Category Archives: Arts, Culture & Entertainment

Bose Institute, 100, to house museum on history of Indian science

One of the pages of J.C. Bose’s notes. Photo: Special Arrangement

Bose Institute, one of India’s oldest research institutes, will house a museum highlighting the history of Indian science. The decision was taken during the recently-concluded centenary celebrations of the institution, set up by Jagadish Chandra Bose in 1917.

“The History of Science Museum will be located in the campus of Bose Institute on Acharya Prafulla Chandra Road in Kolkata. We are in touch with the National Council of Science Museums for its construction. There will be 50- 60 panels in the first phase which will be completed by 2019,” Siddhartha Roy, director of Bose Institute, told The Hindu.

According to Prof. Roy, the museum will cover four disciplines — physics, astronomy, mathematics and medical sciences — and trace the journey of Indian science from the ancient times.

“Depending on the themes we can have the gallery tracing the development from the Harappan times,” he said.

Professor P.P. Divakaran, who was present at the centenary celebrations of Bose Institute last month and gave a lecture on The Mathematics of India : From Counting to Calculus, welcomed the idea of the museum and said he was “pleasantly surprised “to find a section dedicated to mathematics.

“For most of the time till 1600 AD, India had one of the most advanced mathematical cultures among the world,” Prof. Divakaran said.

Prof. Roy pointed out that modern Indian science may have started with J.C. Bose but there were many who did pioneering work but people were not aware of their contribution.

“In terms of advancements in medical science, the museum will highlight the likes of U.N. Brahmachari, who discovered the treatment for kala azar, and Sambhu Nath De, who discovered the cholera toxin,” Prof. Roy said.

Renovated museum at Bose Institute

Interestingly, as part of its centenary celebrations, the Bose Institute recently upgraded the existing museum on J.C. Bose by displaying 12 digitised volumes of the scientist’s handwritten notes and dairies.

These diaries include the notes he took while attending classes by Francis Darwin (son of Charles Darwin) at Christ’s College in Cambridge. The museum, which also has on display the microwave apparatus developed by J.C. Bose in 1894, has also brought to light the scientist’s communications with personalities such as Mahatma Gandhi and Sister Nivedita.

source: / The Hindu / Home> News> Cities> Kolkata / by Shiv Sahay Singh / Kolkata – December 02nd, 2017

The Great Escape car story

Netaji Subhas Chandra Bose’s Great Escape car, the 1937 Wanderer, was taken apart – on slides – and its restoration story told at the Calcutta Club on Saturday.

Restorer Pallab Ray (right in picture by Sanat Kr Sinha) gave an audiovisual presentation on how he was picked to restore the vintage car that was part of “such a thrilling history”.

In fact, the Bose family had two cars – a Studebaker President and the Wanderer. Apparently, Netaji wanted to escape in the Studebaker. But the Wanderer was chosen as everyone thought people would easily recognise the Studebaker.

Netaji’s nephew Sisir Bose ran an endurance test with the Wanderer till Burdwan.

On the night of the Escape, the Wanderer made a noisy start as it moved out of the Elgin Road house, turned right and then again right to get on to Allenby Road. Netaji held on to his door tightly without closing it so that anyone who was awake would hear only one door being shut. He shut the door after the car had crossed Allenby Road.

On the 75th anniversary of the Great Escape, the restored Wanderer (top in picture by Pradip Sanyal) was unveiled by then President Pranab Mukherjee.

The car had been on display at the Netaji Research Bureau (NRB) since 1970.

The NRB director appointed Audi Calcutta for its restoration. As Wanderer was built by Auto Union, which Audi bought later, they had been contracted to do the job. The Audi Calcutta CEO zeroed in on Ray who had restored his family’s Studebaker President.

Ray said he found the car in a shambles. He was asked to do just a visual restoration, but he decided to make it run again. And he did that with the help of his team. From overhauling the engine to working on the transmission and unique Wanderer suspensions, rebuilding the dashboard and stitching the upholstery, Ray restored the vehicle completely.

Reporting by Anasuya Basu
source: / The Telegraph, Calcutta,India / Home> Calcutta / by Anasuya Basu / December 06th, 2017

Hues of special talent

Kids of Society for Indian Children’s Welfare display their craftwork at the exhibition at ICCR. (Koushik Saha)


It was a happy day for 12-year-old Sharda. Guests appreciated her block printing work on paper bags. She also got a chance to sing before an audience, wearing her beautiful dress. The best part was visiting a new place.

“It feels nice to be here,” gushed the girl who lives in a shelter (JJ Home) for abandoned and disabled children, run by the Society for Indian Children’s Welfare.

Rima’s handmade bookmarks lay next to Sharda’s creations. “I love art. I love to dance too,” said the 14-year-old who shares her home with Sharda.

Around 34 kids from SICW’s Beck Bagan shelter got an opportunity to take part in an exhibition organised for the first time at the Indian Council for Cultural Relations (ICCR) on November 20. “Twenty-one of these kids are those with special needs,” added Shirin Dastur, the vice-chairperson of the organisation.

Joining hands with these kids were the women and children of SICW’s community outreach programme in Kasba. This is the first time the organisation had showcased its members’ creativity.

“We have been working with special, abandoned and marginalised kids for 40 years. It took us six months to organise the exhibition. But seeing the response this time, we plan to make it an annual event,” said Zarin Dadina, the founder and chairperson of the organisation.

From handmade jewellery by the women to the stationary items made by the children, the exhibition was a sell-out.

Up for grabs were decorated envelopes, embroidered towels and a range of painted candle-holders and bookmarks. “It boosts the confidence of the teachers and the students when they get such recognition,” added Dadina.

The organisation runs a creche, a medical unit, an adult literacy centre and more at Kasba. “Around 200 children are covered by this programme. We also work for rehabilitating the children with disabilities. Some of them have joined mainstream schools and the Indian Institute of Cerebral Palsy,” she said.

source: / The Telegraph,Calcutta,India / Home> Calcutta / by Chandreyee Ghose / December 05th, 2017

Darbeshi singer dies


Kalachand Darbesh, who is presumed to be the last Darbeshi singer of Bengal, passed away at his home in Gobindapally of Dhupguri on Sunday morning.

The 84-year-old singer, who has earned several national and international accolades for his songs, was suffering from breathing problems and renal complications.

Family members said he had fallen ill on Saturday and was taken to the North Bengal Medical College and Hospital in Siliguri.

Later, doctors advised that he could be taken back home but around 6.45am on Sunday, he breathed his last. He is survived by his wife, son, daughter-in-law and a granddaughter.

“He was the last Darbeshi singer in Bengal,” Rup Das, his son, said.

In his lifetime, Kalachand had worked with maestros like Pandit Ravishankar.

In 1990, at London Bharat Mela, he had performed with Zakir Hussain and sung Darbeshi songs in Scotland, France and Africa.

In 2013, he was awarded the Nazrul Puraskar by the state government. Chief minister Mamata Banerjee had handed over the award to him.

The same year, he was conferred the Sahajiya Samman by Sahajiya Foundation. The foundation had also made a documentary on his music and life named In Search of Darbeshi Songs.

“He was one of the few persons who had kept the Darbeshi style of singing alive and had worked on it in a consistent manner for decades. His demise is a loss for the state and all Darbeshi song lovers,” north Bengal development minister Rabindranath Ghosh said.

Ghosh, who visited Dhupguri to attend some government functions, said they would mull over a proposal of setting up a statue of Kalachand.

“His contribution and works on music should be remembered,” the minister said.

source: / The Telegraph, Calcutta,India/ Home> West Bengal / by The Telegraph Correspondent / December 04th, 2017

Calcuttans share city memories


More than 200 Calcuttans strung together their impression of the city through keepsakes and stories at a crowdsourced event in GD Birla Sabhagar on Friday.

A month-long campaign on Facebook and Instagram prompted artistes, professionals and students to join Kolkata 100/100. Centre Stage Creations presented the art installation project as part of the Sabhagar Theatre Festival.

Various shades of city life were brought alive through stories of love, struggle and fight for justice. “I was the outsider who would come here to visit grandparents during vacations,” Rajashree Bose, a professional, said.

Her story traced her metamorphosis from an outsider watching Chuti chuti and loving mithai during vacations to a true blue Calcuttan who complains about the lack of job opportunities yet enjoys its comfortable lifestyle.

The signboard, a birthday gift to a student, was one of the 100 objects on display. (Shuvo Roychaudhury)

Many stories focused on optimism. Rupkotha Mukherjee spoke about her fight with depression and her love for writing poetry. “I look at depression in a positive light. It has helped me write better,” the student said.

Some traced the city’s dark side. Activist Ekaboli Ghosh spoke of the abuse that she and her mother faced at home and the daily crime against women in the city. “I am very disillusioned with the city,” she said.

The storytelling session – I Am #NOTA FACEINTHECROWD – was peppered with nostalgia, confessions, political views and humour.

Shahidul Islam’s account of how he fought against taking dowry and managed to convert his village won plenty of applause.

Stories also came out through objects. Every object came with a note about its importance in the owner’s life.

A red letter box, a prop used in a play Priyo Bandhu by Mad About Drama, was one of the first objects to grab eyeballs. Perched on top of it was an Old Monk bottle, a remnant of Alokananda Mandal’s college days. Student Priyadarshini Mukherjee had contributed a No Entry signboard, a 21st birthday gift from a bestie who had stolen it on his 21st birthday.

source: / The Telegraph, Calcutta,India / Home> Calcutt / by Chandreyee Ghose / December 03rd, 2017

Web magazine by old school mates

The home page of Batayan

A group of middle-aged women — school friends of the 1981 Madhyamik batch — reunited over Facebook and WhatsApp and have now started a literary website. Many of the 20-odd contributors are scattered around the country but the three core committee members hail from Salt Lake and New Town.

“We are all former students of Sunity Academy in Cooch Behar,” says Dolanchampa Dutta, a homemaker from EE Block and one of the editors of “It so turned out that instead of forwarding jokes on our WhatsApp group many members were sharing their write-ups. So we thought of taking it further.”

Batayan has sections on poetry, short stories, travelogues…. Those who do not have a knack for literature have contributed recipes, paintings and body care tips. “We also have a section for our children, called Sabuj. This is the only section where we allow English articles as most children these days are not comfortable writing in Bengali,” says Sumita Majumder, a homemaker from New Town’s Shaporji Palonji complex. “These days the youths are hardly inclined towards literature but I’m happy that my college-going son and working daughter have sent articles for us too.”

The e-magazine was launched on Mahalaya and will be quarterly. “We shall soon accept articles from outsiders too and if we are able to get some ads then shall pay contributors,” says Manjushree Ray, another member, from Purbachal, Cluster X.

The women say launching an e-magazine has been much simpler than running a print one. “We would have to find a publisher, distributor and post copies to members scattered all over India,” says Ray. “Instead an IT professional-friend from BL Block — Sumit Sarkar — built us this website and made things very simple. And we forward the link ourselves to friends and relatives as a way of marketing and we are delighted that we got 600 visitors to come read our works.”

source: / The Telegraph, Calcutta,India / Home> Calcutta / by Brinda Sarkar / December 01st, 2017

CM bats for e-archive of rare documents

Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee lays the foundation stone of the West Bengal Legislative Assembly Platinum Jubilee Memorial Building

Kolkata :

The Platinum Jubilee Memorial Building coming up on the West Bengal Legislative Assembly premises will be a treasure trove of rare documents, books and historic files. The documents will be accessible to general public.

Chief minister Mamata Banerjee, while laying the foundation of the building, requested assembly speaker Biman Banerjee to keep a separate entrance for common people, students and scholars to access the documents. “We were the first to make public the Netaji files, which were in possession of the Bengal government. We believe in transparency and accountability. There are several rare files from the pre-Independence and post-Independence era in possession of Kolkata Police, state police and the assembly,” said the CM.

She urged the Kolkata Police and the state police to digitize all these rare documents and make them available online. The CM also said that an e-library can be made. “If the MPs want to do some research for preparing a note before addressing Parliament, they get adequate information within a very short time. There should be similar mechanism in the assembly as well,” she said.

The chief minister also asked if the documents and archive material can be translated into English with the help of British Council. “You should also look into possibilities of exchange of documents and other materials with the Parliament of Bangladesh,” she said. The proposal was made since Bangladesh holds a huge number of documents before and after the Partition. “Bengali is the fifth widely spoken language in the world and second in Asia. The e-library will benefit a huge number of students,” she said.

source: / The Times of India / News> City News> Kolkata News> Politics / TNN / November 30th, 2017

Bengal in Bollywood: tracing a cross-country romance

Exhibition at KIFF chronicles contributions to mainstream cinema over 80 years

Over the past few years, while delivering the inaugural lecture at Kolkata International Film Festival (KIFF), superstar Amitabh Bachchan has emphasized the contribution of Bengal’s film makers and artistes to Bollywood. And this year was no different.

Speaking at the inauguration of the 23rd edition of KIFF earlier this week on this year’s focus on music and songs in Indian cinema, Mr. Bachchan said, ““The biggest revolution in journey of film song happened in Bengal when in 1935 director Nitin Bose and his brother Mukul Bose… introduced pre-recorded song in the Bengali film Bhagya Chakra and its Hindi remake Dhoop Chhaon.”

And ‘Bengal in Bollywood’ is the theme of an exhibition organised by the State Information and Cultural Affairs Department at Nandan during the ongoing festival.

The exhibition chronicles the contribution not only of Bengali directors and actors but also technicians and singers through 30 unique and rare original posters, 22 lobby cards and 10 informative posters over 60 years from the 1930s to the early 1990s.

Rare glimpses

The earliest posters are of director Nitin Bose’s Chandidas and Dhoop Chhaon from 1934 and 1935 respectively while the latest is from the Mithun Chakraborty starrer Ghar Ek Mandir from 1984.

The posters are largely from the personal collection of statistician-turned-film buff Somnath Ray who has curated the exhibition.

“Most of the posters are 40 x 30 inches or 30×20 inches but there is one poster of the 1958 comedy Chalti Ka Naam Gaadi which is one-third of the size of original. These are called ‘one-third’ and were kept in the office of the producers,” Mr Ray said.

The posters reveal little known links between Bengal and Bollywood. Among the posters is one of Bollywood’s iconic director Raj Kapoor’s Awara. Mr. Roy explains that the film was shot by a Bengali cinematographer, Radhu Karmakar.

Iconic faces

Other than the posters, there are about 22 lobby cards, which were printed by film studios to promote their films till 1960 and are now part of film memorabilia.

Lobby cards of Basu Chaterjee’s Shaukeen starring Ashok Kumar and Utpal Dutt, Shakti Samanta’s Anand Ashram and Hrishikesh Mukherjee’s Mem Didi are on display.

The 40×30 inch poster of another Hrishikesh Mukherjee’s film Anupama starring Dharmendra and Sharmila stands out given its unique style of painting.

Along with the film memorabilia, there are at 10 large black-and-white photographs of Bengali directors, actors and singers featuring Ashok Kumar, Utpal Dutta, Devika Rani, and Hrisikesh Mukherjee among others.

source: / The Hindu / Home> Entertainment> Movies / by Shiv Sahay Singh / Kolkata – November 12th, 2017

Soumitra Chatterjee to get French honour during Kolkata book fair

Image Courtesy: YouTube Grab

Kolkata (IANS)

Legendary Bengali actor Soumitra Chatterjee would be handed over France’s highest civilian award Legion of Honour during the 42nd edition of the International Kolkata Book Fair in January next year.

France, which would also be the focal theme of this edition of the world’s most attended book fair, is planning to present the award to the octogenarian actor on the inaugural day of the event in the presence of its Minister of Culture Francoise Nyssen, a senior French official said on Tuesday.

“Soumitra Chatterjee is not just an actor, he is a legend. The award was announced in June. But we waited for the perfect occasion to hand him the award. The book fair seems to be a perfect backdrop as our Minister of Culture would also be present in the city at that time,” Damien Syed, Consul General of France in Kolkata, said during the announcement and logo unveiling event of the book fair here.

“It is a befitting occasion to hand him the award as a French minister would be visiting the city after seven years. We felt it would be more prestigious and impactful if he is handed over the award by the minister, who herself is a writer and a noted publisher in France,” he pointed out.

The upcoming edition of the book fair would be inaugurated by West Bengal Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee at a new venue in Central Park Mela Grounds in Salt Lake and would be held from January 31 to February 11.

Talking about the French connection to the Kolkata book fair, Syed said the French pavilion in this edition, entitled ‘Experience: The Digital Journey of France’, would focus on highlighting various aspects of Indo-French relations.

“It is wonderful to see France as the main focus country in the Kolkata book fair. The French pavilion in the fair would be uniquely designed to portray different aspects of Indo-French relationships in the past, present and future,” the consul general said.

The ongoing ‘Bonjour India Festival’, organised by the cultural wing of the French Embassy in different Indian cities on the occasion of the 70th year of Indo-France diplomatic relationship, would observe its closing ceremony at the Kolkata book fair.

source: / Zee News / Home> News> Lifestyle> People / IANS / November 28th, 2017

An exhibition traces the origins of indigo, born in India and loved the world over

The dye that brings the world together

The Greeks called it indikon and the Romans, indicum, eventually indigo in English, all implying the same — from India. True indigo, Indigofera tinctoria, a flowering plant with 750 sub-species is found in the tropics. It produces this distinctive natural dye from its leaves, and is the only organic source of the colour blue in nature. And the Indian subcontinent being the prime supplier of true indigo, the dye was named thus by the Greeks.

Then, Arab merchants took the dye to the Mediterranean and Europe and its rarity gave it a regal aura. Jenny Balfour-Paul, dye specialist and an authority on indigo, says the term ‘royal blue’ came from here.

Balfour-Paul was at Kolkata’s Indian Council for Cultural Relations to speak at Indigo Sutra, a fascinating symposium held there in early November.

As Gasali Adeyemo from Nigeria demonstrated the unique adire tie-dye technique from his country, Sufiyan Ismail Khatri from Kutch demonstrated ajrakh, the block printing that’s done on both sides of the fabric. Adeyemo spoke of how the patterns in adire are tribe identifiers, also working as messages that convey specific ideas and thoughts, easily recognisable to compatriots.

Amrita Mukerji, the woman behind Sutra Textile Studies, the non-profit society that organised the event, was in Malaysia in the late 80s-early 90s and decided she wanted to showcase India as something more than just the country that provided wealthy Malays with plantation workers. So she began to exhibit, using personal and other collections, Indian textiles, jewellery, art, literature and music.

It was in Nigeria that Mukerji had fallen in love with indigo, finding the local shops stacked with bolts in vibrant indigo hues in adire patterns. It was there she discovered checked cloth called George that looked just like Indian lungi patterns. And later learnt that the name came from Fort St. George in Chennai; the same cloth was known as Bleeding Madras in other places.

And the twain met

In 2000, Mukerji met Balfour-Paul. At the time, Balfour-Paul had just come across the journals of a Victorian adventurer and fellow indigo-lover, Thomas Machell.

Inspired by Machell’s writing, which she published as Deeper than Indigo, Balfour-Paul set out to trace his footsteps; and Mukerji travelled with her to the places in Bengal where Machell had lived as an indigo planter.

Monoleena Banerjee, an independent textile designer and consultant, also accompanied them.

Superimposing a map made by Machell on to a contemporary road map, they found four of Machell’s nil kuthis or indigo houses in Nadia district. Three of them were in ruins, while the fourth had been taken over by the local Hare Krishna society.

All these threads came together at the symposium, held most appropriately in the centennial year of the Champaran Satyagraha. Wonderfully curated by Londoner Simon Marks, textile designer and natural dyer, who spends a lot of time in Jaipur and Kutch, there were seminars, workshops, discussions, film shows, a bazaar, and excursions to weaving and dyeing centres.

Participants came from across India, Africa, Japan, Thailand, Jordan, Salvador, Great Britain and Bangladesh to exhibit their skills and share knowledge, playing their part in promoting and reviving indigo, the oldest natural dye known to man.

A scale model of an indigo dye manufacturing unit, a replica of the one in London’s Kew Gardens, made for a fascinating study. There were collections of indigo-hued and inspired works of art, to be worn or displayed, as well as indigo fabric installations, including a maze-like room separator by Kolkata designer Santanu Das. Natural dye artist Ajit Das’s exhibits emphatically announced the range of this dye between hues of blue, purple and black.

We are reliably informed there are more blue jeans on this planet than there are people, and Jesus Ciriza Larraona, a Spaniard, is currently working with dye manufacturers in Tamil Nadu and elsewhere to develop organic dye for Levi’s jeans. He also manufactures organic indigo clothing for Auroville.

Ruby Ghuznavi, a reputed crafts researcher who has done much to revive organic dyes in Bangladesh, was a keynote speaker here. Living Blue, a unit of CARE, Bangladesh, works to empower weavers, indigo farmers and dye-makers in Rangpur in the northern part of the country. It specialises in exports of kantha and indigo-dyed fabrics, using the Japanese Shibori technique, for personal wear and home furnishings.

Clearly, the increasing use of organic products in a polluted world has led to the current revival of interest in sustainable indigo. And, as it did centuries before, the dye is bringing the world together.

The author, who lives in Kolkata, keeps rediscovering it, often with wonder.

source: / The Hindu / Home> Entertainment> Art / by Patrick Sanjiv Lal Ghose / November 04th, 2017