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A Letter to Modi Voters: If you had called the PM’s bluff, you could have spared India its agonies

Published @
Your silence gave him confidence, your conformism fed his conceit, your approval gave him wings. (Co-authored with Rajendran Narayanan) Dear affluent voters of the Prime Minister, We sincerely hope this letter finds you all safe. After all, we are all still mourning the deceased. But we were not actually supposed to be in the house of the dead. We were, after all, living our great dream, sequestered in the designer isolation of…

Aesthetic Enclosure and Insurgent Critique in Ray’s Fantasy Fables

Published @ Café Dissensus
1 Satyajit Ray’s Goopy Gyne Bagha Byne (The Adventures of Goopy and Bagha, 1969, hereafter Goopy Gyne)and the follow-up fantasy Hirok Rajar Deshe (In the Land of Diamond King, 1980) are two parts of a trilogy of fabular musicals for children.[1] Or so is what they have been mostly, if not always, remembered as. Ray had often felt that films for children made locally were unable to satisfactorily capture their imagination. More often than not, those films sentimentalized childhood, or treated them as part of a sealed…

In Search of a Gestalt in Ray’s cinema

Published @ Critical Collective
Satyajit Ray’s colossal presence in Indian cinema is in no need of commendation. His centenary is expected to further illuminate Ray as a storyteller, author, graphic-artist, publicist and illustrator. Despite sporadic efforts, the different manifestations of Ray’s work have so far been seen in segregation, refusing as it were, to probe into an omniscient meta-narrative that could have, undetected, informed his harvest. Are we only to contend then, with the different faces of a polygonal genius? Or is there in…

A made-in-India shock doctrine

Published @ Monthy Review Online
Photo by Monthaye/Unsplash (Co-authored with Rajendran Narayanan) How can this inequality be maintained if not through jolts of electric shock. Eduardo Galeano, Days and Nights of Love and War In The Shock Doctrine, renowned journalist Naomi Klein presents a searing account of how disasters were used as cover to steamroll market fundamentalism by authoritarian regimes in Chile and Argentina, among others. The title alludes to the practice of psychiatric shock therapy used in the early twentieth century. She calls this disaster…

In Bengal, an Impossible Choice

Published @ The Indian Express
An installation by Sudipta Das. Photo by author. West Bengal must choose between BJP’s tall claims, Left’s cluelessness and TMC’s governance by gamble. The elections in Bengal seem to have become something of a national pastime. I cannot recall a period when the national media has spent this much time pondering over Bengal’s future. This must surely be an anomaly. The word future in the context of Bengal challenges even the most resolute. The once-mighty Bengal’s perceived fall from grace…
By Sayandeb Chowdhury | | Tags: Bengal, Politics | Read More

Game on in Bengal

Published @ The Indian Express
An etching that puns on the Kali figure. There cannot be a three-way election in 2021. That would mean an advantage for BJP, as it will cannibalise on the factionalism in the TMC and on the irrelevance of the CPIM. The dictionary meaning of blunderbuss is two-fold. The more archaic meaning stands for a gun with a short, large barrel, to be fired only at close range. The second meaning refers to an action lacking subtlety and precision. Either…
By Sayandeb Chowdhury | | Tags: Bengal, Opinion, Politics | Read More

যে খেলোয়াড় আর তাঁর জনপ্রিয়তা — এক অবিস্মরণীয় ইতিহাস (Maradona – Icon of the global south)

Published @ Anandabazar Patrika
সালটা ১৯৭৬। বেঁটেখাটো শক্তসমর্থ একটি ছেলে। ১৬ বছর বয়স হওয়ার দশ দিন আগে ১৬ নম্বর জার্সি গায়ে এই ক্লাবে খেলার সুযোগ হয়েছে তার সম্প্রতি। আর্জেন্টিনোস। প্রিমেরা ডিভিশন। বুয়েনোস আইরেস। ক্লাবের ইতিহাসে কনিষ্ঠ খেলোয়াড়। জন্ম আর বেড়ে ওঠা ভিল্লা ফিয়োরিতো বারিয়ো নামে বুয়েনোস আইরেস-এর দরিদ্রতম অঞ্চলের একটিতে। অথচ ফুটবলের ভাষা তখনই এই ছোকরার নখদর্পণে। আরও একটা জিনিসের জন্য সে বিখ্যাত। নাটমেগ। অর্থাৎ, বলটাকে অন্য খেলোয়াড়ের দু’পায়ের ফাঁক দিয়ে বার করে তাকে বোকা বানানো। সে যে কেবল দু’বছরে ক্লাবের প্রধান ভরসা হয়ে…
By Sayandeb Chowdhury | | Tags: Sports, Tribute | Read More

Between a popular star and a keeper of everyday conscience: Uttam Kumar Profile – Part 2

Published @ Critical Collective
Uttam Kumar re-engineered the cultural economy of popular cinema in Bengal and went on to helm the star-era all by himself, marking it with over 200 films. A significant share of them added little more than numbers to popular cinema’s infamous logic of accumulation. But about fifty films have remained re-collectible in Bengali cultural memory, repeatedly seen, cited and recommended. This is an impressive number by any measure, which is further emboldened by the commercial heft of his films which…

The Enigma of Arrival: Uttam Kumar Profile – Part 1

Published @ Critical Collective
In 1951, a cartoon – Bengal’s Hero  appeared in the satirical periodical Achalpotro. The cartoon showed a waddling baby with the face of a struggling actor, who was seen holding within his embrace the neck of his much-older beloved, and uttering, with saccharine smugness,  ‘Dear, do you love me?’ The baby’s face was that of Uttam Kumar, about 25 at that time. In 1951, Uttam was working as a clerk at a Calcutta Port office and was moonlighting as a…

Uttam Kumar and intimations of immortality

Published @ The Hindu
Poster of Satyajit Ray’s Nayak In 1971, Satyajit Ray took his turn in defining what he means by a star. “A star is a person on the screen who continues to be expressive and interesting even after he or she has stopped doing anything.” This was as fair and ingenious a definition as any. But how long is that ‘even after’, one might want to ask. This is because the star in question is none other than Uttam Kumar, for…