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The shifting strand of Pottertown

Published @ Hindustan Times, Kolkata
Lion in the making. Kumortuli, Calcutta. Autumn of 2009. Photo by author. Kumortuli’s fame is in its transience. Like the Spring Flower, it bursts into activity, fame and business for no more than three months in a year. Only that it does so during autumn and not spring. But in that short span, it enjoys a lot of attention. Or so has been the case for the last two centuries or so. So much so that over the years, Kumortuli…
By Sayandeb Chowdhury | | Tags: Art, Festival, Travel | Read More

Where the goddess meets the river

Published @ Hindustan Times, Kolkata
Idols coming into form. Kumortuli, 2009. Photo by author. The journey to the confluence of Ganga and Durga was a throwback to the collective past, finds Sayandeb Chowdhury and Joyjit Ghosh Chhalat chhal chhalat chhal chhalat chhal Ghater sathe golpo kore nadir jal (Splish‘n’ splash splish‘n’ splash splish ‘n’ splash The ghat hears the river’s tale go back‘n’ flash) The best person to ask about the ancestry of the ghat-river rendezvous would be the visiting goddess because the ancestry…
By Sayandeb Chowdhury | | Tags: City, Festival | Read More

Cause célèbre de Carnival

Published @ Hindustan Times
A Durga idol. Autumn, 2014. Photo by author. If there is one word to describe the explosion of gaiety amidst a wrecked urban landscape, it would probably be ‘flourish’, as Shakespeare used it. Writes Sayandeb Chowdhury. Shakespeare, otherwise so abundant with words and the magical incantations of poetry was, in keeping with the norms of Elizabethan playwriting and Globe Theatre conventions, severely frugal in matters of stage direction. Hence in many a Shakespearean play, after the entry of the principal…
By Sayandeb Chowdhury | | Tags: City, Feature, Festival | Read More

Day the city bares itself

Published @ Hindustan Times, Kolkata Live
A lane in North Kolkata. Photo by author Kolkata must bear the cross of being the centre of gravity of a political culture that only knows how to traumatise millions Through me is the way into the woeful city; through me is the way into eternal woe/ through me is the way among the lost people. …Before me were no things created, unless eternal, and I eternal last. Leave every hope, ye who enter! The dismal Situation waste and wilde/…
By Sayandeb Chowdhury | | Tags: City, Politics, streets | Read More

Screened Out

Published @ The Caravan
Why an evaluation of Bengali auteur Tapan Sinha is overdue “I do not know if Atithi, is my best film. But I enjoyed making every bit of it. Atithi is about an adolescent boy Tarapada whose wanderlust makes it impossible for him to remain bound by the ties of family, fraternity and fortune. He is an eternal guest — an itinerant, youthful minstrel. And Tarapada is none other than Tagore. Tagore was a mind-wanderer, and in his many works he has pined for…
By Sayandeb Chowdhury | | Tags: Tribute | Read More

Trading in Stocks

Published @
Bombarded with an endless rain of stupid kitsch every week, we have gradually come to expect very little of the Hindi film industry.That has meant that when Bollywood has churned just decent, watchable fare, we have risen in collective applause, we have stretched ourselves out of our balcony seats to show them how many bagfuls of gratitude we are ready to part with for giving us what is otherwise very basic fare. Madhur Bhandarkar’s cinema is a classic example of…
By Sayandeb Chowdhury | | Tags: Opinion | Read More

How the people lost in Bengal

Published @ Hindustan Times
A dock docked. Photo by Eric Gonzalez/Unsplash Nano has made a joke out of Bengal – a cruel, real, practical joke. The entire world was waiting keenly to see if nano comes out of the greenfield venture in Singur. And we know, well almost, that it won’t. Where it goes from here is secondary. But one thing is for sure. As the factory moves out in small parcels out of Singur, it takes away with it hope; that…
By Sayandeb Chowdhury | | Tags: Opinion, Politics | Read More

Before there was Mamata, there were those other chaps

Published @ Hindustan Times
Done deal. Photo by Minh Pham/Unsplash The Tatas have not yet made it clear if they are staying put or going from Singur. After Sunday’s ‘rapprochement’ between the West Bengal government and the Mamata Banerjee-led agitators, it seems that the Tatas will have to let go of a few hundred acres from the Tata Nano factory premises. But the 300-odd acres of land to be doled out to farmers who are against selling their land has turned out…
By Sayandeb Chowdhury | | Tags: Opinion, Politics | Read More

Room Service

Published @ Hindustan Times
Mani Shankar Mukherjee alias Shankar talks to Sayandeb Chowdhury about the jump he has made from being a Bengali bestselling writer to an Indian one The fear of becoming obscure after his first novel, Koto Ajanare (The Many Unknowns) haunted Mani Shankar Mukherjee alias Shankar. So what if it became an instant bestseller? “I was about 19 or 20 and had already fallen out with the mandarins of Bengal’s premier literary magazine where the novel was serialised. They spread the rumour that…
By Sayandeb Chowdhury | | Tags: Calcutta, Profile | Read More

Lonely traveller on the middle road

Published @ Hindustan Times
Poster of Tapan Sinha’s Kabuliwala, 1961. Tapan Sinha has been just happy making movies all his life, remaining more attentive to his childlike imagination and his attachment to literature rather than to laurels and recognition, both here and abroad. The Dadasaheb Phalke award given to him this week is just one more in his crown, and that too a belated one. In the mid-1950s, middle-of-the-road cinema was largely unheard in the catalogue of Indian cinema. The “art cinema” movement was…
By Sayandeb Chowdhury | | Tags: Homage | Read More