Category Archives: Records, All

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

Kolkata boy No.3 on AIIMS list, state trio in top 50

Kolkata :

When Tollygunge boy Tamaghna Ghosh quit IITDelhi to return home after only one semester in computer science and engineering, he faced a lot of criticism from family and friends. On Friday though, the same people were heaping praise on him after he stood third in the All India Institute of Medical Sciences (AIIMS) entrance exam. This is the highest rank secured by any student from Bengal in the past five years. Two other state students feature on the top-50 list.

“In 2016, I had 93 rank in IITJEE (Advanced) and took admission in IIT-Delhi. But when I chose to return, everyone apart from my parents criticised me,” said Ghosh. His interest in medical research prompted him to take the decision.

“The course at IIT would have given me a good career with a luxurious life. But that is not what I wanted to do. In 2016, my rank in NEET was not good and that motivated me to prepare well,” said the top-3 rank holder.

The 21st position was secured by Aranya Dutta, a student of Ramakrishna Mission Vidyalaya, Narendrapur. Dutta, an Arijit Singh fan, wants to become a cardiologist. “I was confident of doing well. But being 21st was beyond my expectations,” he said. Dutta, who stood seventh in the HS, said he dedicated eight hours every day for his preparation. ” Accuracy and speed are important,” he added.

On No.28 is Shivam Singh of Birla High School for Boys. “Consistency, revision of lessons and taking mock tests are my success mantra. I would suggest medical aspirants to study the NCERT books,” said the Belur resident. Singh wants to study neurosurgery and likes to play chess, watch comedy shows on TV and devoted five hours every day to prepare for medical entrance tests.

Apart from the three, two more names from Bengal are in the top 100. “For the first time, three students from the state will be joining AIIMS Delhi to pursue MBBS course. In the past, barely one student was able to crack the exam every three or four years,” said Sunil Agarwal, centre director of Aakash Institute in Bengal.

source: http://www.timesofindia.indiatimes.com / The Times of India / News> City News> Kolkata News / by Somdatta Basu / TNN / June 16th, 2017

Karate golds for township academy kids

(From left) Rishika Patra, Subhadip Srimani, Pratyay Sarkar and Ayushman Ray pose with their medals on the terrace of Premjit Sen’s academy in BD Block. Subhadip trains elsewhere, in Patipukur

Bengal has returned from the just-concluded Junior National Karate Championship 2017 with eight golds. The tournament, organised by Karate Association of India (KAI), was held at Talkatora Indoor Stadium in New Delhi from May 11 to 13. And of the eight gold medallists, half are products of Premjit Sen’s BD Block training academy.

Another gold might have got added to the tally if Aritri Dey did not commit an elementary mistake. “She forgot to bow at the start of the bout. That got her disqualified,” laments Sen, who was also the competition manager at the tournament. Since Aritri has got a bronze medal at the Senior National Championship, expectations were high from her.

Return to practice pad

The gold medallists, not even in their teens yet, were back for practice within 10 days on the rooftop of BD 340.

Rishika throws a kick at Premjit Sen in course of training as others watch. Pictures by Sudeshna Banerjee

Bespectacled Rishika Patra takes off her glasses before a fight. The CJ Block girl has been training at the academy since the age of three. Now she is 11. “My father used to be Shihan (Japanese term for master instructor)’s student. He had to give up karate due to spondylitis,” says the girl, whose cherubic face belies the grit of a purple stripe belt. That’s three grades below a black belt.

She studies in Ashok Hall Girls’ Higher Secondary School. The little time she can devote to studies at home after daily practice so far has fetched satisfactory grades. “Though official karate classes are twice a week, Shihan makes them practise separately every day after school,” says Rishika’s mother Sanjukta.

The results have been there to show. Her three earlier national championship appearances have fetched a gold, a bronze and a silver. Add to that a bronze in the Commmonwealth Karate Championship in 2015. “But I prize that first national gold beyond all other achievements. It was my first major competition. Shihan fell ill and had to leave before my fight. So I was alone,” says the girl who idolises boxing legend Mary Kom.

This time, Rishika travelled to Delhi with her parents, fellow student Pratyay Sarkar and his mother. “I was tense about how I would do. Didi (Rishika) was sure to get a medal,” says Pratyay, an eight-year-old from AD Block.

He need not have worried. “Pratyay has never returned without a gold medal from any competition,” says mother Chhanda. This may have been his first national event, but the boy has already played and won in internationals championships. “We try hard to save and send him abroad. Last year, he went to Cape Town, South Africa and the year before to Sydney, Australia. He won in both in his category,” says Chhanda, who runs a tailoring outfit supplying school uniforms to the state government.

This time was no different. “I won all five rounds. Ma was more excited than me,” Pratyay grins. The win earned him a big box of chocolates.

Such is the support he gets from home that his school was changed within a year of joining. “The pressure of studies was too much in Garden High,” she says. Pratyay now studies in Apeejay School in the neighbourhood.

Such is the pull of Sen’s coaching that people travel considerable distances. The other two gold medallists — Ayushman Ray and Amiyo Sundar Biswas — come from Madhyamgram and Konnagar respectively. “I used to train locally before. I am coming to Shihan’s academy for one year now,” smiles Ayushman, 9. Amiyo may be just 12 but he is already a three-time national gold medallist.

Karate’s inclusion in the 2020 Olympic Games in Tokyo has added a spring to their steps. “We used to be a sidelined sport. Now we will be taken seriously. I hope our state government takes notice of these young champions like our neighbouring states have,” says Sen. “My focus is on five students. From the age of 14, they will be eligible to complete in Asian Karate Championship. I am training them to face competition from the traditional powerhouses — Japan, Iran and Malaysia.”
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Can an Asiad/ Olympic karate medal come from the Salt Lake academies?
Write to The Telegraph Salt Lake, 6 Prafulla Sarkar Street, Calcutta 700001 or email to saltlake@abpmail.com
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source: http://www.telegraphindia.com / The Telegraph, Calcutta,India / Front Page> Salt Lake> Story / by Sudeshna Banerjee / Friday – May 26th, 2017

Meet Shakespeare, Tagore and Ray, across the Hooghly

Different strokes: Devajit Bandyopadhyay shows off some items from his collection. | Photo Credit: Special Arrangement

Kolkata collector with a passion for art of the world ready to turn three decades of memorabilia into public archive

Once famed as Sheffield of the east, Howrah, across the Hooghly from Kolkata does not normally attract attention, except from the spiritually-inclined who go to Belur Math. That is set to change, as a museum of the arts is taking shape in one of its small streets, with a trove of collections on literature and the performing arts.

The curated pieces include an old music record made of pitch board, a mid-18th century Bengali manuscript copy from Bibliotheque national de France, and an old ivory-inlay veena.

There are rare books of Shakespeare from London, letters of Rabindranath Tagore, a bioscope and original film posters of Ray and others. Many of these artefacts are from a three-decade-old private collection now going up for public viewing at the Academy Theatre Archive.

Devajit Bandyopadhyay is the passionate force behind the effort. He almost chose to be a chartered accountant, for which he qualified like others in his family, but found more value in theatre and its music. His journey began when he left home, almost penniless, realising that “justice cannot be done simultaneously to two fields that are poles apart.” Sitting in his South Kolkata apartment crammed with books on the performing arts, he recalls his early days of picking up skills in music, painting, theatre and puppetry. “I sang, I held painting exhibitions and gave lecture-demonstrations even as I pursued my passion for music-in-theatre.”

Gina Lolobrigida book

Researching this topic (he has a Ph. D from Jadavpur University on Bengali theatre music), he scoured sources worldwide.

Piece by small piece, he built a small assortment of things, sometimes finding treasures like a signed book by film star Gina Lolobrigida and a Bengali LP record in Oxford Street, UK. He knocked at every door that held promise.

Today, there are 500 pieces of memorabilia, 40 musical instruments, 20,000 books, periodicals and manuscripts and about 24,000 records of Indian and western music and operas. Most are backed by accession reports and authentication certificates, says Mr. Bandyopadhyay.

“My passion binds me to each acquisition, but my 12-year chase to acquire the 18th century Bengali manuscript in Paris and the time I had to persuade octogenarian Istiauq to sell his bioscope from remain etched in my mind”, he says.

Kidderpore chase

A hunt to get a book from a Kidderpore bookseller initially ended in failure, since the man was hospitalised suddenly.

He had lost all hope of getting the book when he heard that the store-owner had sold the entire cart to another book-dealer in central Kolkata.

“I located him. He was not in a very cooperative mood but I went with him to his godown and persuaded him to part with the book”, Mr. Bandyopadhyay recalls.

His passion for collecting and bringing artefacts from far and wide to an art-loving audience is undiminished.

He is now keen to set up the public archive and the digital venture was inaugurated by actor Madhabi Mukherjee, whose posters from Ray films are among the prominent exhibits.

Going public with art

Professor Jayanta Sengupta, Director, Indian Museum, lauds the effort.

He said at a workshop held recently to impart knowledge on restoration, that such private collections as they were a valuable source of conservation.

source: http://www.thehindu.com / The Hindu / Home> News> Cities> Kolkata / by Indrani Dutta / Kolkata – April 23rd, 2017

Assam to convert Bhupen Hazarika’s Kolkata house into archive

Assam Government wants to convert music legend Dr Bhupen Hazarika’s Kolkata residence into an archive, Chief Minister Sarbnanda Sonowal said today.

Director of Assam Bhawan in Kolkata was instructed to pursue the matter in obtaining the ownership of the house from its current owner, an official release said here today.

Hazarika, who died in 2011, lived in a house in Tollygunge area of south Kolkata for decades starting from the middle of 1950s.

At a meeting with the officials of Assam Bhawan in Kolkata, Sonowal also said that steps would be taken to erect a statue of Assam’s literary icon Lakshminath Bezbaruah in the Assam Bhawan premises in the metropolis.

Taking stock of the construction works of Kolkata Assam Bhawan, the Chief Minister said that the house must reflect Assamese culture and tradition through its architecture.

An auditorium inside the Assam Bhawan would be used commercially to generate revenue, he said.

The Chief Minister also directed the Chief Engineer of PWD department to construct a ‘namghar’ (prayer hall) in the Bhawan premises.

Sonowal also directed the officials to start a helpline and website for the benefit of the students and patients from Assam to Kolkata coming for higher studies medical treatment respectively, the release added.

(This article has not been edited by DNA’s editorial team and is auto-generated from an agency feed.)

source: http://www.dnaindia.com / DNA – Daily News & Analysis / Home> News> India / PTI / Thursday – May 04th, 2017

Tracing the last of Raj-era silversmiths

Kolkata :

A quiet revolution is unfolding in Mamata Banerjee’s backyard, courtesy her own MSME department.

The department’s retail body, Biswa Bangla Marketing Corporation, has started reviving a vanishing craft that is delightfully British, tracing the last of the Raj-era silversmiths — Maheswar Dutta — at Kansaripara.

TOI found Bengal’s only surviving “Sheffield craftsman” inside a crumbling edifice, down a backstreet of the CM’s Kalighat residence. These days, Kansaripara Lane — the cradle of Bengal’s traditional silversmithy — is no more than a place with decrepit houses that once belonged to Hindu sub-caste Kangshabaniks or Kansaris (bell metal workers) who settled here in the mid-18th century.

Squeezed between Sambhunath Pandit Street and Russa Road, this place is home to artisans who are still visited by leading jewellers for their outstanding craftsmanship. Dutta (63) is the last heir of a tradition extending back to Charnock’s Calcutta. His forefathers spearheaded a resurgence in heritage silver craft of the 8th century Pala dynasty.

“We were displaced from the nearby Gobindopur village, that constituted Calcutta 250 years ago when Robert Clive cleared the swamps to build Fort William,” said Dutta.

Some of the exquisite pieces Dutta and his apprentices, Alok Patra (38) and Biswanath Bodak (28), have forged will shortly travel to London for a Biswa-Bangla exhibition. The idea is to bring these intricate inlay work in dainty velvety boxes back to shoppers’ lists and eventually apply for the GI tag for the “nakshakari” work.

Only the other day, until Biswa Bangla’s chief consultant Partho P Kar tracked the roots of Bengal’s silversmithy, Dutta was a worried man. Now, they are the busiest stakeholders of the heritage craft revival project.

source: http://www.timesofindia.indiatimes.com / The Times of India / News> City News> Kolkata News / by Ajanta Chakraborty / TNN / May 01st, 2017

Grand theatre fest planned to celebrate 70 years of Bohurupee

Kolkata:

The journey that started in 1948 after Shambhu Mitra and Bijon Bhattacharya left the Indian People’s Theatre Association (IPTA) to embark on a new venture, continues unabated as Bohurupee turns 70 on May 1, making it the oldest surviving theatre group in the country.

The group that has left its imprint on the history of the nation’s theatre movement — first under Shambhu Mitra himself and then under Kumar Roy — is readying itself to present a theatre festival to celebrate the landmark.

The festival is scheduled between April 29 and May 1 and will not only see new productions and re-staging of popular plays, but will also have in attendance theatre directors Tanvir Akhtar from Bihar and Subodh Pattanaik from Odisha.

Shambhu Mitra (along with wife Tripti), stunned the theatre world with his ‘Raktakarabi’, ‘Char Adhyay’, ‘Visharjan’, ‘Raja’, ‘Malini’ and ‘Muktadhara’. Some of the other better known plays of Mitra were adaptations from Sophocles, Ibsen, Chekov, O’neil, Brecht, Anouilh, Sartre and Sanskrit classics like Sudrak’s ‘Mirchchakatika’ along with works of contemporary playwrights. The plays were noticed by leading theatre personalities in Mumbai and Delhi as well, so much so that Marathi legends Satyadev Dubey and Mohan Rakesh sent their student Amol Palekar to watch Bohurupee plays.

“Shambhu Mitra and and Kumar Roy shaped my sensibilities ever since I came into theatre in 1967. Those were different times when the Kolkata group theatre scene lit up theatre movements in Pune, Mumbai, Delhi and Bangalore,” said Amol Palekar, who is still associated with Bohurupee. “Night after night, I witnessed Mitra’s Ibsenian realism shake viewers out of their stupor. There was no Bohurupee production that I missed in the city,” he recounted. He has even written for the group’s special number that is scheduled to be released on the occasion.

The piece is at the same time a remembrance of Om Puri, whom he met at a theatre lovers’ gathering in Kolkata.

A new play, ‘Medal’, written by Alok Mukhopadhyay and directed by Debesh Roy Chowdhury, will be staged at the event.

Bohurupee spokesperson Susanta Das said, “We’ll honour the state’s biggest theatre directors. Of them, Rudraprasad Sengupta worked with Mitra and Bibhas Chakraborty started out as a Bohurupee student.”

source: http://www.timesofindia.indiatimes.com / The Times of India / Home> News> City News> Kolkata News / by Jhimli Mukherjee Pandey / TNN / April 24th, 2017

Memorial on Mahasweta Devi to come up in Kolkata

(Pic Credit: Google)

A memorial to Magsaysay award winning late author and social activist Mahasweta Devi will be set up at her residence in Rajdanga in Kolkata, Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee said on February 27.

“The memorial is ready. The memorial will house her belongings, books, and other materials used by her,” Banerjee said during an informal interaction with mediapersons at Eco Park.

Jnanpith awardee Mahasweta Devi, who crusaded for the rights of tribals and the marginalised throughout her life, died on July 28, 2016.

Banerjee also said the state government would establish memorials for famed journalists Barun Sengupta, Gour Kishore Ghosh and Amitabha Chowdhury. The government also had plans to rename roads after the three journalists. A road close to the office of the Bartaman newspaper on the Eastern Metropolitan Bypass founded by Sengupta would be rechristened after him.

The government was on the lookout for sites to set up the memorials on June 19.

source: http://www.timesofindia.indiatimes.com / The Times of India / News> Lifestyle> Books / IANS / February 28th, 2017

Kolkata sculptor moulds President’s statue

Kolkata :

Last time sculptor Niranjan Pradhan worked with a model offering live sitting was 50 years ago in 1966-67, when he was a student at art college and professional models posed for students to sketch and sculpt human figures.

The sessions helped the artist create some of his best bronze figures, including that of Raja Rammohan Roy in Bristol, Vivekananda, Tagore and Jagadish Chandra Bose at Burdwan University , Satyajit Ray at Roop Kala Kendra and Uttam Kumar at Tollygunge. “One gets to sculpt only famous personalities or gods and goddesses. Artists usually don’t get to sculpt a live person,” said Pradhan. Little did he know he would get the rare opportunity , and the model would be none other than President Pranab Mukherjee.

Over five sessions last year, Mukherjee sat without as much as twitching a facial muscle as Pradhan gave the finishing touches to his statue, now at Rashtrapati Bhavan. “Rashtrapati Bhavan wanted to commission a work for the collection of President’s busts. I readily agreed,” Pradhan said.

Mukherjee had to first go in for a shoot, in which he was photographed from various angles.Based on the photos, Pradhan did the initial clay modelling and then a fibre glass mould, which he carried to Delhi for a live session with Mukherjee for finishing touches. “I was excited about checking out how my sculpture had fared compared to the person,” the artist said.But Pradhan was in for disappointment as Mukherjee got busy with meetings and then left for China.

The next time Pradhan visited Rasthrapati Bhavan was a couple of months later.But this time, he was pleasantly surprise. Not only did Mukherjee give him a day’s sitting, he also sat through for an hour, daily for five days in a row. “He was the perfect model.He was very cooperative and even spent time after the sitting to see how the work progressed,” Pradhan said.

The artist created a plaster cast of the final sculpture and returned to his Salt Lake studio for a bronze casting.

The bust was delivered to Rashtrapati Bhavan in time to be installed next to APJ Abdul Kalam’s bust on December 11, Mukherjee’s birthday .

source: http://www.timesofindia.indiatimes.com / The Times of India / Home> News> City News> Kolkata News / by Subhro Niyogi / TNN / February 27th, 2017