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A divine version of ourselves

Published @ Bibilo India
In the autumn of 2017, Bengal, as usual, was abuzz with the seasonal cacophony of the pre- Durga Puja media blitzkrieg. There were advertisements pasted across streets and the media canvassed everything.One particular advertisement irked the born-again Rightwingers, who, in this province at least, seemed to have sprung from the woodwork. It concerned a leading salon chain headed by a Muslim entrepreneur. Its sweet, cheeky advertisement depicted the entourage of Durga and her wards making a quick visit to the…

It ain’t no revolution

Published @ The Indian Express
It is not about the Dolby stupid Multiplexes were never about choice. They are about business of film distribution. Your editorial position on the Maharashtra government’s decision to allow audiences to carry eatables inside movie theatres (‘Price of popcorn,’ IE, July 17) is singularly disagreeable. As a keen reader of your paper, if I offer a few points contradicting the editorial, I hope I will not overshoot my brief. The issue at hand is whether it was a worthy decision…
By Sayandeb Chowdhury | | Tags: Opinion | Read More

Mother tongue, tied

Published @ Business Standard
Photo: Unsplash/Merch Husey Mr Modi has confessed that his wax alter-egos understand him best, in his mother tongue of course, because he can talk at length without being asked fraudulent, Nehruvian questions Mr Modi has come straight from the Wuhan summit with the Chinese President, where he no doubt spoke in his mother tongue when he convinced the premiere to concentrate on dhokla rather than Doklam. Emboldened by his persuasive faculties, he came to Karnataka and straightway challenged the pitiable…
By Sayandeb Chowdhury | | Tags: Humour | Read More

Don’t Cry for the CPI(M)

Published @ The Wire
Red deluged. Photo by author. In Bengal, the party turned institutions into fiefdoms, just like the RSS now wants to make JNU and the government bureaucracy its own.  There is no reason to mourn the death of the Communist Party of India (Marxist). One did hear such laments after the Tripura results came last week. Some on social media and in newspaper columns asked the CPI(M) to introspect. They urged the party to ‘emerge again’ as the chief custodian of…
By Sayandeb Chowdhury | | Tags: Bengal, Politics | Read More

The contradictory Bengali

Published @ Biblio India
A bhadrolok is someone taken to be urbane and informed, with genteel manners and liberal political values, whose authority derives not from class or birth but from having attained a cultural referentiality through education and through participation in enlightened debates. Here, two books by two eminent bhadralok Bengalis are being reviewed by another – not eminent but self- confessed – bhadralok Bengali. Does this reinforce the self-assured, self-governing, self-congratulatory and hermetically sealed world of the Bengali bhadralok? It apparently does.

The Flaneur Outpaces A Tram

Published @ Outlook India
Calcutta — city of broken dreams and of crusty, magnetic charm. A young hack’s progress through its florid past and dented present winks at death itself. Having escaped certain death by a Nazi firing squad, the enigmatic French philosopher Maurice Blanchot dedicated the rest of his long life to understand how the act of writing itself can be the most assured insurance against the inevitability of death, of erasure. The Epic City reminded me of Blanchot’s pronouncements. In this book, with the…

Outrage over Jawed Habib ad is misplaced

Published @ Daily O
Durga as a homeless mother. Painting by Bikash Bhattacharjee Durga Pujo was never overtly religious. Moreover, the contempt of orthodoxy is a sacred responsibility of the secular public. The controversy regarding an advertisement in local dailies in West Bengal by the popular salon chain Jawed Habib has attracted some attention. The advertisement shows the retinue of Durga, her children and their vahanas visiting a Jawed Habib parlour to get decked up for their visit to the earthly domains. The illustration…
By Sayandeb Chowdhury | | Tags: Politics | Read More

The political economy of deceit

Published @ National Herald
Photo Sumit Chakraborty on Unsplash Modi’s India is a faith-based economy where all the apparent democratic means –principles of liberty, free speech and equality –are bartered for an autonomous institutionalisation of vacuous moralism. The eye-popping misogyny and vicious violence from the followers of the faith-based economic empire run by Gurmeet Singh at his Dera Sacha Sauda carries one strong lesson. It should draw our attention to the idea of what faith- divorced from logic, objectivity and accountability – can do to its…
By Sayandeb Chowdhury | | Tags: Hindutva, Politics | Read More

Stardust Memories: The Cosmopolitanism of Uttam Kumar and His Era-Defining Cinema

Published @ The Wire
Booklet of the unforgettable romance Saptapadi (The Seven Steps, 1961). On Uttam Kumar’s death anniversary on July 24, remembering the Bengali hero for the ages – the natural actor who won over generations with his charm and persistence. Sometime in May 1966, Satyajit Ray called Uttam Kumar. “Uttam, Nayak premieres tomorrow at Indira Cinema. I hope you will be there,” Ray reportedly said. “But Manikda, the press and public will be in attendance. Do you think I should go?…
By Sayandeb Chowdhury | | Tags: Feature, Uttam Kumar | Read More

Why is the BJP Communalising West Bengal

Published @ The Wire
People walking past destroyed furniture caused by riots on Wellesly St in Calcutta, 1946. Archival image. The BJP has long had its eye on West Bengal, because without it, its idea of a Hindu Rashtra cannot fully be realised. The political locus of Bengal is rapidly shifting. In early April this year, the BJP used Ram Navami – an obscure festival in the local calendar – to flaunt a toxic brand of Hindutva, arming the children and youth with swords…
By Sayandeb Chowdhury | | Tags: Opinion, Politics | Read More