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6 Characters in search of an author

Published @ Hindustan Times
The search is on There is hardly a new thing that can be said about the Indo-US nuclear deal. But the deal has shown new sides to those public figures whom we thought we knew well. Here they are, looked at through the post-nuclear deal tamasha glass: Manmohan Singh: After years of playing dumb -(or, at least, mumble) charades with both the Congress President and the Indian people, ‘I’m-a- Man’ Manmohan has suddenly received a double shot of adrenaline, which ought to…
By Sayandeb Chowdhury | | Tags: Politics | Read More

Ways of Seeing

Published @ Hindustan Times
Chidananda Das Gupta is an old-school film critic and thanks god for that. In Seeing is Believing, he brings into his analyses of cinema a rare rigour, without letting his scholarly text collapse into set-piece jargon. His ways of looking at Indian cinema are infused with the confidence of someone who knows his art well and can render it with unfailing insight. In this selected compilation of his writings over the decades, Dasgupta discusses Indian and Western modernity, Jungian…
By Sayandeb Chowdhury | | Tags: Book Review, Cinema | Read More

Last action anti-hero?

Published @ Hindustan Times
Call me Warne, Shane Warne Shane Warne dared — and won. Not many gave him or his team much of a chance in the Indian Premier League. But then, he won despite his reputation. And it would be fair to say that many weren’t even talking strictly about his professional rep. After all, Warnie isn’t the sort you’d describe as a gent in flannels. He’s a sort of buccaneer with his romps, his drinking, his smoking, his devil-may-care attitude, always…
By Sayandeb Chowdhury | | Tags: Sports | Read More

Power from the people

Published @ Hindustan Times
Switched off. Photo by Yogesh Pedamkar/Unsplash The word ‘power’ has evolved into two disparate but related meanings. The more banal of the two refers to the production and distribution of energy for industrial and domestic use. The other meaning, the favourite object of inquiry of philosophers like Friedrich Nietzsche, Hannah Arendt and Michel Foucault, refers to a complex mechanism by which authority is applied to help sustain predominance and strategies of exploitation. But the application of the second…
By Sayandeb Chowdhury | | Tags: Opinion, Politics | Read More

Driving across the USSR

Published @ Daily News & Analysis
It was the summer of 1956. No one outside the Eastern bloc had much of an idea of what exactly was going on inside the Soviet Union. The superpower was hidden from the Western gaze by the Iron Curtain. And it had to be checked out. With the help of lots of luck and some totalitarian whimsy, two Parisian journalists — Dominique Lapierre and his colleague and photographer Jean-Pierre Pedrazzini — got permission to travel to the heart of Soviet…

For those with a weakness for strange words

Published @ Daily News & Analysis
There must be many instances when the telephone, the photocopier or the computer refuses to comply with your basic requests. There may be nothing wrong with them, but they either ignore you completely or take the wrong order. Those hassled by such hostile behaviour from machines would be glad to have a word for it, and there is. Resistentialism. One might also like to know that there is a word called millihelen, a unit of beauty needed (at…
By Sayandeb Chowdhury | | Tags: Book Review, Language | Read More

Images of the great masters

Published @ Daily News and Analysis
Nemai Ghosh has been capturing well-known Indian artists at work for years now. But his favourite time was spent with Satyajit Ray, he tells Sayandeb Chowdhury It was in late 1967 or early 1968. Nemai Ghosh was deeply involved in theatre. He was also an observer of endless card playing sessions at his south Kolkata apartment. Ghosh was not a photographer by any stretch of imagination. Then one day, purely by chance, he acquired a fixed-lens QL 17 Canonette. And…
By Sayandeb Chowdhury | | Tags: Art, Photography, Profile | Read More

Two sides of a thin red line

Published @ Daily News & Analysis
All lines are drawn. Photo by Adrien Bruneau on Unsplash There has not been a time in Bengal’s history, at least in recent memory, like the past two months. The death of young Rizwanur, the violence in Nandigram, the sudden riots against granting residency to Taslima Nasreen — all have created a vortex of socio-political reactions that seem to have shaken up the arrogance of the ruling CPM and mobilised the crowds. One significant fallout of Bengal’s autumn…
By Sayandeb Chowdhury | | Tags: Opinion, Politics | Read More

Contrasts are stark in a global city

Published @ Daily News & Analysis
Saskia Sassen, Helen and Robert Lynd Professor of Sociology, Columbia University is considered one of today’s most respected urban sociologists and is known globally for her landmark research on transnationalism, denationalization and the impact of globalization on the movement of labour, capital, and urban life. A prolific author, Sassen’s recent books are Territory, Authority, Rights: From Medieval to Global Assemblages and A Sociology of Globalization. In Mumbai to present the Urban Age Award, she speaks to Sayandeb Chowdhury about Mumbai being a…

Gandhi was a most remarkable man

Published @ Daily News & Analysis
Indian political leader Mohandas Gandhi circa 1935. In 1938, 23-year-old Phillips Talbot was sent to India on a fellowship to learn about British-governed India. An American Witness To India’s Partition is a collection that springs out of his experiences in India and the subcontinent between 1938 and 1950, chronicling the build-up to the independence of India and Pakistan, and the early experiences of the new states. The book was released in India in an event organised by Asia Society in…