All posts by wellnmed@gmail.com

The song of change

Murshidabad,WEST BENGAL / Rawatbhata,RAJASTHAN / Mumbai,MAHARASHTRA :

As her first single creates a buzz online, Shreya Ghoshal gears up for the next, which is based on thumri

The first rays of the morning sun pierce through tall cedar trees, swathing the Kullu Valley in a warm golden glow. Shreya Ghoshal runs into the woods with lilting notes echoing through the stillness. Her voice is as soft as the folds of her pink flowing chiffon gown and the music as rhythmic as the sounds of Nature. It is in this lush locale, her first single ‘Dhadkane azad hain’, that is racking up record views on YouTube, unfolds. From soothing green surroundings, she moves to croon on slopes covered in shimmering white snow and the melody melts your heart.

Shreya forayed into the independent music scene with the digital release of this song three days ago. The lyrics ‘Dhadkane azad hain, pehre laga kar dekh lo’ (you cannot put a curb on emotions), penned by Manoj Muntashir, seem to indicate her new-found free-spirited approach.

Individual expression

“This single is definitely a personal statement in creativity. After we recorded the song and shot the video, it felt good that I was able to make my choices. And what more can you ask for, when your colleagues and listeners back you wholeheartedly,” says Shreya, who has been into playback singing for the past 15 years, and is often referred to as the ‘queen of hits’.

“Ruling popularity charts is one thing, but it cannot match the satisfaction of collaborating with a like-minded team on a project of your dream,” she adds.

Among the many complimentary tweets that followed the launch, the one that summed up the current music scenario was by young singer-songwriter Armaan Malik. It said: ‘When mainstream artistes start supporting independent music nothing can stop us.’ To which Shreya aptly replied: ‘More power to independent music. Ab sach mein dhadkane azad hain’ .

Though Bollywood tunes continue to loom large over Indian soundscape, there has never been a better time than now for indie artistes. The Internet has been the biggest reason for this. Dedicated websites and online platforms have brought this culture to the fore. “The digital age has freed artistes from being dependent on recording labels. Reach out to listeners by just uploading your songs and enjoy as the clicks keep growing,” points out Shreya, whose incessant tweets keep her active on the social media. “It’s hard not to find me peering at my phone screen. I need to be connected to the world all the while,” she laughs.

With the resurgence of indie music in the country, great new acts doing a good amount of original work, and not just covers of western hits, have emerged. Collaboration and exchange are crucial to this young, vibrant musical order that is not bound by genres. So there’s a Shreya Ghoshal coming up with her own track or composer Amit Trivedi incorporating indie elements into Bollywood music. Or there’s a Carnatic vocalist Bombay Jayashri singing a film number and Karthik, crooner of many chartbusters in southern films, attempting a classical piece. The experiments may not work every time, yet the hybridity is exciting and allows exploring links between musical forms.

“Independent initiatives are not just about performance choices, you get to experience the versatility of music. This single has given me the chance to revisit my classical roots. With a childhood spent in classical training, there are subtle traditional influences. My next one, to be released in the next few weeks, is based on thumri. I am always excited about rendering songs with impeccable musical values, for instance, ‘Bairi piya’ from Devdas . I feel such compositions remain with the listeners, much after a film leaves the cinema halls.”

Non-film repertoire

After shuttling between studios and juggling hectic recording schedules, Shreya is now keen to draw up a repertoire of non-film creations to move beyond stereotypical compositions and find her own musical path. She refers to her teaming up with the inimitable Gulzar, music composer Shantanu Moitra and singer Shaan for the album ‘Gulzar in conversation with Tagore’, that released last year, as a major milestone. “It was something that I have always desired doing but never thought will happen. It was an experience that took me closer to my music. While interacting with Gulzarsaab, I rediscovered the romance of Tagore’s verses. It was like a homecoming since I hail from Kolkata. In Gulzarsaab’s translations and Moitra’s eloquent music, I understood the nuances of the lines as I rendered.”

The seven tracks, including the haunting ‘Shingar ko rahne do’, were not presented in the usual Rabindra Sangeet style, but with modern orchestration for a wider appeal. “The aim of this ode to the Nobel Laureate poet was to introduce the present generation to his works. Nothing can be more fulfilling for an artiste than being part of such meaningful projects that take music to newer heights. It is during such rare moments that you get to hear your inner voice — the soul song,” says Shreya.

source: http://www.thehindu.com / The Hindu / Home> Features> Friday Review / by Chitra Swaminathan / July 14th, 2017

Kolkata’s last surviving Chinese school set for 2nd innings

Members of the new managing committee most of whom studied in Pei May

Kolkata:

One of the city’s last Chinese schools that had closed down seven years ago has got a new lease of life. Members of the community in Tangra’s Chinatown are drawing up plans to reopen the institute that has taught Mandarin to at least two generations of Indian Chinese before the classrooms were padlocked in 2010 after the management committee was taken over by a Chinese businessman. The Chinese Tannery Owners’ Association has won the legal tussle and regained control.

“The sweat and blood of our grandparents and parents went into establishing the school so that we could learn the Chinese language and culture. When it was set up nine decades ago, the Indian Chinese community wasn’t prosperous. In fact, most were impoverished and earned a living from sale of leather waste. In our generation, we have not been able to create any infrastructure. It is our moral responsibility to look after the school so that future generations are not deprived of education,” said Chu Ying Wah, vice-president of the school’s new managing committee.

The three-storied U-shaped school building with a football field and basketball court sits on 3 bigha, 13 cottah of prime land in Tangra that developers have been eyeing for a while. With a cottah now selling for Rs 25 lakh in the area, it is a virtual gold mine waiting to be grabbed. Aware of the threat, the committee wants to restart the school from the next academic session, initially from KG to Class V, then till VIII before approaching the CISCE board for affiliation. “Students who get admitted next year should be able to sit for ICSE and ISC exams,” said Yeh Chi Yan, the president of the managing committee.

While restarting the school will be relatively easy, the committee is aware that convincing parents to admit their children in Pei May instead of an established English medium school will be a challenge. “Times have changed. It has to be an English-medium school that will be open to all. Chinese will be available as a second or third language but English will be the first language,” said Chan Yung Sheng, treasurer of the committee. Also, instead of Chinese and world history and geography that was taught earlier, students will now learn about Indian history and geography.

The school’s fortunes had begun to decline from the 1970s when the Indian Chinese community, embittered after being interned during the Sino-Indian border conflict in 1964, began to migrate. The population declined from 10,000 in the 1960s to 5,000. Another wave of migration in the late 1990s after the government decided to shift tanneries out of Tangra saw the population decline to 2,500. This apart, the school also lost out when another school — Grace Ling Liang — was set up and offered English along with Mandarin.

“At present, there are only 2,000-odd Chinese in Tangra. In the 1960s, the school had over 1,000 Chinese students. Now, there will be only a few. Most of the students will be non-Chinese,” said Chen Khoi Kui, secretary of the association as well as Tangra Chinese Youth Club. Such is the situation now, the committee may well have to appoint a non-Chinese to teach Mandarin.

source: http://www.timesofindia.indiatimes.com / The Times of India / News> City News> Kolkata News> Schools & Colleges / TNN / July 09th, 2017

3 Kolkata directors to be part of Oscar panel

Kolkata:

The Academy of Motion Picture, Arts and Sciences has invited 14 popular personalities associated with Indian cinema to be a part of its Oscar committee. Three eminent directors from Kolkata — Mrinal Sen, Buddhadeb Dasgupta and Goutam Ghose — are also in this list.

Incidentally, all three directors have never been in awe of the Oscars. Their names have been often associated with awards at Berlin, Venice and Cannes film festivals. Though highly respected in the art-house circuit of international cinema, none of them have ever won an Oscar or sent their films for consideration at the awards.

Dasgupta has never been known to have rated Oscars as the highest film event. “I have never been inspired by Hollywood. For me, Oscars has never been a benchmark for great cinema. I don’t remember aspiring for an Oscar either. Having said that, I must also mention that being invited to be a part of the committee is definitely a kind of honour for me. I have accepted the offer,” the director said.

Ghose shared that he was once the chairperson of the board that decided on which Indian film must be sent as the Oscar entry. “India produces a lot of films. Thus, we had sent a request asking if more than one film can be sent from here,” he said. Though Ghose insists that he has never been crazy for Oscars, he doesn’t have any conflict with this award ceremony. “Why just Oscars? I haven’t even craved for a Palme d’Or at Cannes. Oscar is basically an award for English language films released in the US. It is also true that some masterpieces have never got an Oscar. Even Alfred Hitchcock didn’t get an Oscar. Yet it is important to see that the academy is expanding and constituting a large committee,” Ghose said.

At 94, Sen is just a year younger than the oldest invitee (American actress Betty White). When TOI asked the director’s son Kunal about his father’s reaction to the invitation, he said, “I have mentioned it to him. He didn’t show any interest or curiosity. It makes little difference as he doesn’t watch films any more. Even when he was active, he showed no interest in the Oscars or the type of the films that compete for it. He didn’t even watch a lot of Hollywood productions. Therefore, I doubt he would have been too involved even if it happened years ago.”

Incidentally, Sen has once famously said, “Oscars didn’t make ‘Slumdog Millionaire’ a great film.”

“He preferred more serious films, not the crowd-pleasing ones that Oscars generally lean towards,” Kunal said. On being asked if Sen’s films were ever sent to the Oscars, Kunal said, “He preferred the European festivals. So, I don’t think he would have considered it, and I am not aware of any of his producers who did it either.”

source: http://www.timesofindia.indiatimes.com / The Times of India / News> City News> Kolkata News / by Priyanka Dasgupta / TNN / July 12th, 2017