The flavour of Kolkata

The flavour of Kolkata
The bridge, the river and kids' play. Brilliantly captured by Sujay Kumar Das.

Tuesday, December 30, 2008

Whitewash

The recent recession has hit many in many ways. Executives contemplating a job switch have headhunters tell them to 'keep a little patience', others are no more dreaming of a 'cool' increment, companies are 'seriously' following cost control at all levels, malls are seeing less footfall, restaurants have less guests coming in etc.

At the same time the landscape is increasingly sporing an unusual colour- white. Thanks to the recession, corporates have axed their advertising budgets like never before in a long time and have dropped a large no. of hoarding sites. Those sites now sport the white colour flex with agency name and/ or contact numbers written on it. Hence instead of seeing more ads we are seeing a lot more mobile nos. So bad is the scenario that some outdoor agencies are even booking a part, generally half, of a site. That makes some sites amusingly look half white (with agency name, no.) and half colourful (with the advertisement).

Outdoor advertising gained a momentum over the past few years, increasing clutter in electronic media being one of the critical reasons. It lead to a lot more newer hoarding sites, bigger and bigger, on all main thoroughfares. In Kolkata EM Bypass especially saw a major rush by advertisers due to its location- outside the main city, thereby the visibility being more captive. But all that's a thing of the past now. One's view is consistently getting a jerk every other day in finding newly vacant sites wherefrom even last week Aamir Khan was looking straight making a point about a DTH service or a mobile service provider used to share one info or the other about its matchless service.

Monday, December 22, 2008

A 'fan'tasy coming true





Came across this intersting happening from the scrap of an Orkut fried. Ekhane Akash Neel, the mega serial on Star Jalsha starring Rishi Kaushik (He spells his name 'numerologically' touched Rrishii but) and Aparajita Ghosh Das in the lead, has given birth to a big and highly active Orkut community. The fantasy of 50 fans (off 504 members on last count) came alive on an invitation from Dr Kausani Sarkar of Tulip Nursing Home straight from the serial! Thanks to Kausani Roy, playing the doc, and a member of the community, the fellow members got the opportunity to meet the Ekhane Akash Neel team at the sets at Technicians Studio 2 on December 18. The fans met their favourite hero Dr Ujan Chatterjee and Hiya, aka Rishi and Aparjita and watched the shoot. Nothing could make a community meet more fantastic.

Pictures courtesy: Abhijit Das, a serious amateur photographer by his own admission.

Description (Top to bottom): The Ekhane Akash Neel community members with Rishi and Aparajita (Pink gown) in the middle, Kausani (in white) flanked by fellow community members, Rishi-Aparajita and Rishi signing an autograph holding a flower bouquet presented to him by the members.

Wednesday, December 17, 2008

The (proposed) next Feluda


After my last post Feluda 1 vs Feluda 2 on Sabyasachi Chakraborty's suitability as Feluda the thought of a better Feluda never slipped my subconscious mind.

It suddenly struck me as I was travelling in a bus on a Sunday. What about trying Rishi Kaushik as Feluda? He is young, has got the height, the physique and proven ability to act and charm the audience. All this apart he has the perfect cultured Bengali look essential for this legendary character so close to Bengali's heart. Thanks to his face he won't have to try hard to bring in the cerebrality Feluda requires. His hardworking nature will only help. Anyways he should make a much better Feluda any day than the ageing Sabyasachi. The rest depends on Sandip Ray.

Pour in your thoughts. Those who can't/ don't want to/ fail to post a comment may mail me at anirban48@gmail.com.

Monday, December 15, 2008

The Bengali paunch is in danger

'Paunch' is one single attribute unmistakably associated with the Bengali in many parts of India and also aborad. Marwaris are also in the same league, especially to a typical Bengali. But the difference is while a Marwari stereotype is a fat man with a big paunch, Bengali paunch comes in various sizes and the possesors range from generally healthy (with the paunch as the only odd part of appearance) to obese. The genesis of the paunch is in Bengali's legendary love for food that often overturns his concern for fitness (if there is any) and the fondness for sitting- at work or in 'adda' (prolonged casual chat) apart from other reasons.

Bengalis are reluctant, indulgent, fond, defensive or even proud of their paunch or others' paunches. Here's trying illustrating it with a few examples.

1. Pround of paunch: A man in his fifties is poked fun at his paunch by his sister-in-law ('Shali') whose husband is perfectly lean. The man retorts stating fortune is with those who possess a paunch (which is also traditionally looked as a sign of prosperity) and not with them who have a 'dog's stomach' (hinting at her husband).

2. Defensive: A healthy (and a little plump) friend who put on a lot of weight post his active university days remarked that he is dealt with importance because of his generous paunch when he negotiates for sitting space in local trains back home everyday. He would have been sidelined had he been lean.

3. Fond: A man in his late twenties in a decently paid job had lost weight (unintentionally) post his marriage. His friend's mother expressed her dissatisfaction over his weight loss ruing that his paunch had 'vanished'.

Talking of fondness, some have an extremely strange knack of patting their paunch like a tabla when they are happy.

4. Indulgent: A colleague had a just-noticeable paunch and was poked fun at it by his friends. But he genuinely thought gaining weight and growing a paunch had really improved his looks and would always smile away the moment whenever one pointed at it. He had caught Hepatitis and lost weight drastically. On his recovery he gained back all the excess weight. When somebody pointed out at his newly grown paunch as a result of the prolonged rest at home he promptly said 'but it was always there (before the disease)'.

Unless oddly big, a paunch is also looked at as a sign of overall health not only by the loving grandmothers, mothers and aunts but also by those hwo grow it.

As a dichotomy a Bengali also loves to point out at another's paunch and advise him to lose weight or just poke fun at it.

The talk can go on and on but will take it up on another day on an appropriate context. Let's come to the point now.

As reported by The Telegraph on top of front page earlier this month that a group of Indian medial experts led by Dr Anoop Misra, Head of Diabetes and Metabolic Diseases division at Fortis Hospital, New Delhi, released the new cut-off points of overweight citing that BMI (body mass index, calculated as weight in kg divided by square of height in metres)- the international measure of fatness, had to be tailored for Indians and international standards couldn't be applied blindly. As Dr Misra said, the revision was long overdue (also approved by WHO some time back) as Indians' predisposition to metabolic diseases is among the highest in the world and fatness is directly linked to it.

The new standards state that an Indian adolescent/ adult with a BMI upto 22 is normal weight. 23-25 is overweight and above 25 is obese. The international standard that is currently followed calls a person overweight only when he/ she is within 25-30 and obese when the BMI crosses 30. As per the new cut-off a person with a BMI touching 25 will need to consider drug therapy as obesity is a disease in itself and can invite a host of lifestyle diseases like diabetes, heart problem, hypertension, gall stone and even cancer.

This is genuinely bad news for the Bengali who thinks he is fit and in decent shape albeit a bit of a paunch. Take this case: a man of 5'6" (average height for a Bengali) with an average build weighing 67 kg carrying a not-so-noticeable paunch will seriusly need to lose weight to just leave healthily as his BMI is 24.

So all those proud/ reluctant/ fond/ indulgent owners of a paunch beware! Take a hard look at it, be a little sensible about diet and try and be a little more active. Else this perceived sign of health will start taking a toll on the health itself.

Thursday, December 11, 2008

Star goes a full-on Feluda



Star Theatre goes full-on Feluda with a tantalising fare of five shows a day this Friday (12 December) for the Feluda-crazy Bengali cutting across all age groups to feast on. The eagerly-awaited Tintoretor Jishu - the Hong Kong adventure of Feluda shows up at Star at 12.30 pm, 2.30, 4.30, 6.30 and 8.30 pm. What's more, the noon show and the night show have been priced less (Rs 40/ Rs 50/ Rs 60 compared to Rs 50/ Rs 70/ Rs 80 for the other three shows in between) to pull in the crowds.

The decision was fuelled by poor show of most of the four Hindi releases last week- Dil Kabaddi, Maharathi, Oh, My God!! and Meerabai Not Out and keeping the other eagerly-awaited Shah Rukh release Rab Ne Bana Di Jodi out of the scheme.

Am curious to see if this Feluda bet saves the day for the best theatre in North Kolkata.

Wednesday, December 03, 2008

The overlooked hunk



Rishi Kaushik made his debut on Bengali television a couple of years back in a telefilm produced by Indrani Halder, she playing the female lead. He looked impressive (playing a commando) right then, with potential for television and mainstream Bengali cinema too (given the right grooming and handling).

Years have passed by. Rishi has worked selectively on television. He has won many hearts for his sensitive portrayal of Indra, paired opposite Aparajita Ghosh Das playing his love interest Mohar, in the popular Zee Bangla soap Ekdin Pratidin.

It is beyond me why save for a few Bengali films like Riingo's 'Kranti' and Traun Majumdar's 'Chander Bari' he has been largely overlooked by the successful directors of Bengali mainstream cinema, who've rued in the media for the lack of actors with hero material i.e. goodlooking young men who can sort of act or can be made to act. In Kranti he played the dashing college baddie and brother of the villain Ashis Vidyarthi. In Chander Bari his character was not the lead and had a very traditional Bengali look. So his potential of being a frontrunner for the leading man's slot has been given a complete miss. Its more of a loss for the industry and the audience with a visible appetite for new heroes than his, I believe.

Hence this handsome hunk (having seen him personally at events I vouch for the words), instead of winning hearts of cinegoers giving his peers in hero-starved Tollygunge a run for their money, is charming the girls (and the women including mothers and aunts in all possibilities) as Dr Ujan Chatterjee, romancing Aparajita Ghosh Das again, in the soap Ekhane Akash Neel on the new Bengali entertainment channel Star Jalsha (Picture at bottom).

To cultivate him, visit his fan blog rrishiikaushikonline.wordpress.com.

Rituparno-Mir: Storm brewing among viewers

The Ghosh & Co. episode with Mir as guest telecast 16 November is eliciting excited response from KC readers.

The opinion is tilted in favour of Mir, and some have expressed disgust with Rituparno's way of conducting the episode, especially the perfectly prepared for verbal assault he made on Mir and the insult it caused.


To know more check the comments to the post Ghosh & Co. and Rituparno and Mir

Monday, December 01, 2008

Feluda 1 vs Feluda 2





The first phase of hoardings of Tintoretor Jishu, the latest Feluda flick announces 'Tintoretor Jishu is just coming'. And that takes me to the topic of this post. Yes, this has been an oft-debated subject. Which Feluda is better, Soumitra- the Ray's Feluda or Sabyasachi- the Ray Junior's Feluda of today. But I have restricted my thoughts to the physicality of the character.

Every Feluda fan worth his/ her salt knows his (Feluda's) physical attributes without what he can't be visualized. He is tall (6 feet plus) and well-built (Thanks to freehand exercises and yoga at home). I don't remember whether Ray ever wrote it expressly but Feluda is handsome without an iota of doubt (no wonder he has many a female admirer to his credit), and most importantly he is in his thirties. He never grew old after mid-thirties, something that was expected of such an iconic detective in Bengali literature.

I somehow came in terms with Sabyasachi in Bombaiyer Bombete, his first feature film as Feluda directed by Sandip Ray (Ray Jr). Things like the way he was rehearsing martial arts with Rajesh Sharma (playing Victor Perumal) or his style of shooting Rajatava hanging from the train (very un-Feluda-like expression) didn't go well with me......but still thought well, he is sort of okay.....if he is not then who.....there can't be anymore Feluda on screen then for this generation.

But Sabyasachi's appearance really shocked me in Kailase Kelenkari released last December. How could he even think of allowing himself to look like that? He was looking reasonably older than what Feluda can be accepted to look as and worse still....unfit!! A little pot belly showed on him and he was extremely ill at ease in the chase scene in the climax. In fact he looked downright funny in the dark profile shot in that scene. It was clear that he had been taking himself for granted as Feluda.

Though Sabyasachi is not in the best age to play Feluda, a dedicated regimen of working out under supervision and a right diet would have given him at least an acceptable physique and a younger look, with, importantly, the right postures for the character to take care of the physicality. Sadly, he is too lazy to do anything like that.

As for Ray Jr, he never got his Feluda right. Right from his first outing with Feluda-'Kissa Kathmandu Ka', the TV series on Doordarshan in the eighties antagonised the Feluda fans as it had the chubby and old Shashi Kapoor as Feluda. Hence Sabyasachi as he is now shouldn't be much of a problem for him. Also he has already defended himself by saying " aar keu nei" (There is none else (to play Feluda)).

Compared to Sabyasachi, Soumitra as Feluda, especially in Sonar Kella, was just perfect, physically and cerebrally. Well, he was Ray's Feluda after all. And Soumitra never took his look for granted. In his heyday he would work out regularly to maintain one of the best physiques in the history of Bengali cinema. Ray wouldn't have thought of someone like Sabyasachi in his nightmare even if Sabyasachi was from his times and Soumitra was not around. To understand this point the best, look at the photos again where Soumitra (in black & white) is from Sonar Kella and Sabyasachi is from Tintoretor Jishu shoot this year.

Wednesday, November 26, 2008

A dash of improvisation

The food stall at the Triangular Park bus stop (at the footpath at the park side), located close to Bake Club doesn't demand a second glance except for a few differences with its peers like that it serves the curries in white glass bowl and has chicken curry on the menu.

But its USP is more than what meets the eye. While it serves the regular lunch menu- roti, alur dum, ghughni, tarka, egg tarka apart from chicken curry, it has improvised on some of these items to have come up with egg alur dum (omlette mixed with alur dum, egg tarka style) and egg ghughni. These items are available at a little premium ( a regular half tarka (half a bowl in quantity)/ alur dum costs Rs 5 while their egg varieties cost Rs 9 each). It also serves chicken tarka: tarka with large chicken pieces.

The price is competitive but. The tarka comes at Rs 10 and chicken curry (with two large pieces) at Rs 20.

A man in his fifties, in half-sleeve shirt and barmudas, ever busy at the lunch hour, heats the already cooked ghughni/ tarka/ alur dum and adds freshly diced tomato, onion, ginger, chili and coriander leaves for taste. The roti comes from a different location carried by a boy in a few dozens in regular interval. The steaming food is served to the hungry customers predominated by executives waiting on the benches laid on the footpath. He more or less remembers the tastes & preferences of regular customers (Eg. someone does not want tomato and chili in his ghughni/ tarka). At times when he doesn't exactly remember the ingredients not preferred, he asks "Apnar jeno ki hobena?" (What all do you not want in your food, Sir?). His only colleague of similar age, in shirt and lungi, quickly beats the rotis between the palms to get rid of the wee bit of loose atta and serves the food on steel saucer with cut onion and green chili. The rotis just fly off the container.

Monday, November 24, 2008

Rituparno and Mir


The encouraging no. of responses on the 'Ghosh & Co.' post a little earlier (helped by my Rituparno Ghosh community on Orkut) got me do two things (apart from writing a comment to the 'Ghosh & Co.' post in the first place purely on assumption): a. Watch the repeat telecast of the Mir episode on Sunday 23 November at 5 pm (original telecast on 16 November) and b. Write this post.

Well, it seems the picture above was taken after the now-controversial episode was shot. At least Mir's apparently 'rehearsed' smile says that. And Ritu's smile is a happy winner's, after (verbally) bashing Mir to pulp just before. Just kidding!

The moot point is about the last 21 minutes of the show when Ritu's take on Mir's mimicry reached an uneasy point both for Mir, his admirers and others watching the show on telly. The core of it was Ritu's characteristically yet unusually strong argument to critique Mir's mimicry of effeminate people like Ritu (yes, officially, coming from Rituparno). The point Ritu drove home over and over again was that he was unaffected by Mir's take on him, due to his stature, a greater popularity and recognition than Mir and confidence. But the same may have really hurt many other effeminate people who might pretty well feel Mir was mocking them as well by taking Ritu as a subject.

Mir was so taken aback, as visible in the uncharacteristic surrender, that he shot an open letter in protest of his 'insult' in the show. The letter was reportedly carried in The Times of India the day after the show.

I personally felt that Ritu went a little off the hook probably for the first time ever in his talk shows as the matter was too close to his heart for comfort. Maybe the matter could be handled in a better way had he been able to be a little more objective.

On the other hand, this experience, insulting for Mir indeed as it happened before the audience of an already popular show, might nevertheless set Mir thinking when his anger settles down, and ask himself: doesn't he overstep (he did admit in the show that he does it 'sometimes') in general in mimicking people like Rituparno and Bappi Lahiri by the frequency of the act on his morning show on Radio Mirchi and other television shows he hosts/ has hosted and by the kind of other platforms he chooses (he routinely does it in the award functions he hosts)? I remember once during the last World Cup football he mimicked Bappi Lahiri by comparing his size with a football. Is that in good taste, Mir, or in good spirit, as you claim it to be? Can you ever interview Bappi Lahiri with a clear conscience?

The talk can't end here. There can be many takes. Come...pour your heart over this matter that can really create a storm in the tea cup- a Bengali favourite.

Tuesday, November 18, 2008

10:10






Arin Pal, the founder-member of Bangla Telefilm Club, is a busy man these days. Having started his first feature film as a director (after being the Chief Assistant Director in No Poblem, mentioned long back on this blog) middle of this year, he's already neck-deep into post-production of his next 10:10 (in Bengali, pictures above), a wacky comic thriller, which is releasing first, on 28 November. The movie made news big time as German supermodel Claudia Ciesla came to Kolkata a few months back to shoot for the film, keeping the city media busy for a few days.

Here's Arin in a freewheeling chit chat with Kolkata Curry.

Kolkata Curry (KC): So 10:10 is an officially 'different' film as "It is not a lift from a south Indian film...." as the website (www.1010-thefilm.com) says it?

Arin: Ha ha ha... True... Its different...


KC: Your first film 'Sabdhan Pancha Aschhe' (Yet unfinished) was also a comedy like 10:10. Do you have a flair for comedies or they are just happening?

Arin: They are just happening... Though its fun making comedies...


KC: What kind of a comedy is 10:10?

Arin: You can call it a non-sense comedy or a sattire even...


KC: How much is today's Kolkata integral to the story?

Arin: Very much... 10:10's story is very contemporary and socially relevant. But, its potrayed in a different way.


KC: You have an ensemble cast that includes a German supermodel (Claudia Ciesla). How did the casting happen, especially of Claudia?

Arin: The character was of an international journalist and it so happened that my producers knew about Claudia as she had done a film named Karma: Crime, Passion & Re-incanation in India. They suggested her to me. I got in touch with her. Sent her the story and script and she agreed after going through.


KC: Despite the fact that it isn't actually a small or even a medium-budget film, you haven't taken any star in lead cast. Didn't you feel the need for a star on board to pull the audience as it is your debut film?

Arin: No... Not at all... I think its the story and the script which is important... Stars give you an extra punch... But, I'm happy with all I worked...


KC: What would you like to say about the music? How exactly did you want it to be? Is music integral to the film?

Arin: Music... Drono has done a very good job... It's the way I wanted it to be... Yes, its an integral part...


KC: Is the item song blending well with the story?

Arin: May be... May be not... U see and decide...


KC: Bengali filmmakers haven't still woken up to the idea of making a website for promoting a film. How do you think the website will help the film? I must say it is pretty cool and the creative is pretty refreshing.

Arin: Thanks... Making a website helps the film reach out more to its audience... Also it hepls in marketing, publicity and PR...


KC: Lastly, best wishes from Kolkata Curry for 10:10 and tell us a few words about your next film (Mixed Mosla).

Arin: Thanks...... Planning in Jan'09... Produced by Morpheus Media Ventures Pvt. Ltd. Its another comedy coming up. Trust me... a mind-blowing script it has by Padmanabha Dasgupta. The story is mine. Keeping fingers crossed. CHEERS!!!

Monday, November 17, 2008

She......in a saree


Something common to Bengali women's talk is how a girl is looking in a saree. The girl in question is generally not seen in a saree. The range covers the next door girl to a corporate lady to a model/ film actress.

I remember a female friend commenting on Karishma after watching her in the 'Puchho jara puchho' song in Raja Hindustani: " She can dance well in a saree". So she had an edge over her peers, you see.

Priyanka Chopra in a saree in the 'Desi girl' song in her latest release (picture above) 'Dostana' looks, well....., R-A-V-I-S-H-I-N-G. Hope many of you agree. And she surely passes the Bengali test of looking good in a saree with distinction.

A delegate dinner with a difference

The 14th Kolkata Film Festival is on its last day today. As usual it has seen a couple of delegate dinners thrown in by distinguished businessmen of the city to acquire the prestige of the distinction of making it to the host list cleared by the festival authority.

The dinner hosted by Arijit Dutta of Priya Entertainments (best known as the owner of Priya Cinema, the iconic film theatre of South Kolkata) on 12 November was with some difference. For one, it was hosted not in a five star hotel, but in Priya Cinema itself, in its specious lobbies. He is too proud of Priya to host it anywhere else it seems. And then, the menu did make a noteworthy difference.

Everybody was welcomed at the gate by a warm 'Namaskar' by the Priya Entertainments team, sometimes joined by the Chairperson Purnima Dutta. The second floor, where the balcony is located, was converted to a bar-cum-dance floor with a DJ in action. A lavish Bengali spread was laid on the first floor (where the stalls are located). The menu, served by Ayojon Caterers of Bhowanipore, goes like this- Luchi (from a live counter), begun bhaja, chholar dal, alur dum, dhokar dalna, chhanar kalia, plain rice, bhetki paturi, baked chicken, kasha mangsho, chhanar payesh and hot pantua. Everybody was spoilt for choice, including the pleasantly surprised foreign delegates. The presence of media and trade was thick besides celebrities like Nandita Das (flanked by painter father Jatin Das), Jeet and directors Aniruddha Roy Chowdhury and Subrata Sen.

Sunday, November 16, 2008

Ghosh & Co.


Rituparno is back after years of his immensely popular candid chat show on Bengali television- Ebong Rituparno on ETV Bangla. This time on the new Bengali entertainment channel Star Jalsha in the avatar of wittily named 'Ghosh & Co' at 9 pm every Sunday.

The diference this time is firstly in the setting. Ritu loves a relaxed, 'Bengali adda-type' ambience set in a cosy drawing room with coffee and snacks for his chat show. This time to make it look more real, the title video shows him spending time with himself, preparing for the 'adda' and then receiving his guest(s) for the day at the door. During the conversation (he doesn't call them interviews, and the way they are structured, they are actually not so) tea/ coffee and snacks are served to the guests by domestic help, all recreated in a studio.

The other distinct difference is in his choice of guests. This time the guests are varied, not all of them exectly known for speaking well, and for some of them one really wonders what on earth made Ritu call them for the show. These guests include Bappi Lahiri (with below par oratory skill in any of the three languagues he generally speaks in- Bengali (his mother tongue), English and Hindi), Reshmi Ghosh and Sayantani Ghosh. Bappi loves to punctuate his talk with his songs, and in the one-hour show he must have sung few lines of about a dozen of his hit songs. However the selection of most of the guests does contribute to the show. The list includes Aparna Sen-Kalyan Roy (Aparna looking more gorgeous in her new short haircut), Shobha De-Dilip De, Mousumi Chatterjee and Babul Supriyo of those featured so far and Pritam (music composer in Hindi cinema), Nachiketa, Shreya Ghoshal and Mir among those coming up.

As ususal sitting through Ritu's chat show is a rich experience. He has awesome conversation skill. The way he makes his guests feel absolutely relaxed in order to get candid in the talk is worth special mention. Ritu's guests open up themselves, speak their mind, thanks to Ritu's inimitable style.

Looking forward to a long run of Ghosh & Co.

Friday, November 14, 2008

Ananda spreads wings

When reading and buying Bengali books is no more perceived a popular practice among Bengalis these days, and opening a bookstore selling story books doesn't sound like a sound business idea, a leading publishing house is gradually expanding its chain of retail outlets in the city and districts.

Ananda Publishers, not only the leading Bengali publishing house in Bengal, but also a thought leader for decades in publishing, is taking careful steps as it is expanding its chain. The sixth outlet in the chain (after three in Kolkata and one each in Siliguri and Santiniketan) was opened at Chandannagar, strategically placed at the crossing of Station Road and Bagbazar last week, on the eve of Jagatdhatri Puja, the biggest religious festival of the suburban town. Inaugurated by noted author Shankar, this 125 sq. ft. store stocks all the 2400 Ananda titles.

I, like many of my age have grown up on Ananda Publishers books that I've bought and borrowed from friends. Among many trends they set in the publishing industry are a) how raising the bar in production value of a book can add to its reading experience and thus can impact sales in a significant way and b) the art of a blurb on a book cover in letting the reader have a quick peek into the subject.

Ananda has always taken the marketing of books with a degree of seriousness unmatched by its peers. Wish its retail journey all the very best.

Thursday, November 13, 2008

A different Puja






Big FM, Kolkata's second largest radio station, brought some difference to the paradigm of organising Puja this year. Beside stationing their activities to potential and popular Puja pandals, they actually brought the 'Puja' to places where the nearest Puja is not so near.

A van with a float of goddess Durga and complete with all her sons Laxmi-Ganesh-Kartik-Saraswati, aptly named 'Dugga Gari', came to one day on each of all four days of Puja to a few localities who were game for such an experiment. Behala Parnasree had this incredible experience on Sasthi, Beliaghata Future of Bengal on Saptami, Sukanta Nagar Youth Centre for Culture & Sports on Ashtami and a Garia locality on Nabami & Dashami. The puja was done following the rituals and people offered 'Anjali'. The evenings were made colourful by Big FM RJs and crew who played games and did some fun interaction, apart from performance by Samayan, who won the talent hunt 'Sing with Sonu' last June to perform with Sonu Nigam in his concert in the city that followed soon.

The float was customarily immersed on Dashami and the crowed (including a healthy participation of girls and women) cheered and danced all the way to the ghat. This is proof how they connected with this Puja with a difference.

Overall, an experience to cherish a lifetime and something to say to 'Aaschhe bochhor abar hobe' (to come back next year).

Sunday, November 09, 2008

The humble amla reinvented


Amla was always available in dried, salted and spiced form among vendors in local trains from Kolkata. One of the leading brands was Vivekananda Ayurvedic Home. Quite a few years ago it started being available with the vendors raw, thinly sliced, in tiny poly pouches. They were avialble at a new, throwaway price point- just Re 1. Many people knew the health benefits of eating amla raw but never got themselves to buy and slice it. They got a readymade solution and lapped it up.

Then someone thought of 'product differentiation' seriously and came up with a preparation of sliced raw amla mixed with coriandar chutney, available at no premium- just Re 1 (In local train vending charging a premium is difficult. The competition is in giving consumers more value at the same price). The taste improved vastly and it sold very well. It possibly created a new market because so many passengers avoided raw amla as the taste did not suit them and went for the traditional dry amla. It inspired a trend among fellow vendors very soon as they followed suit.

Amla since then has come across another avatar- raw and spiced.

Just today as I was at Bidhannagar station to board a local train to Barrackpore to visit my parents, I came across another new avatar with a vendor- raw amla mixed with coriandar and ginger. Yes, at the same price. The taste was a little different from the coriandar avatar.

While all this is very good as the health benefits remain intact or increases with additions like coriandar/ ginger, it definitely is the passenger's gain, health-wise. Hence the experimentation is welcome.

A beauty


Watching Gargi Roy Chowdhuri judging 'I Laugh You'- a comedy talent hunt among actors competing in pairs on Star Jalsa makes me heave a sigh. Such an intelligent beauty is still being ignored by small screen. Her last appearance, I belive was years back in Abhijit Guha-Sudeshna Roy's 'Shudhu Tumi' opposite Prasenjit and besides Koel. It was a sensible attempt at mainstream Bengali cinema but couldn't pass the box office test.

Saturday, November 08, 2008

A value-for-money fry joint

On any evening opposite the footpath of Triangular Park bus stop, next to City Style (facing Rashbehari) one can't ignore the aroma. The crowd, covering collegegoers to young executives to the middle-aged, is seen wolfing down the hot delicacies and packing for home.

Fry Corner, the small joint serving fish fry, chicken cutlet (fried chicken), fish pakora, chicken pakora, fish roll, fish chop among others has a strong following among locals and outsiders equally. The prices are easy on pocket and the taste makes you asking for more. A fish fry comes at Rs 15 and a chicken cutlet at Rs 20. If the mention of prices makes one wink thinking quality please be informed that the fish fry comes with a generous filling of fish (and it is representative of all the items) covered by a crunchy, yummy crust. The mustard that is served with the stuff is really strong and add to the gastronomic experience. For the vegetarians it has recently started paneer cutlet (again a generous size just at Rs 10). A must try for every foodie.

Tuesday, October 28, 2008

The 'Chirodini...Tumi Je Amaar' phenomenon



When this poster was released, it indeed generated some curiosity. It was indeed a different-looking, smart Bengali film poster by mainstream standards and the focus being on the young pair, the heroine clearly in her teens.

But nobody had an inkling of what a first-time director from television (Raj Chakraborty, of 'Mirakkel' fame and some telefilms behind him) and a debutant pair (Rahul aka Arunodoy and Priyanka), again from television (They played siblings in a Rabi Ojha serial!!), can do. The publicity campaign didn't have big hoardings (at least in Kolkata) typical of a Venkatesh Films production. The city was splashed with posters with the above creative and maybe one more. The clever PR campaign focused on the fact that the story was inspired by the real life tragic love story of Rizwanur Rehman-Priyanka Todi that kept media busy a year back. All this did the trick. The movie opened unexpectedly big on 15 August 2008 and....is still going strong on in its first run to have become the first blockbuster of this year. Let me share with you what I liked in the movie extracted from my mail that was carried in t2, the daily tabloid with The Telegraph.

1. The refreshing publicity design by Gautam Barat...
2. The lead cast are two fresh faces who looked the characters.
3. The music by Jeet Ganguly. It rocks and that is quite unfamiliar of Bengali playback music. It has been lapped up by the youth.
4. The strong performance of Rahul. He's made the best of his big break. He definitely doesn't look like a conventional hero, but was cast due to suitability and acting skill.
5. Raj's treatment (which was quite realistic on mainstream standards) to a familiar storyline and the twist at the end that shook many. It requires guts to end a love story like that. Raj has mixed the masala really well to come up with a quality mainstream product.
6. The youth connect. The movie has worked big time, for a change, for the youth- both rural and urban. I've seen a long queue majorly made by young people at Mitra cinema on Dashami, which was its 8th week.
7. The performances by an all-television supporting cast. It only drives home what television actors, often overlooked in Tollygunge, can bring to the table.
8. The cinematography by PB Chaki. I've said it before also, we have enough top quality technicians in Tollygunge not to look elsewhere (Read South).
9. Last but not the least- a much realistic (eg. the toilet graphiti) and entertaining depiction of a bachelor's mess powered by some top-notch performances.

The movie that looks like having been made with a budget well below Rs 1 crore is making several crores at box office as the producer is laughing all the way to the bank.

Kudos to Raj Chakraborty, for finally thinking different with a strong script and execution in Bengali mainstream and Venkatesh Films for believing in Raj. We the Bengali film audience now has a director in mainstream who can make better mainstream cinema, appeal to the youth and smash the rural-urban divide.

Raj is already into his next called Challenge with Dev (with two hits in the last two years behind him at the beginning of his career) and Subhashree (the girl who broke into the big league with Haranath Chakraborty's successful 'Bazimaat' earlier this year after winning the talent hunt for a heroine by top Bengali film mag Anandalok). It will be a sleek action-meets-romance movie shot by Somak Mukhopadhyay, the cinematographer of Subhash Ghai's last film 'Black & White' and produced by Venkatesh Films.

Seemingly inspired by the Chirodini... Venkatesh has also started Jackpot by Kaushik Ganguly, an on-the-road refreshing love story with Rahul-Sohini (back after her impressive 'Bow Barracks Forever' act) and Hiran-Koel. Looks like Bengali mainstream is on its way to maturity........finally, powered by new-age directors.

Monday, October 27, 2008

RJs

While I find most RJs at private radio stations not playing their natural self, some being plain awful, including the best in the business- Mir of Radio Mirchi, there is one refreshingly different- Riddhi of Big FM. He's absolutely natural on air (and off it too, having encountered him in events) and connects well with his audience. No wonder his show 'Masti Ki Pathsala' is quite popular.

In events I've seen him do fillers between items where he mimics his office colleagues (not fellow RJs), sometimes they being present/ called on-stage, while the audience is in splits. A quality entertianer indeed.

Friday, October 24, 2008

Great to be back!!

Dear readers
I stopped blogging for a couple of reasons about a year back. It coincided with my switching job and that was one of the reasons.

Like some readers who were missing new posts on KC, I did it too, very very much. After all, it is my baby. But I thought like every good thing has a shelf life, so has KC.

But it kept coming back to my mind. And I was feeling the urge to blog again very recently.

So KC is going alive again. I must say I'm overwhelmed to see the enormous no. of readers KC has received over the last one year without a single new post. Now I know better than ever how much KC matters among lakhs of blogs worldwide.

Just one thing. KC now onwards, thanks to my present life, will be informal. There will be more small posts, may be more photographs (because photos say a lot), more humour (incl. 'tongue-in-cheek', my favourite genre), less talk on politics, much more on entertainment, especially cinema (where I am now, careerwise). It won't aim to be as informative as it was. One thing for sure- it will always seek to connect with its readers.

Happy reading.

Cheers
Anirban Halder
anirban48@gmail.com