Sun Cinema- is starting around this November (giving the close by Priya some competition). For people in the area so far the nearest quality multiplex was at South City Mall. It will be interesting to see how the big brother of single screen- Priya - takes on the competition.

Friday, August 16, 2013

First look: Mishawr Rawhoshyo

The first look of the eagerly awaited Santu-Kakababu movie made by Srijit Mukherji was revealed earlier this month. It instantly took me back to my teenage when I would wait for the Sharodiya Anandamela, especially for the new Santu-Kakababu novel by Sunil Gangopadhyay. The illustrations by Subrata Gangopadhyay would enrich the reading experience. The cretaive has been done precisely in that style to bring back that nostalgic feel. The teaser design, with no mention of Kakababu, and only his crutch showing is interesting indeed. I even tweeted my thought on the first look to Srijit, who retweeted it.
Mishawr Rawhoshyo is one of my favourite Santu-Kakababu stories. The setting in Egypt is its key attraction (which probably made Srijit pick it as the first among the three novels he wishes to film, with the other two set in jungle and hills respectively). 
The trailer, released on Sangeet Bangla later stoked the fire. It gave the real feel of the fascinating adventure in the land of pyramid. The film has indeed been mounted on a huge canvas, and look-wise compares with a Hollywood adventure. Indraneil is playing the sinister Hani Alkadi, with a bald and clean-shaven look. Prosenjit looked perfect as Kakababu (and the best so far, compared to Samit Bhanja in Sobuj Dwiper Raja and Sabyasachi Chakraborty in telefilms). He has the right age to play this legendary character, which is a hot favourite of Bengalis, besides Feluda and Byomkesh. Santu has been played by Devdan, who is a known face on television and was Prosenjit’s son in Chawlo Paltai.

Needless to say, I am following the run-up to this Puja release. Hope to come back here with more on it. 

Tuesday, August 13, 2013

Kolkata Titbits 0001

Here's my way to microblog, forced by my consistent failure to find time to blog, and the fact that I wanted to do it on KC, and not on Twitter. Shall try and make proper posts intermittently.

  • Jeet's Boss opened big at box office last Friday (8th August, '13). It  collected Rs 72.5 lakh to beat Dev's Khoka 420 (70 lakh) released two months back to set the record of highest first day collection for a Bengali movie. Dev's Challenge (2009) stands third with 68.5 lakh. So Jeet's now one up on his biggest rival and Tollygunge has some hot numbers to discuss.
  • Arsalan is finally opening in north Kolkata proper. After coming across a lot of speculation among colleagues, now I know the location is reportedly Fariapukur (Left, facing Sutanuti Junction). Learnt that the space is big and can be expanded later. Looks like it is set to rewrite biriyani history in north before this Puja.

Tuesday, August 06, 2013

The chocolate brownie in the train

Am travelling to Patna now. With boss and client. Since the train we are boarding (Danapur Express) doesn't offer neither a pantry nor picked up dinner, we helped ourselves packing food from the food plaza at old Howrah station. As I stood in a long queue at the coupon counter to pack 'anything I like' for us three, boss decided for sandwiches as that had a different counter bang opposite mine and had no customers. I love sandwiches. So I quickly decided for my variety (grilled cheese chicken sandwich) and was quickly told by the counter guy that it wasn't available. So the only option was to go for boss' choice- chicken mayonnaise sandwich (a reasonable Rs 45).  It was then that we noticed this new addition to the Monginis counter (from where we picked up the sandwich)- choco walnut brownie. Boss wanted that and I too was pretty eager to try it out.

The brownie turned out to be the highpoint of the dinner. Since the client finished food first (We shared the sandwiches and he shared home-cooked chowmein-chilli chicken), I offered him the brownie. It was he who spoke of it first, how he liked the mud cake like texture, the taste and the size (Pretty big for Rs 30, a familiar trait of Monginis). I took my habitual small bites off it once I was through with the 'main course' (The sandwich was good too).......and loved it. I silently agreed to the client on the mudcake bit- it was gooey indeed, rich and tasty. It was heavy too and made my otherwise light dinner well-rounded. Overall, the walnut-topped brownie was a pleasing experience (So much so that it brought me back to blogging).

The confectionery buffs will not probably keep Monginis' confectionery products up the ranks. But there can probably be little dispute that Monginis is the red hot favourite of the middle and upper middle class. Even those who don't like its confectionery will probably swear by it when it comes to a colleague's birthday. Well, I am pretty much a savoury person and hardly stand before the cake and pastry shelf in a Monginis shop. However I too agree that they don't do a wonderful job in pastries. But their products are decent and unmistakably deliver what it takes to hook its target customers- value for money. And this, over the decades, has been one of the keys to Monginis' success, as much as it is the constant additions and deletions in the menu. It always wants to offer its customers something new, better or both.

Monginis of late is adding items from the premium confectionery range- like chocolate mousse. The brownie is a continuation of that. I guess I will see this brownie in the shelf next time I am in the store at Bentinck Street, which I frequent from office. And yes, in terms of understanding the palate of the middle class, I find them spot on with this. It should score with their customers over any dry and crisp brownie (without undermining the one like that in Just Baked, I love it too!). But one would have to be in the right mood for having that kind. The Monginis kind suits the mood more easily. And yes, its also precisely double the size of the one in Just Baked, which costs Rs 35.

Saturday, June 22, 2013

The likely challenger

Looks like someone is on the rise to reach the highest sphere in Bengali cinema. And no prizes for guessing the name. Yes, finally Saswata Chattopadhyay seems to reach where he deserves to be - the league of lead actors in Bangla cinema - the space currently ruled by Prosenjit. In fact, he will be a challenger to the numero uno. There's a condition here but. C/o Sir, his yesterday release, where he plays the title role, needs to score high at the box office, following the footsteps of the huge applaud that his performance in the lead role in his last release Meghe Dhaka Tara  is generating.

That he is an actor of outstanding capability was not in doubt for some years now. But he was always meant to shine in a 'character role'. His 'Bob Biswas' in Kahaani changed all this, helped by his 'Haathkata Kartick' act that lit up the second half of the 2012 blockbuster Bhooter Bhobishyot. Around that time (or a little while ago) he was being considered for the lead roles thanks to years of consistent good work, that started with Bong Connection in 2006.

Besides C/o Sir and Meghe Dhaka Tara, he will be seen as the leading man in Anik Dutta's (of Bhooter Bhobishyot fame) Ashchorjyo Prodip, a satire on today's consumerist society (which, I have a hunch, will pay a tribute to Parash Pathar by Satyajit Ray, who has an ardent admirer in Dutta). And his portrayal of a police officer in Raj Chakraborty's eagerly awaited Proloy is also likely to consolidate his position as a truly versatile actor.

Saswata doesn't have the screen presence of Prosenjit, or the youthfulness of Parambrata, who is also doing the lead roles (thanks to Kahaani and Bhooter Bhobishyot again). Nevertheless he can rule the screen, on the sheer merit of his acting prowess. And if he finally reaches the top league, given the right opportunities, he will stay there for years.

Saturday, January 12, 2013

Nolen Gur-er Mishti Festival

Looking forward to visit the Nolen Gur-er Mishti Festival - the first of its kind sweets event organized by The Telegraph, to be held at City Centre Salt Lake kund area today and tomorrow. Big names Nakur Chandra Nandy, Sen Mahasay, Ganguram, Balaram Mullick, Gupta Brothers, along with Nalin Chandra Das, Hindustan Sweets and Surya Kumar Modak from Chandannagar will be selling their mouth-watering range of nolen gur-er mishti - the favourite seasonal variety. A bonus comes in the form of Rollick and Fresh & Naturelle who will be present with their innovative nolen gur-er ice cream. There's no entry fee. Kolkatans with a sweet tooth, take a note. 

A quick update: The festival has taken a rocking start (3.00 pm, 12.1.13)! Scores of visitors are coming in.

Monday, January 07, 2013

Review: Maach, Mishti & More

Cast: Soumitra Chatterjee, Parambrata Chattopadhyay, Raima Sen, Swastika Mukherjee, Parno Mittra, Shauvik Kundagrami, Rachita Chauhan, Anubrata Basu, Pamela Singh Bhutoria, Neha Panda, Pradip Mukhopadhyay and Anuradha Roy
Director: Mainak Bhaumik

The opening credits unfold with sketches of Kolkata, setting the mood for a light-hearted, enjoyable two hours with your popcorn. Maach, Mishti & More is a mint fresh urban romantic comedy set in the cosmopolitan Kolkata. Mainak’s third film tells the tale of the trials and tribulations in the relationships of three brothers in a joint family in an old house.

The eldest, Rahul (Shauvik), is an NRI based in US who chucks his high-paying corporate career to come back to his city with the dream to start his own restaurant (‘To cook for others’ in his mother’s words). Rony, the middle one (Parambrata), is doing well in a corporate job, earns handsomely, and struggles to meet expectations of his Marwari girlfriend (Rachita) from a rich family. Raju, or Raj, the third one (Anubrata), is a struggling actor who dreams of his big break in Bollywood. All of them love to spend time with their ‘Dadu’ (Soumitra), who believes in living life on his own terms and is at ease dealing with gen Y (He goes to his morning walk in cool roundneck tees). While Rahul and Raj are sorted out in their personal lives - Rahul has a settled and routine life with Rina, his wife of three years (Swastika), and Raj doesn’t date a girl for long - Rony is the confused soul. He is in love with Swati but not sure of committing to marriage. Each of them happens to meet a new girl and life takes a turn from that point. Rahul comes across June (Pamela), his friend’s colleague, who helps him in setting up his business. Rony bumps into Ishani (Raima), his college mate, now a yoga & reiki teacher and Raj meets Neha (Neha), with who his past two encounters were unpalatable, in a meeting set up by his mother to help her son in his career. Meanwhile Dadu meets Sunny, a college-going tomboy (Parno) in the local tea shop and helps him sort out her love life.

What is refreshing to see is that the women in Mainak’s film are , in varying degrees, confident, liberated, unapologetic for the right reasons and take their own decisions, yet are true to their feminine selves. The men are overshadowed by these stronger women, which reflects the changing equation of modern urban society.  Mainak takes a look at the idiosyncrasies of the Bengali and never stops short of having a hearty laugh at it. In the same spirit the film shows a young girl lighting up in the middle of the conversation with someone her grandfather’s age or a homemaker sharing a fag with her much younger brother-in-law. Going ahead, it treats the death after a life well lived with a song, rather than the familiar background score. Some moments of the film did remind me of Aamra – Mainak’s debut film.

The performances elevate the film, helped by apt casting, and taut script and dialogue by Mainak (with additional writing by Pratim D. Gupta, the maker of the last Puja release Paanch Adhyay. Everyone fits the bill for his / her part. Soumitra is superb as the old man of the family rediscovering life in his city of love. I have always wondered why none offered an actor of his calibre a role like this, breaking out of the stereotype he has been forced in. Neha (also one of the stylists in this film) is impressive as the kickass Neha driving bike with Raj riding pillion. Swastika is good as the bored wife thanks to an ever busy husband, and disgusted by the middle class practices in her in-law’s family on return from abroad, yet making an effort to win over her husband from the other woman. Though Anubrata is the natural choice for his role, he is just rocking as Raj representing gen Y. His telephonic conversation with a prospective landlord in a coffee shop is uproariously funny. The three leading men show fabulous comic timing. Ajopa Mukhpadhyay, the other stylist of the film, also shone in the small role as sister to her real life sister Swastika. Neha and Ajopa have done an equally good job in styling. Shauvik’s accent sounded a little too heavy though. And I wish Anuradha Roy (the mother) was given a better wig.

The sepia frames lovingly embrace the different parts of the old and the new Kolkata. They are perfectly complimented by the well-worded songs (by Srijit, Rituparno and others) put to hummable tunes by Neel Dutt and sung by Rupankar, Somlata and Timir among others. The title track, the one with Param-Raima and one with Anubrata-Neha are particularly good. Supriyo Datta has done a good job behind the camera. The editing job could be better though, the cuts in some scenes look a bit rushed.

There are minor glitches, like Sunny’s character could have been fleshed out a bit more to lend it a credibility that it lacks or the mother’s shock at her son’s return from abroad to pursue that silly dream being too mild. Rony’s frequently walking into Ishani’s ongoing classes and starting a very personal conversation also looks odd. But one is still able to set aside all this once out of the theatre thanks to the overall feel good factor.

Mainak said in his Calcutta Times pre-release interview that he sincerely believes he is a mediocre director who has a shitload of interesting stories to tell. Well, Maach, Mishti & More is indeed an interesting story, but it’s no mediocre work either. In fact, this is the best from Mainak. Go for it!

Saturday, January 05, 2013

Bengali releases to look forward to

The Bengali releases that I would like to watch / keep an eye on in this year is: Ashchorjyo Prodip by Anik Dutta, Meghe Dhaka Tara by Kamaleshwar Mukhopadhyay, Room No. 103 and Mahapurush O Kapurush by Aniket Chattopadhyay, Chorabali by Rituparno Ghosh, by Gaurav Pandey, Goynar Baksho by Aparna Sen, Mishar Rahasya by Srijit Mukherjee, Aleek Sukh by Shiboprosad Mukhopadhyay-Nandita Roy, Ganesh Talkies by Anjan Dutta, Abhishopto Nighty by Birsa Dasgupta, C/o Sir by Kaushik Ganguly and Kanamachhi and Praloy by Raj Chakaborty. The genres in the list have an amazing variety.
Special mention goes to Meghe Dhaka Tara – I’m extremely curious to watch Kamaleshwar’s take on Ritwik Ghatak’s life, Mishar Rahasya- Srijit’s take on the iconic Kakababu, Chorabali - Rituparno’s fresh take on Byomkesh Bakshi and Praloy- Raj’s take on the late Barun Biswas- the idealistic teacher known for his collective protest against the gang rapes in Sutia.