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Tuesday 21 February 2012

Calcutta Corner Now that King Khan will be the ambassador for Brand Bengal, and Gujarat has Amitabh Bachchan, let's see which other state takes the lead of getting a filmstar as its ambassador DOLA MITRA

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Subject: Calcutta Corner Now that King Khan will be the ambassador for Brand Bengal, and Gujarat has Amitabh Bachchan, let's see which other state takes the lead of getting a filmstar as its ambassador DOLA MITRA

Calcutta Corner
Now that King Khan will be the ambassador for Brand Bengal, and Gujarat has Amitabh Bachchan, let's see which other state takes the lead of getting a filmstar as its ambassador

A Timeline At Last
Here's the latest on the AMRI fire which killed 91 – mostly patients of the hospital – in December last year. Calcutta police has finally announced a timeline for filing chargesheets against the directors and employees who are languishing in jail. It told Calcutta High Court that by next week all charges will be framed and placed before the court. The trials, which are eagerly awaited, will subsequently begin. The case has generated so much controversy, that the public hearings are expected to be attended by large numbers of people. Answers to questions – such as what caused the fire, who gave orders to close the gates which prevented patients from escaping the burning building or why local slum dwellers were stopped from entering the premises to rescue those trapped inside, not to mention why proper fire safety norms were not in place for such a high-end establishment – will eventually emerge, and justice delivered, we hope.
Yes, Shah Rukh Can!
At least that's what Mamata Banerjee thinks. The Bengal chief minister feels that the super hero has what it takes to pull the state out of its image as a decaying has-been and catapult it to the halls of fame with his charisma and popularity. This week the TMC government made it public that King Khan will be the ambassador for Brand Bengal. The parochial-minded expressed surprise at the choice – after all, he is Bollywood, not Tollywood. Be that as it may, he does own Calcutta's IPL team, the Kolkata Knight Riders, and that's a good enough Bong connection for most. Many have welcomed the decision, arguing that Shah Rukh doesn't belong to any one region but to his fans all over India. Maybe Mamata Banerjee was also trying to prove that she isn't going the Raj Thackeray way, as some believed she was, based on some of her recent actions. She had been accused of Bengali parochialism after the AMRI fire because most of those arrested belonged to a particular community. But she has answered theses accusations by pointing out that the accused simply happened to belong to a particular community, and they were in no way singled out. All I can add to all this is the observation that our states are all marketable products now, each in need of a celebrity endorsement. We have Shah Rukh and Gujarat has Amitabh Bachhan! Let's see who's next.
Goray Gondogol
Much of what is dished out in Bengali movies and television serials in the name of comedy is nothing but 'bharramo' – a Bengali word loosely meaing 'clowning' which aptly describes the low-grade overacting (characterized by desperate and exaggerated gestures and expressions as well as crass dialogue) which makes you cringe more than it makes you laugh. Not expecting much other than this kind of bharramo, I walked into a movie theatre to watch Goray Gondogol a recently released Bengali comedy film. It turned out to be a riot.
In the opening scene a pickpocket on a jam-packed Calcutta minibus makes a series of unsuccessful attempts at stealing the wallet of a young man. Suddenly, the young man turns around, disgusted, and hands the wallet to the thief and gets off. The thief is taken aback – "in all my years of stealing I have never been so insulted" he mutters – and follows the young man to return back the wallet. "I take pride in my profession and want to work for a living and cannot accept this," he says. In the conversation that ensues, the thief learns that the young man has lost all interest in life. Why? Because he wants to marry a girl but her father – a conservative Bengali patriarch – has only agreed to the marriage under the erroneous perception that the young man belongs to a wealthy 'joint' family replete with brothers, sisters, uncles, aunts, cousins, grandparents and a host of other relatives befitting a pedigreed family. In truth, the young man cries, "I'm a bastard." The plot resolves around the thief assembling an ad-hoc family for the young man comprising other pickpockets, petty thieves, rogues and rascals, hooch lords, pimps and a prostitute. Most of the comedy is situational. In one of the funniest moments in the film, the girl's father is brought to a rented mansion which he has been told belongs to the family. When he wants to see the portraits of their forefathers, he is shown a framed photo of William Shakespeare that hangs on the wall. The father is very impressed. He says, "I've seen this man somewhere before." And then exclaims in glee, "Oh what pedigree." Directed by Aniket Chattopadhyay the film is running to packed houses.
Taslima Nasrin has gifted her cat Minu a twitter account. The controversial exiled author had found the kitten in a fish market in Calcutta seven years ago and brought her up to be as fearless as herself. Calling her, 'my daughter,' she had once introduced her feline child to me, when I went to the author's Calcutta house some years ago. Minu reminded me more of a tigress as she roamed around the author's spacious living room majestically. "I don't give her dead fish to eat. She prefers live fish. I encourage that because it keeps her hunting instincts sharp," Taslima told me. This was a few months before the author was made to leave Calcutta by the Left Front government which thought that the move would appease the Muslim votebank. Taslima has now written about Minu in a book which is titled after her. This was revealed to the world in Minu's own tweet: "My dear sweetheart humanbuddies, my mom wrote a book on me. The title of the book is 'Minu'. I am so happy! The book is available in Kolkata." Started on February 14, the day of love, Minu's twitter account already has 91 followers.

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