Tuesday, December 10, 2013

The Age-Old with the Modern

I happened to click this on my trip to Kolkata last year. I was on my way to probably one of Kolkata's biggest mall South City (at least that's what I thought based on how popular it is there) and was in a cab.

The cab stopped right opposite the mall in a small lane. And that is when I looked out and saw these two men, one old, one young, sitting there, oblivious to the world, working on with the utmost concentration.

The 'shop' they have looks more like a closet in a corner wall of some home, but it's their all. The signboard says 'Roy Enterprises' and it says something in Bengali, all of which I couldn't read, but the bottom line says that 'all kinds of chart papers are available here.' I quite liked the way it was written as we don't speak bengali that way, so it was a novelty for me.

The cab was waiting there for quite some time, but not for a moment did these two look up from their work. I couldn't help but realise that bang opposite was this swanky mall with Kolkata's decked up youth flocking to it sporting the latest fashion. And here was this lone young guy, sitting with the older man, carrying on with his work like any other day.

I moved on once the light turned green for us, but some day, if I happen to be near there again, I would like to look them up....

- Debolina Raja Gupta

Monday, October 7, 2013

Durga Puja Chronicles: Celebrations Galore

It's that time of the year again when I feel my roots and know for sure that I'm a Bong.....well, how else can I describe my love for this big big celebration of all that is so Bangaali? :-)

Since birth, I've celebrated Durga Puja with a lot of fun and looking-forward to. In Delhi, where I've been born and brought up and lived for the first 25 years of my life, Durga Puja was especially special, as it was THAT time of the year when we would proudly show off that we were bongs. The whole year would be spent in jeans and shirts and skirts, but come July/August, and we would start preparing for what to wear in the Puja days and when to begin shopping.

Thursday, October 3, 2013

Anupam Roy Talks About Durga Puja And His Thoughts

image source

(*the following appeared as a Bengali article in the paper EBela as part of Anupam Roy's column - Anupam Katha)

(for those readers who do not understand Bengali, yet love Anupam Roy's words, here's an attempted translation with as much as I could understand of the original Bengali version. Any mistakes are apologised for in advance)

The rain-soaked sombre skies shaded with blue smiles. The flowers giving off the holiday scent. The crowds on the streets, the excitement on the loudspeakers and the rolls-pakodas-phuchkas....all beginning the countdown to Durga Puja, in Anupam Roy's words...

Is it time already?

Where did so many people come from? What's happened to Gariahat? Is it already here? What month's this? But I barely saw any

Tuesday, April 2, 2013

Exploring Kolkata - My Way

Have I ever lived in the city? Yes, when I was a kid, I lived in Kolkata for about a year-n-half. During those months I spent in the city, I never liked it, forget about loving it. It was a mess, I didn't have any friends, I was very young, constantly missed my hometown Delhi and every single day craved to go back. The fact that my Bangla was not perfect and had a strong north-Indian accent didn't help; it only made me an 'outsider' amongst my class mates, and though they found it amusing and interesting, I always felt weird. I didn't like that phase, and still don't.

Thursday, March 14, 2013

An Interview With Anupam Roy On His Album Dwitiyo Purush: Courtesy Bengali Paper Ebela

I got to read the original Bengali version of a recent interview with Anupam Roy in the newspaper (?) Ebela (I happened to read it online). Since it was all in Bengali and isn't available outside Bengal (unless you're an e-reader of the paper), I figured it would be good to share it in a translated-to-English version just to let other non-Bengali fans and those who're not very proficient with the language enjoy the read too....I am reproducing the original interview here in a translated English version and have no ownership over it. Its not my work. Also, Im not a 100% correct in the language, so please do forgive me if I haven't been able to write it properly.

If you would like to read the online original Bengali version of the same, please click here

In a market that's going downward, he doesn't fear coming out with a single! Not a music director, he calls himself a 'poet' (I translated this from the Bengali word 'kobiyaal' and felt this is what it means, please correct me if I'm wrong.) After 'Dwitiyo Purush', Anupam Roy speaks with Sangveta Chakravarty.

He was busy in recording. The moment he heard of the interview, the first thing he wanted to know was 'how long will it take?' When I told him half an hour, he said, 'then let's go ahead and begin. Good if it's over, else will again catch up later.' The album Dwitiyo Purush, the singer-music director debate, love - an 'open' and free Anupam about all this on the pages of 'Obela'.

First I'd like to know about 'Dwitiyo Purush.' What kind of songs does it have?
Dwitiyo Purush has 10 songs. They're mainly based around romance, love. It's difficult to typecast the songs. The songs are similar to the kind of songs I generally do. They are written by me, and the music too.


Thursday, February 21, 2013

The Kolkata Chow...Chomping Glory

Okay, so what's this? Noodles right? Wrong, if you're buying this in Kolkata, precisely where this was clicked. If you're out to get some noodles in Cal, you must ask for chowmein, or better still, chow...

I didn't learn this for a long long time, in fact, it's only now on my recent few trips that each time I ask for noodles and the person mentions 'chow' I quickly understand what he's talking about. Earlier I would take time to think it out.

This picture is that of my typical lunch/dinner when I was in Kolkata for about a week. I was staying at a small guest-house in a place called Southern Avenue that's near the big Rabindra Sarobar Lake. It's a gorgeous little place, tucked away, cosy and amidst all the hustle bustle of south Kolkata. It's kind of become my home away from home. Whenever I visit Kolkata I end up staying here, and yes, I do quite miss the para when I'm back in Mumbai....

Well, back to the pic above, there was this tiny little food stall near the guest house that made these amazing noodles (chow), rolls and rice. I absolutely loved the Bengali touch to the typical noodles...so it was that once I tried it, I had it for lunch and dinner every time that I was not out somewhere and was in the guest house.

Wednesday, February 20, 2013

Crossing Kolkata Streets The Abbey Road Way

Okay, so today I woke up to read a piece in Mumbai mirror about how Mamata Banerjee was using the above shown poster around the city to encourage pedestrians to use the zebra crossing. The moment I read this there was one pic that immediately came to my mind.

Of course almost all music lovers and Beatles' followers are aware of this iconic pic...

But the one that came to my mind immediately was the one below....
Lol.....isn't that absolutely what you would love to see instead? I would!!! Desi flavour desi ilaaj.....If you're urging Kolkatans (is that what you call people who live in Kolkata? Please correct me if I'm wrong) to cross the road properly, why not use an image that features one of the most sought-after, popular and loved musician of today, and his amazing awesome band....!!!

I definitely vote for this one ;-)

Yeah, I know the zebra crossing is missing (you see this wasn't really that big a road, just a small lane), but what do we have the photo softwares for, right?

- Debolina Raja Gupta

Tuesday, February 19, 2013

The Aaloo Sheddho Gang!!!

It happened quite by chance today. I've always really loved eating that typical Bengali comfort food - aaloo sheddho bhaat with ghee and kaancha lonka.... While growing up in Delhi, this was never a part of our menu, but yes, sometimes if ma wasn't well, or if the vegetables were kind of in that stage when you're about to head for the sabzi mandi (those days we didn't have vegetable stores in malls, remember?!), the quintessential aaloo was what most homes would still have, and ours was no exception. So it would be a meal of daal bhaat and aaloo sheddho. And that's how I got introduced to it and fell in love with it.
Image courtesy kichukhonn.blogspot.in

Of course this isn't a dish that people from other cultures or regions know of, and I don't expect them to like it either. It's requires quite a different kind of palette to enjoy this one I feel. I remember once as a kid when I was visiting Kolkata and went to a relatives' house for lunch, they asked me what I would love to have and I replied - aaloo sheddho bhaat! Poor people! The poor things had toiled the whole day preparing a lavish Bengali spread, complete with various kinds of torkari (sabzi), daal, bhaaja, maachh (fish) and chutney and sweets, and all I wanted to have was aaloo sheddho! They were aghast and my parents were quite embarassed! Of course I didn't get to have it, though I did get to have that amazingly delicious Bengali ghee that I have loved ever since and of late have asked any visiting relative to pick up from Cal if they happen to come over here. I'm talking of that grainy brown ghee - Jharna Ghee!

Wednesday, February 13, 2013

Getting Fooled By Commercial Bengali Cinema: Luring For A Movie With A Fabulous Song

Okay, so this has happened quite a few times now and I'm wondering if I should completely avoid watching any 'commercial' Bengali cinemas. As it is I never watched Bengali movies except for the artsy ones that came to Delhi and other places, basically not living in Kolkata has always meant that I only get to know about the really good Bengali movies, ones that have garnered critical acclaim, international festival appreciation and awards. Thankfully, I had quite managed to stay away from the other ones.

But of late, as the trend changed and Bengali cinema suddenly began churning one amazing movie after another, albeit movies that would typically be categorised as 'artsy' or 'intellectual' or 'festival marked movies', I started thinking that maybe the other ones were worth a shot too. Till late I wasn't aware of Dev and Jeet....yes, I had heard the song Paglu, someone had sent it to me, and also the song 'Jaaneman' from the movie with the same name. Both songs featured the same female and frankly, anytime I have flicked through the Bengali song channel, hers is the only face I have seen and these two guys are the only guys I've seen. If that's the condition of Bengali main stream cinema today, well then, it's quite sad.

Anupam Roy's Second Album 'Dwitiyo Purush' To Be Launched on Valentine's Day In Kolkata

It's been quite a while that Anupam Roy's first album 'Doorbine Chokh Rakhbo Na' came out and smashed the charts! Of course it doesn't need to be mentioned all over again that the album was welcomed by fans of his music everywhere, not just in Bengal, and after much searching and waiting and searching and still waiting, I too managed to order a copy online.

But it's been a long time now and everyone was waiting for the second round of music to be released. And as if this is what Anupam Roy and the entire gang of The Anupam Roy Band was waiting for, there couldn't have been a better date for Anupam to release his second album as a gift to his fans - the album titled 'Dwitiyo Purush' releases this Valentine's Day, that is 14th Feb 2013. The album has 10 tracks.

Anupam Roy and the entire team of The Anupam Roy Band will meet with fans tomorrow for the launch celebrations in Kolkata.

Venue: City Center 2 at 5pm
Venue: City Center 1 at 6pm

It's going to be a meet and greet and NOT a live performance.......

Go on, pick up the latest album now and catch a glimpse of the man himself along with his amazing band!!!!!

- Debolina Raja Gupta

Wednesday, February 6, 2013

Bengali Script: My First Memories of Learning The Bangla Words

I've always been an avid reader, a compulsive reader who can't live without books! And for as long as I remember, I've been reading, my oldest reading memories being around the age I was 3.....While I was a kid, the scripts I was reading were English and Hindi.

My ma used to read me a lot of Bengali books of rhymes and stories that she used to buy on our once-a-year or once-in-two years trip to Kolkata, and if my grandparents or aunts were visiting, they would always brings some new Bengali books for me, that my ma would read out to me...Of course I didn't understand most of it, the words sounded unfamiliar and I there were so many unknown and alien words that I stopped asking about them after some time. The situations and the settings sounded different, like a different world out there, and I loved the dreamy, faraway feel of reading these stories from Bengal.

Tuesday, January 8, 2013

15 Minutes of Tolerating the 'Paglu'panti!!!

I first saw this face I guess about a year back. Before that I had no idea about who were the popular ones amongst Bengali commercial cinema (and by commercial here I mean movies that are meant for the masses, for anyone and everyone, that are supposed to be out n out entertainers without much of anything else being taken into consideration).

This happened when my satellite provider added a few more 'regional' channels to our pack, and as a result of which I got some song channel under the Bengali regional category. It was while browsing that I came across this young man, who, I later got to know, is Dev. To be honest, I liked his looks from the very first moment, in the sense that his eyes were pretty interesting, and he had sharp features, was a great dancer and was generally fit, tall and looked great on screen. And he was gyrating to a song called 'Paglu Thoda Sa Kar Le Romance' sung by Mika, that I found really entertaining.

From then on, every time I would browse through the channel, this face was always a constant, along with another, whose name I don't know, but whose pic I am sharing here, so if you know his name, do comment below for my knowledge ;-)

I know for a fact that this guy isn't a bengali, but I think he's lived there all his life or something like that. I like his non-conforming looks in Bengali cinema. I haven't seen any of his movies. So, along with Dev, this guy is the only other face I see on the one Bengali song channel I have, SB Superhits I think its called.

So now, getting back to what I wrote in the title about 15 Minutes of Tolerating the 'Paglu'panti!!!

Well, the one thing that I must give to this pair is that they look good, really good. I love the attitude, I love the styling, I love the way they want to flaunt themselves, which is pretty cool, and I love the way they are so confident of themselves and know that they are looking good...all signs of a kick-ass attitude that I so love!

By this time I had seen the song Paglu quite a lot of times and had started enjoying it a lot. And then, as happens in most cases, I thought if the song is so cool and the actors look so good, the movie must be super cool. I got the movie 'Paglu' on my laptop and decided to watch it. When the movie started, I got quite a shock, as I found it extremely tacky, nonsensical, idiotic, dumb, crappy, crass, silly!!!! You get the drift? And this was in the first 5 minutes. I thought it was just a phase and decided to forward the movie. But even that didn't help. The movie was horrible! And Dev, when he opened his mouth and spoke....all hell broke loose!!! It was as irritating as watching a road side crap guy trying to mouth hero-style dialogues from a Bollywood movie and try to look like a dude! I wish Dev didn't have any dialogues. I watched for 10 minutes and braced myself to try and watch a little more. But I could only endure the next 5 minutes....After 15 minutes of watching Paglu, I knew what I had to do. I closed the movie, pressed Shift+Del and forever spared myself and my laptop of being in the vicinity of this one.

For me, it was a sad demise of a movie, and of a star....For me, Dev will now only remain someone who looks good and dances well, but that's all....to me, he's not an actor, with all due respects to him and to his million fans.....Dev, if you read this ever (which I doubt), do know that this is not to show you down, but that I was really disappointed. And my readers, if ever you come across a movie of his that you think is really good and has sense in it, please don't forget to drop me a mention of it here in the comment section.

- Debolina Raja Gupta
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