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Cultural Press

Academy of social sciences

Published @ Daily News & Analysis
This year the Oscars look more like a line-up for Cannes’ The Palme d’Or or Berlin’s Golden Bear, which in keeping with Europe’s matured celluloid culture and modernist (or post-modernist) appeal, have a fetish for films with a political or psychological edge. Hollywood is exactly the opposite and as its most discernible collaborator, so is The Academy of Motion Pictures and Sciences. Assembly line production, simple, triumphant storylines that are uplifting and widely appealing, and profits have more or less…
By Sayandeb Chowdhury | | Tags: Opinion, Politics | Read More

Paying for free speech

Published @ Daily News & Analysis
The immediate reason for the publication of this book is the suggested amendment to criminal law in Britain, seeking to prevent any work from inciting religious hatred. Under this law, no work of art and imagination will be considered fit for public display or consumption if it makes comments deemed derogatory to any religion or faith. The resonance with similar issues in India is strong, but the comparison is not quite valid. Noises that violate free speech, part…
By Sayandeb Chowdhury | | Tags: Book Review, Politics | Read More

It’s sad to be still considered an outsider

Published @ Daily News & Analysis
His novel, Shadow Lines, had made Khushwant Singh exult, ‘this is how a story should be told, this is how a novel should be written’. Amitav Ghosh is now in the uppermost echelons of Indian writing and can confidently claim to be a world-novelist. His last book The Hungry Tide won the Hutch Crossword Award in 2004 in the best Indian English novel category. He was in Mumbai recently to announce the shortlist for this year’s awards. Sayandeb Chowdhury spoke to him about his novels,…
By Sayandeb Chowdhury | | Tags: Interview | Read More

My game is red

Published @ Daily News & Analysis
File picture of Nano The only inspiration for the opposition in Bengal is CPI(M)’s flawed past The game of realpolitik involves a hidden streak of the unsaid and the unuttered, which does not show up on camera in two-second bites. But certain historical junctures bring to the surface those fault lines and ironies. The Singur and Nandigram issues have all the makings of a conflict that can force open those fault lines in Bengal. There is no certainty that anytime…
By Sayandeb Chowdhury | | Tags: Opinion, Politics | Read More

Between Chappell and the Chatterjees

Published @ Daily News & Analysis
I wept for George the Best It is not easy to walk the streets of Mumbai and not feel guilty about being a Bengali these days. Sourav Ganguly’s exclusion – and then, inclusion – in the Indian team has assumed political proportions – so much to question the myth or reality of a nation-state like India that has to negotiate many other furtive nation-states turning sides within itself. It has not been long since I have arrived in Bombay and…
By Sayandeb Chowdhury | | Tags: Sports | Read More

Imaging Istanbul in shades of grey

Published @ Daily News & Analysis
Reading Orhan Pamuk is no more a literary activity. Given the range of controversies that he’s surrounded by, Pamuk is almost a political figurehead, perhaps much to his dislike. He has found mention in the long list of the world’s foremost public intellectuals; his name allegedly caused the delay in the announcement of the Nobel Prize for literature; and most importantly, he has been booked under a controversial Turkish law for ‘revealing’ that his country was responsible for…

Feasting from dusk to dawn

Published @ Daily News & Analysis
Photo by Habib Dadkhah/Unsplash We have heard about Fleet Street in London, the media hub that spawned so many stories. But meat street? Across much of urban Arabia, there are food streets where pieces and pieces upon meat of various shapes and sizes are piled, in various hues, smelling of the ‘mystic’ East’s typical flavours, hung on iron hooks dangling from intertwined ropes in dusty bazaars. For a month in autumn, Mumbai’s otherwise nondescript Mohammed Ali Road swipes…
By Sayandeb Chowdhury | | Tags: City, Food, Travel | Read More

A day of cricket, pulp fiction and other sundry ideas

Published @ Daily News & Analysis
The bars fill up the day before. Oly Pub, 2009. Photo by author. Last Wednesday I walked into a popular pub in Kolkata. Olypub, as it is commonly called, was packed with customers by the time the twilight gave way to the neons. It was too early for the regular bench grabbers — the usual office crowd. So what was the occasion? A man approached me, guessing my perplexity. He whispered, ‘they are stacking for the bandh tomorrow.’ That was…
By Sayandeb Chowdhury | | Tags: Politics, Satire | Read More

A requiem for Kolkata rickshaw…

Published @ Daily News & Analysis
A typical Calcutta day. Photo by author. The city’s cobbled roads may not hear the twinkling sounds of the iconic human carriage anymore… If a loss is just not personal, if the loss is just not about war, if the loss is historical and cultural, the abandonment of the handheld rickshaw is a loss for Kolkata. Because, with the alabaster memorial erected for a dead queen, the living, sweating rhythm of a weary rickshawallah pulling his cart through the…
By Sayandeb Chowdhury | | Tags: Nostalgia | Read More

Fiction that Sought to Define a Nation

Published @ Daily News & Analysis
Few works go beyond the obvious and remain entrenched in the history of a people Does it ever happen that a single book defines an entire nation? In its sweep, in its expanse, in its narration or its intent? Maybe only rarely. The ancients had a vision which, simply put, was epic. Nations merged into narrations and narrations defined nations. Iliad, Aeneid, Mahabharata, Divine Comedy – literary coliseums – in front of which generations stood, dwarfed and awestruck. But not anymore. The idea of a…
By Sayandeb Chowdhury | | Tags: Feature, novel | Read More