Monday, December 29, 2014

Raja'r Mrityu (Death of Yazdgerd) : Review of a play by SpectActors

Death of Yazdgerd written by Behram Beyzai , the reputed Iranian film director & playwright, is supposed to be a play as dear to Iranians as Death of a salesman is to the Americans. The play was written in 1979 , during the time the Shah of Iran was ousted by the Islamic revolution of Khomeini, but is set in the mid 7th century when the Persian monarchy of many centuries had been overrun by the invading Arabs & the Caliphates embarked on their reign lasting ,again, many centuries. Rajar Mrityu is the not only the first production of a Bengali translation   of Death of Yazdgerd in Kolkata but also the first production of the newly-born professional theater group , SpectActors led by Sudipto Chatterjee

Sunday, December 21, 2014

10 ways to improve Indian Soccer League as ATK lift the trophy in its first edition

Atletico De Kolkata (ATK) did themselves, their owners and their  fans proud by winning the first edition of the Indian Super League in soccer defeating Kerala Blasters by an unstoppable header-off-a-corner from Md. Rafique at the very last minute of the injury time in the final played at the  DY Patil stadium in Mumbai, today. The league that started ten weeks back with a pace, that hasn’t been seen for a long time in Indian football, slowed down in the middle and picked up again at the fag end . The final was a match appropriate for the occasion with some great shots, passing , movements & saves & the solitary goal. Although, without at all grudging ATK, led by Luis Garcia, their hard-earned trophy;  I’d say Goa FC should’ve been the appropriate winner of the league, going by their on-the-field formations and run-of-form in the last 4 weeks but they lost out in the semis in the heart-breaking penalty shoot-out, preparations for which appeared to be lacking in them. It’s now to be seen whether Indian players joining the local I-league lift up the games of their respective teams.
Sourav Dada Ganguly , part-owner of ATK , not only repeated his feat of scoring the maximum in his debut appearance,  reminiscent of his century in the Lords test against England in 1996, but had also made a coup of sorts by tying up with Atletico De Madrid , from the Spanish premier league, for a long-term association with  ATK  and the  development of the game at the grassroots.

Sunday, November 16, 2014

Goodbye to Langauge: review of a film by Jean-Luc Goddard

Decades back we'd queue up for a Goddard flick not to savor the layered meanings of his films but to watch unabashedly jump-cut images of naked women filling up the projector screens. Not that we were not interested in meanings but somehow they eluded us amid his multiple jump-cuts and his overt concern with material objects and the meanings thereof. The scenario hasn't changed since then although  there's no doubt that his movies give an insight into a very imaginative & boundary-less mind of their director.

Friday, November 14, 2014

Coming Home- Review of a film by Zhang Yimou

Today was the day of watching a Chinese film at the Kolkata International Film Festival and the only other time I’ve watched a full-length Chinese feature film , not counting the martial arts ones, was roughly 8 years ago in Hyderabad inside  a quaint theatre within the complex housing the LV Prasad Eye Institute in Banjara Hills. Coincidentally the director of the film was same, Zhang Yimou . Zhang is a multiple award –winning, much acclaimed  director. The film I saw in Hyderabad was Zhang’s third film , Raise the Red Lantern which was originally made in 1991.

Chambermaid Lynn- Review of a film by Ingo Haeb

Chambermaid Lynn is based on Marcus Orth's award-winning novelette. Its a story of an OCD patient who is obsessed with cleaning and of prying into other people's lives. For the first disorder , she has her job at an hotel as a chambermaid .  For the second , she preys upon her single hotel guests and tries out their personal effects & clothes till she reaches an extreme point where she secretly find's out a male guest's keen desire for sadomasochistic sex. A discovery that helps her seek her own limits of sexual pleasures , more pleasurable than uninvolved sexual liaisons with  her boss who trades sex with Lynn for covering up for her "misdemeanor" in her job. While the narrative is detailed enough to provide the viewer with an unbiased view into a deviant's mind  without being judgmental about it; its  the sound (or the lack of it) and the cinematography that captures the dramatic moments on the screen; be it a sudden slap on the behind after a long passionate wait or the dream sequence  with her lover.

Wednesday, November 12, 2014

Rob the mob : Review of a film by Raymond De Felitta

The 20th Kolkata International Film Festival has just started.  This year, I have bookmarked four movies from the festival website that are being screened in City Center & Purbashree. Was just in time to catch the first one today.

Rob the mob is a fictionalized version of the modern-day Bonny & Clyde story , albeit a true one, on the short lives of two ex-convicts  Thomas and Rosemarie Uva . The duo started off by sticking up a florist but got arrested . After their release they set upon an  idea of robbing "social clubs" of retired mafia bosses anticipating correctly  that victims will not call the cops.

Friday, November 7, 2014

Arindam fails to reverse the fortunes of either ATK or ISL:- An ISL match report on the ATK Vs.PuneFC match in Kolkata

ATK , short form of Atletico De Kolkata, was playing against the less fancied side Pune FC today at Salt Lake stadium ; their home ground . The result was widely expected to be in favour of  ATK, who had not only been sufficiently rested but was with their coach, Habas  and key striker , Fikru back from suspension.  Pune was riding high with their first win in their last match in the ongoing first edition of ISL, the Indian Super League.

The wings aren't exactly fluttering for the ATK captain , LuisGarcia

Although ATK had started with a bang in the tournament-opener against Mumbai FC winning it by three goals to none and followed it up with a win against North-East FC and Goa FC, they slowed down on the way drawing three matches  and relied on taking succor from a pretentious record of not having been beaten, yet.  Against Pune FC  today  ATK’s mid-tournament-game ended with a whimper when they lost by one goal to three. Although all the goals were spectacular (starting with Dudu's powerful opening goal from a header & followed in the second half by a mind-blowing long-range inside-step shot from Kosta), the game was largely sedate and often a display of listless  football .  ATK scored the only goal through a penalty after Pune FC’s goalkeeper, Arindam , lacking anticipation & sense of proportion, made a needless charge inside the box against the eventual penalty-scorer Fikru . With the score line at 1-2, ATK was expected to rise , shine and draw level  but they flattered to deceive with their brand of football and eventually let in the third goal through a David Colomba freekick from outside the box that managed to sneak through the legs of the wall past the valiant Shubashish under the ATK goal.

Thursday, October 30, 2014

11 everyday ironies

  1. The costlier the product , the lousier is its service.
  2. The louder  the promise, the lower is the probability of keeping it.
  3. The more things change, the more they remain the same.
  4. The bigger the ad-size, the lower is the sales.
  5. The more one gets, the less one gives.
  6. Lower the knowledge,  bigger is the lack of judgment. 
  7. Higher the education qualifications, the lower is the ability to take risks.
  8. Higher the inflation,  the lower is the growth of income.
  9. More the aspirations for peace,  larger are the conflicts & wars.
  10. Higher the money supply, larger is the inequality of income.
  11. Higher the sophistication of automation, the  dumber is the society.

Tuesday, October 28, 2014

10 reasons why ISL scores over IPL in Indian sports

A panoramic view of the Salt Lake stadium, Kolkata; one of the 8 venues for ISL
Indian Soccer League , ISL (abbreviation of India Super League) has just  commenced with much fanfare ,excitement and addition of  more-than-incremental doses of commercialization , professionalism and quality to the decades-old Indian national soccer league that had been long characterized by slow, mediocre games with very localized fan following. 
Eightteams are in fray in ISL with each team playing the other twice (home & away) in a group-format until four qualify for the knock-out stage in another 8 weeks. Eight key top world-cuppers & European League players who have quit the game a year or two back have been roped in as marquee players for the ISL teams along with existing players from the lower division leagues across the world. The format allows fielding maximum of 6 foreign players . Since majority of the players are from the European leagues (unlike the flood of second-grade Nigerians that dominated  Indian soccer for 2 decades); the game also has  acquired the pace & tactical flair of the latter.
A fortnight into the league, the games in ISL  have already picked up a new breed of fan following across the eight places in Kolkata, Delhi, Chennai, Pune , Kerala, Mumbai, North-east &  Goa. Interestingly these fans were so long monopolized by  IPL, the premier T20 cricket league & its association of film stars and entertainment. For sure ISL will have to compete with IPL for the sporting bucks of the fans and here are ten reasons  why ISL should have the advantage over IPL when the fans make a decision to open their purses.

Wednesday, October 15, 2014

Chotushkone (The Fourth Angle): Review of a film by Srijit Mukherjee

Srijit Mukherjee  , the ace film director from Bengal, not only ensures that he gives his benevolent producers box-office hits after hits but this time in Chotushkone  , he puts forth the tribulations & pains of producers in the Bengali film industry.  However boring that concept may otherwise be for the audience, it is entirely Srijit’s mastery of  craftsmanship that transforms an unappealing concept into a thriller of a movie.  However one still doesn’t feel emotionally beside the producer; even notwithstanding Trina’s (played brilliantly by Aparna Sen) tearful breakdown in the end.
Chotushkone is about the fourth angle , literally, although the excellent narrative sketches out not an angle but a  hidden perspective that unfolds dramatically,  after the triangle has been etched out to perfection , and finally goes on to engulf it.  Since Chotushkone is a thriller till the last of its 157 minutes it’d not be proper to go into the storyline except to say that powerful performances from stellar actors , whose real lives have been blurred with reel lives, make it  literally a thrilling experience to sit through.

Tuesday, October 14, 2014

Parody of Seventeens

Seventeens come and go
one after another
till there is one to show
and no sight of dear mother!
Three have been left behind
right in the beginning;
you'd know, that life has been kind
and what exactly I'm saying.

Friday, August 8, 2014

Just A Story series: JAS2: Lost & found (or Dream de la dream)

While crossing the Theater  road-Cathedral road  junction and  pushed by a large on-rushing crowd; I was guided past the junction into a deserted semi-lit street off it. I  found myself alone on a street looking at  what seemed like the closed-down Central Services Club (CSC) situated off Belvedere Road where most of my childhood evenings & Sunday mornings were spent. But then this was not the weed-covered dilapidated CSC building but a wide three storied palace of beige-coloured walls  and brown-coloured parapet-edges.

Sunday, August 3, 2014

Indian Table Tennis needs a fresh start

Indian table tennis failed to  flatter  at the ongoing Commonwealth games being played in Glasgow in Scotland. Like the earlier edition in New Delhi, 4 years back,  the men’s team lost the semi-finals . England beat India  3-1 and eventually lost to the reigning champion Singapore in the finals by the same margin. Subsequently India lost out the chance of retaining their bronze medal when they succumbed to Nigeria by again the same margin.
Sharath Kamal exults after defeating Drinkhall in the QF
The Indian challenge was led by the veteran paddler Sharath Achanta Kamal, ranked 44th in the world, who lost not only both

Thursday, July 31, 2014

Boycott all ITC goods

Its been nearly a month since the announcement of the general budget of the government of India announcing hike in excise duty of cigarettes by 11 to 72%. As usual cigarettes were selling in black nearly a week before the budget expecting the hike and now almost 3 weeks after the budget the disgusting practice continues. The government washed its hands off (after displaying their lack of imagination by listing taxes on the cigarettes as the first item in the national budget for  generating revenues) after presenting the budget while there is no announcement from the company ITC Limited , a near monopoly in the cigarette market, about its intention to raise or not to raise the prices leaving its own supply-chain partners ( the wholesalers, dealers & retailers) to make merry while the smoker puffs. If the Supreme Court of India couldn't find Narendra Modi guilty for not doing anything for three days while marauding rioters enflamed lives and houses in Gujarat in 2002; ITC is surely more than an arm's length away from the long arms of the law for not doing anything to inform the consumers about its position and location of fair-price shops to stop black-marketing. Their website gives no information nor are there any ads in the paper leaving consumers to suspect ITC the same way as they had suspected Modi nearly a decade ago of intimate involvement in the fracas.


কত সখা আসে যায় বাড়ীতে
কত নারী সুন্দরী,শাড়ীতে
ঢেউ এসে মুছে দেয় বালিতে
ফুলদানি গেছে ভরে ডালিতে।
তবু তুমি এলে আশেপাশে
মনমেঘে নাও  ভাসে;
ক্লেদ, সে তো সবই আছে
বয়সের জমা গাছে;
একটুকু ভালো লাগা, ক্ষণিকের সুখ
মন আলো করে থাকে তোমারই মুখ।

Tuesday, July 29, 2014

ছড়া , আগের মতো

আগের মতো ,

ইচ্ছে করে গল্প করি বসে ;

আগের মতো ,

ইচ্ছে করে উড়িয়ে দিই হেসে

Thursday, July 10, 2014

10 new things in Union Budget 2014

For a post-interim budget presented by the new finance minister of the new Indian government ; the speech may have been a tad lengthy bordering on being called 'dreary.' But the annual document has its own charm in communicating a sense of direction that the country's economy should charter carrying along with it the  political chatter from the minority opposition. Leaving it to the experts to make a sense of the large figures of receipts & expenditures , I intend to provide the readers ten new schemes & activities that the new government has earmarked in this year's budget even though the actual allocation in some of the schemes may have been paltry.

Wednesday, May 14, 2014

Bandhan : From a NGO to a bank - A success story in rural Bengal

Riddled with inflation, unemployment, corruption, falling growth and high Non Performing Assets (NPAs) of Public sector(PSU) banks; the Indian Economy hasn’t had much news to cheer about in the last 3 years excepting for some overheating of stock markets. On the redistribution front the marquee scheme of the preceding government, the Mahatma Gandhi National Rural Employment Generation Assistance (MRNEGA in short), has had problems of  low utilization & partisanship  in majority of the 28 states. One of the main way outs suggested was to increase the coverage of  PSU banks in the remotest corners of rural India to enable financial inclusion for the beneficiary community. The PSU banks have shown lukewarm response to such a measure adopted for the sub-prime market fearing large defaults. In some states the space not filled by the PSU banks had also been usurped by different ponzi scheme masterminds who have siphoned away the savings of millions of people. In this context; the approval of new banking licenses by RBI , as per the guidelines of the Vimal Jalan committee, has been granted to only two entities whose business models show promise for financial stability & inclusion. One of them is an erstwhile  NGO , Bandhan, which started off in 2001 with micro-financing activities in Eastern India complemented by developmental work in health, education, livelihood among the beneficiaries with the twin objectives of poverty alleviation and women empowerment.

Tuesday, May 13, 2014

Dispersed Radiance by Abha Sur - A book review

Western scientists , newspapers in the late 19th-20th century created through propaganda an European  knowledge-is-power brand that ascribed little credit to the works of Indian scientists. JC Bose , who didn’t seek a patent for discovery of wireless telegraphy due to his strong anti-commercialization stance, was overtaken by the Italian scientist Marconi who claimed title to its discovery although it was dated by more than an year of Bose’s. Even recent literature on history of Indian science , written by western authors, do not mention Raman, Chandrasekhar, Saha or Bose although standard physics textbooks will still have a chapter on Raman effect or white dwarfs and Saha’s ionisation equations.
Abha Sur, the author of Dispersed Radiance (published from Navayana)   looks at the impact of caste, class , gender on the history of modern Indian physics through the lives and works of two of India’s greatest scientists –CV Raman & Meghnad Saha. An interesting selection since Raman is a Brahmin, conservative , taciturn while Saha is a low-caste, active in politics & vocal.    

Tuesday, March 18, 2014

Ode to NOTA

When you decide to vote

You can refuse that note

-(or take it anyway)-

When the candidate gives them away.

Wednesday, March 12, 2014

Varanasi Diary, Day 6: Looking back with a smile

Monkey watching sunrise
5th March: Maybe it was a bit too much of the dehydrating whiskey we had the night before
or maybe it was the biological clock alerting the subconscious about the last day in Varanasi; but I woke up early at 6 a.m, freshened up and was ready for catching the sunrise from the balcony hanging over the Ganges. Enjoying a mild chill  in the breeze was one of humanity’s ancestors perched on the parapet of the dilapidated minaret to the left of the balcony.

Tuesday, March 11, 2014

Varanasi Diary, Day 5: The eternal flow of time on the banks of the Ganges

The timeless zone
4th March: By the time the sun peeked from behind the clouds around 6.30 in the morning today, it was shorn of its usual full-bodied glory and glare of its crimson-red hue. The clouds on the sky absorbed most of it while the crowds on the boats, all stretched in excitement for the early-morning boat-ride, kept the rising sun behind them to instead click pictures of the early-morning activities of bathers on the ghats as well as the old buildings that appear to jut above the mark where the ghats end. The bathers at the ghats counted the quick dips that they took at the steps. Some cried themselves hoarse shouting , “Mahadev, Mahadev (O, Lord Shiva!).” The cries appeared more to be pleading for Mahadev to appear rather than praying to him. Ganesh later informed me that the boatmen too cried out the same phrase whenever they were apprehensive of  colliding with another boat.

Monday, March 10, 2014

Varanasi Diary, Day 4: Music in the lanes & ghats of the city

3rd March: Ganesh & Deepak left early for a visit to Kalbhairavi & Kashi Vishwanath temples while I got busy in getting the room cleaned , the beds done and leafed through the Afternoon Raga by Amit Chaudhuri.
They arrived soon after with hot Jilabis and Alu-Parathas for breakfast along with  scary tales of being whisked through the Vishwanath temple from one panda (temple-usherer) to another, losing money at every step for a darshan (holy sight) of the Shivlinga and apparent salvation thereafter.

Saturday, March 8, 2014

Varanasi Diary, Day 3: Life on a Sunday and the middle path

Sunrise from the balcony
2nd March: Intending to catch the Surya-pranam at the ghats, we had risen early although by the time we could hit the ghats down the 36 steps of the Chousatti Ghat, there was clear daylight everywhere.

Friday, March 7, 2014

Varanasi Diary, Day 2: The city that lives for the dead

Diffused sunrise from the hotel balcony

1st March: The sunrise in Varanasi is supposed to be a spectacular sight from the Ghat side as the onset of activities among the populace starts with a Surya-Pranam (prayer to the sun god) at the bathing steps. We were not as lucky as the sky was still cloudy and the sun refused to appear although it did wash the area with light diffused as if from a bright ceiling-lamp. The morning started with a stroll down the Ghats and then up the stone-steps of Daswashyamedh , the holiest ghat, for the vegetarian breakfast at a road side eatery & down the same steps again for a stroll upto the Manikarnika Ghat where flames on the pyres have never ceased since the crematorium’s inception centuries, if not civilisations, earlier. Varanasi is considered among the frontrunners for the oldest city in the world dating back to 8000 years. Frommer’s travel-guide on India has a quaint quotation of Mark Twain on Varanasi. When Mark Twain travelled to Varanasi in early nineteenth century, he found the city “older than history, older than tradition, older even than legends and it looks twice as old as all of them put  together.”

Varanasi Diary, Day 1: Welcome to Varanasi

The mustard fields of Bihar stretch more than 200 KMs along the tracks
 28th Feb: Riding on an overnight train (that ironically calls itself a superfast express ) through Bihar while on the way to Varanasi in UP is an experience by itself.
Near an hour after midnight, a huge commotion woke everybody up in the reserved train compartment. A large group of  devotees was returning home on the Shivaratri night after offering puja at the Baidyanath temple, near Jasidih junction. Soaked and drenched in the pouring unseasonal rain outside; they entered the train , pushed, shoved & jostled  till they found themselves spaces to crash . At half past four in the morning when the train reached Patna junction, one could hear the repeated announcements that no train will be plying in the up &  down lines due to some “chakka-jam" (  a sit-in demonstration on the rail tracks) agitation called by the political party BJP. Eventually after waiting for 5 hours without food or water, the train moved again bringing smiles on the faces of harried passengers. Some among them were even happier when they noticed from the door of the compartment , the tall minars of their village mosque (or any other landmark for that matter) approaching as the train rattled through the mustard fields & unknown villages of Bihar. As the landmark was sighted, these  passengers merrily pulled the chain , got down hurriedly and walked back to their homes.

Saturday, February 22, 2014

Jaatishwar (Reincarnate): Review of a film by Srijit Mukherjee

It was a remarkable coincidence catching Srijit Mukherjee’s new Bengali flick Jaatishwar (which the director calls it “ A Musical memory”) on a day Bengalis worldwide commemorated the day in memory of martyrs who laid down their lives for their language.
Jaatiswar depicts, among many things, a musical history of Bengali songs in the late 18th century at a time when Kabial Gaan ( troubadours’ songs) was patronized by the feudal landlords through public contests.  Not much history of these songs is either archived or documented , as  elaborated by the Director in various interviews. And whatever little material did Srijit claim to have discovered through his research weren’t exactly  good enough to satisfy a music lover looking back & beyond the asphyxiating genres of Rabindra-sangeet (Tagore’s songs), Shyama-sangeet (devotional songs) , Bangla Bands and others.   

Tuesday, February 4, 2014

Indian Cricket needs new leadership

Right after a glorious victory in the world cup of  2011 , it was the golden "oldies" , except Dravid, who failed to deliver in England & Australia with Zaheer Khan also sitting out after an injury in the first test. Captain Dhoni returned to homeland with his men and boys without a single victory in the eight test matches played.