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The loss and recovery of a city

Published @ The Bengal Post
Facsimile of published article A new exhibition on the visual history of Calcutta opens a large window to the heterotopia of itsglorious past and forces us to stand by it in awe, writes Sayandeb Chowdhury One only has to open one’s eyes to understand the daily life of the one who runs from his dwelling to the station, near or far away, to the packed underground train, the office or the factory, to return the same way in the evening…

There’s no record to disprove Bose’s death

Published @ The Bengal Post
It is time we understand that for a figure like Subhas Bose, there is no greater honour than to die in the battlefield in the war for freedom, insists Harvard’s Professor Sugata Bose, in an expansive interview with Sayandeb Chowdhury The setting of the large, airy, six-windowed second-floor room at Netaji Bhavan is doubtlessly the most fitting location for an interview of this nature. This room is directly above the room where he, the talismanic subject of our discussion, for…
By Sayandeb Chowdhury | | Tags: History, Politics, Profile | Read More

The incorrigible cheesiness of the great Indian hall of fame

Sarnath Banerjee, who pioneered the graphic novel form in India did commit one mistake. If not in his debut work Corridor, he kind of excelled himself in his second novel, The Barn Owl’s Wondrous Capers, a rollicking, lip-smacking, throat-bursting satire on babu life in 19th century Calcutta that was full of the clever, rip-roaring humour that Sarnath has made his own. Barn was loosely based on the mood of a seminal work on Calcutta’s low, colloquial life in mid-19th century…

The man from a lost world

Published @ The Bengal Post
Facsimile of the published article Amitav Ghosh is great hope for fiction in the 21st century and now, at the height of his powers, his influence is all set to grow bigger, writes Sayandeb Chowdhury Amitav Ghosh’s novels are an Olympian event; a peripatetic storm in the largely sterile cultural topography of this ‘city of lost causes’ as he calls Calcutta succinctly and appropriately. On his arrival, the city’s literati suddenly wake up to the possibilities of fiction, a possibility…

The city we call home

Published @ Bengal Post
Calcutta on a winter morning. Photo by author. After years of being on the wrong side of history, Calcutta must take advantage of the fact that similar political factions now govern the city, state and the centre, and press for a genuine make over, writes Sayandeb Chowdhury “Hüzün does not just paralyse the inhabitants of Instanbul, it also gives them a poetic license to be paralysed.” — Orhan Pamuk (Istanbul: Memories and the City) “Through the churning of work, the…

New and improved Tagore

Published @ The Bengal Post
Two of Tagore’s numerous endorsements. Rabindranath was not just pen and ink, but as Sayandeb Chowdhury finds out from a set of new exhibitions, a regular endorser of indigenous enterprise and a great believer in the potential of the moving images One problem with the traditional appraisal of Rabindranath Tagore, in which the Bengali community, the chief benefactor of the great man’s infinite genius, has usually regaled, is that such a disposition obliterates larger spheres of reception and cognition. Tagore,…

Narratives which make pictures move

Published @ Bengal Post
Poster of Satyajit Ray’s Charulata (The Lonely Wife, 1964). Auteurs of Bengali cinema has adapted Tagore’s stories to some of the most memorable films ever made, even if that meant going beyond the written text, writes Sayandeb Chowdhury While filming Inner Eye, his bio-docu on the blind artiste Binodbehari Mukhopadhay, Satyajit Ray is said to have asked his former teacher at Kalabhavan and the man he deeply admired for his amazing murals, what drives him to create works of such beauty…

The loneliness of labour

Published @ Bengal Post
Charlie Chaplin in a still from Modern Times. May Day is no more than a forgotten sentiment for the burgeoning-middle classes and whatever be the discourse of change in Bengal, the working classes are unlikely to find much mention in its political rhetoric, writes Sayandeb Chowdhury “Ten thousand times the labor movement has stumbled and bruised itself. We have been enjoined by the courts, assaulted by thugs, charged by the militia, traduced by the press, frowned upon in public…
By Sayandeb Chowdhury | | Tags: Analysis, Comment | Read More

The poet and his pasture

Published @ Bengal Post
Students surround writer Rabindranath Tagore (1861 – 1941) at his university, Visva Bharati, in Santineketan, West Bengal, India, 1929. Photo by E. O. Hoppe/Getty Images (Under copyright). Munich born Emil Otto Hoppé (1978-1972), German photo-portraitist, had by the second decade of the last century established himself as a photographer of repute. Having learnt painting under Hans von Bartels, Hoppé travelled to Paris and Vienna in the last years of the 19th century before he settled as a banker in London.
By Sayandeb Chowdhury | | Tags: Art, Feature | Read More

I always told myself that fame can wait

Published @ The Bengal Post
The name Manishankar Mukherjee was thought to be difficult to pronounce. So he changed it to Sankar. And the name stuck like a second skin all his life — as a lowly clerk, as the author of national and now international repute and a high profile corporate job as the CPRO of one of world oldest electric supply companies. But who was he who changed his name? “Noel Frederick Barwell”, came the reply from the other side of the large…
By Sayandeb Chowdhury | | Tags: Calcutta, Profile | Read More