Category Archives: Arts, Culture & Entertainment

Sculpture garden inaugurated in Kolkata on Wednesday

Kolkata :

A sculpture garden on the history of Bengal will be inaugurated by minister Firhad Hakim at New Town’s Eco Park on Wednesday.

The garden will have 12 murals that will focus on important individuals and their contributions to the country and society, as well as on different phases of the history like Shri Chaitanya, Battle of Plassey, Raja Ramohan Roy, renaissance in Bengal, Bankimchandra, the awakening of Bengal in India, Swami Vivekananada and his activities, Santhal rebellion, Indigo Movement, Subhash Chandra Bose and the Azad Hind Fauz, Shri Arobindo, Lalan Fakir, Kazi Nazrul Islam, Rabindranath Tagore and the Visva Bharati movement, Satyajit Ray and his world of films

The garden will also have 52 portraits, including Shri Chaitanya Mahapravu and Begum Rokeya and will have a light and sound show explaining the story in each of the relief panels.

The show will keep the audience moving from one panel to another in groups. There will also be benches for the elderly and children.

source: http://www.timesofindia.indiatimes.com / The Times of India / News / by Suman Chakraborti / TNN / September 21st, 2017

The festival begins

Pictures by Bishwarup Dutta

Chief minister Mamata Banerjee inaugurates the (right) Sree Bhumi Sporting Club pandal, modelled after the palace of Mahishmati in the Bahubali films, on Monday.

Attending the first event of her packed pre-Puja calendar, Mamata once again explained why she could not allow Durga immersions and Muharram processions on the same day. “Durga Puja is a festival of happiness and Muharram processions are taken out as a mark of sorrow,” she said. The chief minister also cautioned those trying to create trouble during the festive season.

“Till the date I’m on this (chief minister’s) chair, I will not let anything happen. It is my duty to see that no two localities fight among themselves,” she added, appealing to all for peace.

“The countdown to Durga Puja, our biggest festival, has started.

Today I was at Sreebhumi Sporting Club to inaugurate their puja. My best wishes to all,” she posted on Facebook soon after.

source: http://www.telegraphindia.com / The Telegraph,Calcutta, India / Front Page> Calcutta> Story / Tuesday – September 19th, 2017

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

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

Henry’s Island: A quaint getaway in West Bengal Spending a laid-back weekend close to Kolkata

Long, white beaches and a clear blue skyline is Henry’s Island’s distinct feature

Among the numerous beach destinations close to the eastern Indian metropolis, Kolkata, Henry’s Island is an offbeat choice for those looking for tranquillity.

In a lazy, white sand beach, where red crabs crawl, one could expect to find solitude and solace. Located at a distance of around 130 km from the bustling city of Kolkata, Henry’s Island is home to one such place. An area where government fisheries can be found, this tranquil destination is located close to another popular beach spot, Bakkhali.

Henry’s Island is still undisturbed and unspoilt by the markers of human civilisation – plastic packets, blaring sound systems or abandoned bottles. Pristine white sands are often hued by shifting tinges of red, owing to the crawling crabs, with the occasional fisherman walking by – this is the image that Henry’s Island leaves behind. The entrance to the beach involves a walk through a swamp of sorts, with a line of trees that hides the beach from the rest of the world.

For the traveller, who is looking for an experience that doesn’t involve heavy activity, Henry’s Island plays a welcome host. A watch tower, above one of the two guest houses on the location, is what visitors to nearby destinations frequent most. Views on a clear sky showcase the Sunderbans mangrove, which are located very close to the beach destination. One could also opt to walk around the beach and villages nearby.

Henry’s Island is also a great place to sample some seafood, which is locally grown and acquired. Locals are used to guests coming in to try the food at the Sundari Canteen, which offers the fresh catches. The Fisheries Department of the Government of West Bengal uses area for pisciculture and also takes care of forest conservation.

Getting there

Located some 130 km away from Kolkata, one would expect to reach the place in a matter of a short time. However, the journey by road takes much longer, owing to a change through a ferry which crosses the Hatania-Doania creek, which involves a long wait. There are also direct buses available, but since these buses ply once a day from Kolkata’s Esplanade bus depot, it is better to enquire a day in advance for seats and timing. To save some time, a local train can be taken from the Sealdah station in Kolkata, with a stop at Namkhana station. After this, a boat ferry, which costs a mere rupee or two per person can be taken, and on the other side, buses are available to drop at a location close to Henry’s Island, or one can opt for vans.

Getting to Henry’s Island is a slow journey, yet it provides the perfect window of transition from the busy city into the tranquil paradise. As a spot to unwind, relax, catch up on some reading or simply a chance to spend some time by yourself, Henry’s Island is a weekend getaway from Kolkata that reinvigorates the senses.

source: http://www.mediaindia.euc/ Media India Group / Home> News-India & You> Tourism / by Mehk Chakraborty / May 08th, 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

Remembering legendary artist Jamini Roy

He brought versatility and emotion to folk art

Google is celebrating with a doodle the 130th birth anniversary of one of the big names in 20th century Indian art, Jamini Roy.

A graduate from the Government College of Art, Kolkata, Roy was a pupil of Abanindranath Tagore, the creator of ‘Indian Society of Oriental Art’. Roy was born in Beliatore village of Bankura district in 1887.

He started his career spanning over six decades as a commissioned portrait artist but soon gave up and began experimenting with Indian folk art. He took lessons from patua, a community known for their traditional occupation of painting idols, to better his craft at Kalighat paintings.

His work, however, wasn’t limited to painting alone. His wooden sculptures, rooted in Indian villages, reflect the traditional art of Bengal. The quintessential ‘Jamini Roy’ work exhibits bold colours of red, yellow ochre, blue, and white. Roy brought versatility and emotion to folk art. While a painting of a Santhal woman oozes sensuousness, the ‘Three Pujarinis’ are very traditional looking almond-eyed women.

Some of his other world famous work includes, ‘Ramayana’ a magnum opus spread across 17 canvases; ‘Gopini and two Companions’; ‘Mother and Child’; ‘Bengali Woman’; and ‘Three men in boat’ .

Jamini Roy received many awards and accolades, including the Padma Bhushan in 1955. In 1976, the Archaeological Society of India declared him one of “Nine Masters” to be treated as treasure. Roy passed away in 1972.

source: http://www.thehindu.com / The Hindu / Home> News> National / The Internet Desk / April 11th, 2017

Art of craft: This Sunday, RBU to organise fair to promote Bengal’s indigenous handicrafts from across districts

The traditional craft of the Lepchas along with Bonbibi masks and clay dolls of Joynagar in South 24 Parganas will be displayed for the first time at the ‘Lokshilpa O Karukirti Mela’ organised by Rabindra Bharati University on May 7.

Professor Sabyasachi Basu Ray Chaudhury, Vice-Chancellor of the university will preside over the inaugural function at the Dwarkanath Mancha, Jorasanko Thakurbari. The three-day fair has been organised by the West Bengal State Akademi of Dance, Drama Music and Visual Arts.

Haimanti Chattopadhyay, secretary of the Akademi said the main purpose behind holding the fair was to create awareness among people about the rich tradition in the field of art and crafts in the state. “We often decorate our rooms with masks that are famous in South Africa and Thailand but in Bengal, there are districts where the artisans make masks and which can compete with their counterparts anywhere in the world.” The clay dolls of Joynagar which have a long history will be displayed for the first time.

Similarly, the traditional crafts of the Lepcha community will be on display.

It may be mentioned that the Backward Classes Welfare department has chalked out schemes to help Lepcha artists and musicians to pursue their carrier.

Nearly 60 artists, craftspersons and weavers from 17 districts of Bengal will take part in the fair with a wide range of attractive traditional art and craft items made by them.

These will include — patachitras, mats, and decorative items made with wild grass and buffalo horns from Paschim Medinipur district; lac items from Purba Medinipur district; clay dolls from Dakshin 24 Parganas district; dokra jewellery, shola crafts, kantha-stitch items and batik products from Birbhum and Howrah districts; kanthas and wood carvings from Bardhaman district; traditional clay models from Nadia district; Baluchari sarees, dokra crafts and dashabatar cards from Bankura district; Chhau dance masks from Purulia district; bamboo crafts from Malda district; jute crafts from Murshidabad district; wooden masks and dokra items from Dakshin Dinajpur district; polia clay models from Uttar Dinajpur district; wooden handicrafts from Alipurduar district; shitalpatis from Cooch Behar district; and wood carvings from Darjeeling district.

source: http://www.millenniumpost.com / Millennium Post / Home> Kolkata / by Team MP / Kolkata – May 05th, 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

A scooter-riding bookseller has served Kolkata better than Amazon could ever hope to

From Vir Sanghvi to Aveek Sarkar, everyone is a fan of Tarun Kumar Shaw’s unique personal book home delivery service.

Photo credit: Rana Chakraborty.

If a book has been printed, and is in circulation in even the remotest part of the world, chances are, Tarun Kumar Shaw will be able to get it for you. Be it a banned title, a rare tome, the latest edition of a prestigious science journal, Tarun-da, as he is popularly known in Kolkata, knows how to sniff out that book you want from under a pile of rubbish or email trail half way around the planet. Once the prize is in his hands, he will roll out his trusted two wheeler to ride to wherever you are – at your desk, at the Golf Club, or at the airport lounge – to personally deliver it to you. Commission on every sale depends on the challenges of the Holy Grail.

For more than three decades now, Tarun Shaw has been running what is possibly the only one of its kind personal book home delivery service in Kolkata. From the secured offices of leading media houses, to the corporate offices, the impenetrable Alipore and Ballygunj bungalows to the hallowed libraries of the academic institutions, Shaw has an all-access pass. Rather, he is the all-access pass and can reach where Amazon cannot – into the proud Bengali’s very cluttered headspace.

Ever since his father, Gopal Lal Shaw, wound up his tenure at Dey and Brothers, a bookstore in what used to be the Book Range in New Market, Shaw has been personally delivering books to every client in the city. He has been a particularly familiar and welcome sight in newspaper offices, carrying cases full of books that cover everything from science, politics, fascism ( a popular obsession, he says), general knowledge and literature.

Editors’ pick
In a quiet room in a quiet house, painted in loud pop colours, Tarun-da recapped his extraordinary life as an itinerant bookseller in the city that has been home to two Nobel Laureates, several Sahitya Akademi and Jnanpith awardees. It began with his father, who realised almost four decades ago that traditional bookstores would disappear, but a book lover will still want to read.

“It was to reach out to the diehard reader, and his old clients, that my father decided to start this door-to-door bookselling service,” said Shaw, 53. Calcutta was still reading voraciously at that time, and business flourished. “Our USP was our ability to procure imported newspapers and journals within days, sometimes hours,” explained Shaw about how the Los Angeles Times, New York Times, the various science and literary journals became a part of their repertoire. The Shaws were also canny businessmen and realised that siting on unsold inventory did not make sense. “We only procure on demand. Where is the space to stock books?”

An avid reader, Shaw also perfected the art of reading his client’s mind. “I have always loved talking to people about books. And once I have spent some time with anyone, I get a sense of what he or she would like to read. Next time we meet, I would suggest 10 books out of which, I guarantee you, the client will like at least one.”

Photo credit: Rana Chakraborty.

As work began to expand, Shaw’s elder brother joined the team, though Shaw-junior remained the most visible face of the book business, traversing the city, carrying a dozen odd books every day. That this was a successful business model became evident when others began to try out something similar. But the Tarun-da had an upper hand, and others fell by the wayside.

“I have known legendary editors such as MJ Akbar and Vir Sanghvi,” he said. “The latter especially was extremely generous and introduced me to some of the biggest business families who are now my clients. I enjoy a certain rapport with everyone and they trust me…” He was interrupted by calls from clients, one of whom wanted him to suggest a book to gift at a sacred thread ceremony, and another who wanted something on Swami Vivekananda.

Shaw’s relationship with the ABP Group, the media house that publishes The Telegraph, is special. There have been times when Aveek Sarkar, editor emeritus of the group, has called him in the dead of night to request for a rare title, or a special thesaurus, and Shaw has delivered. The employees too have developed a bond with him. Shaw sells everything from Sidney Sheldon to Andre Gide. He does not judge. The thrill, for him, has been in the chase. “I love challenges,” he said. “Even when Satanic Verses was banned, I got several copies of the book. It took time, but I did it.”

He prefers to sell only English and Bengali books because, in his words, “no one reads books in any other language here”.

Photo credit: Rana Chakraborty.

For the longest time, the city that has had a very special relationship with the written word had a very special place in its heart for the man who showed up with something or the other of interest. While College Street now lives on textbooks and nostalgia, there are hardly any bookstores of consequence left in the city, and Shaw refused to blame the decline on the internet. “It is us,” he said. “One generation gave up reading. But younger people are moving back to books. Kindle could not wipe it out. But why have we not been able to produce any writer of consequence after say a Sunil Gangopadhyay [one of Bengal’s most respected authors]. Why are Paulo Coelho, Jeffrey Archer failing to produce bestsellers?”

Last chapter
Of all the editors he has sold books to, Shaw had the most engaging conversations with the late editor of the ABP Group’s film magazine and noted filmmaker Rituparno Ghosh. “I remember, every time I walked in, he would literally throw everything away from his desk to make room for the books that I carried with me. I have not met anyone who was so obsessed with reading.” After his untimely death, Ghosh’s collection of 1,500 books were gifted to the Satyajit Ray Film and Television Institute. According to Shaw, most of those books were bought from him.

Shaw misses these associations. “It is not work. I have no problems selling you a book and walking away. It is business after all. But it breaks my heart to see a new book lying in a forgotten corner. I used to enjoy going back to my clients to discuss the book. I looked forward to these invigorating, stimulating conversations. I have had clients who call me home point to a wall and say: Isko Kitabon Se Bhar Dijiye! Not just any kind of books, they want leather-bound, gold-embossed books as a status symbol.” Shaw also blamed Bengali soaps for weaning the once fiercely well-read Bengali homemaker off books. “In the afternoons, after lunch, women would retire with a novella, a literary magazine or even a mythological book. Now it is just crap on TV.”

Even in the institutes, money spent annually on procuring rare titles, world class journals, are not actually realised because “not a page is turned”.

Shaw’s son works in Singapore, but he acknowledges his role in helping him reach out to publishers around the world. “I studied in a Bengali medium school. I am not tech savvy either. But my son started tracking down publishers and established a global network which I am still enjoying. He helped me tremendously to expand our business.” But neither his brother’s children, nor his son are interested in taking over the reins of the business. It is not as if Shaw is keen to see it continue either. “The whole business worked on trust, familiarity. People see my face and I put my personal equity out there every day over the past 30 years. We hired a couple of people to deliver newspapers, magazines, but not the books. That is special. It had to be me delivering them to those who waited for them. And it ends with me.”

We welcome your comments at letters@scroll.in.

source: http://www.scroll.in / Scroll.in / Home> Magazine> Book Lovers / by Chandrima Pal / Thursday – May 03rd, 2017