Slumdogs, Oscars, and Artists

Hey, shouldn't we get our fair share?The recent success of “Slumdog Millionaire” at the Oscars have resurfaced a new crisis that has often plagued us, the people of India and Indian origin. Well, I should possibly qualify that statement by saying that not everybody is complaining. In fact the slum dwellers are celebrating the Oscar win as their won victory. It is only those people who feel insecure of their reality has been complaining the most by accusing that these artists and film makers are making millions by exploiting the poverty of India. Many have been offended by the film’s title “Slumdog” as a derogatory comment on the slum dwellers. Some have even moved to the court and demanded that the film be re-titled. Some have been organizing protest rallies and meetings to awaken the masses against the western exploitation of our poverty. Continue reading

Mothers in Sex Trade : An In-depth Look

Mothers for Sale“My name is Shikha Morol. That’s not my real name, but I don’t want to tell you my real name. This is my name here. And please don’t take any pictures. I won’t allow it . . .”

The woman in front of me sat with her head bowed. She wore a blue synthetic sari with garish floral prints and a mismatched purple blouse. She looked neat and clean but signs of poverty were evident in her work-roughened hands and broken nails.

Her name, she said, was Shikha, “a little flame.” She said she was 30. I was surprised. I assumed she was closer to 50.

This is how one of the interviews with Sikha, a sex worker in Sonagachhi Kolkata, starts in Shamita Dasgupta and Indrani Sinha’s latest book, “Mothers for Sale: Women in Kolkata’s Sex Trade”. Continue reading

Cartoon of the Week 16: Healthcare Costs

Bank Report
I drew this cartoon long time ago to highlight the healthcare cost crisis. For the benefit of the readers who don’t read Bengali let me explain it a bit. The doctor looking at his patient’s charts comments that he is not concerned with his lab reports but he is concerned about his bank statement reports which of course is not good enough to bear the cost of treatment.
Healthcare cost management, one of the major election issues last year, is once again in the back burner – being overshadowed by the economic meltdown. Although the recent economic stimulus package contains a provision to modernize health-care record keeping which can potentially reduce some of the costs and also provide for some computer programming jobs, it can hardly put a dent on this monstrous problem. Health-care cost is poised to be the next bubble to burst and it can also have devastating effects on the population and businesses. This needs to be dealt with as soon as possible before the entire system disintegrates. Many hospitals are reporting higher rates of ER admissions for patients without insurance. This is expected with the high unemployment numbers. Soon the hospitals will be asking for bail out money. Continue reading

“Banaprastha” : ECTA’s New Production

ECTA presents

BANAPRASTHA

A play by Sudipta Bhawmik
Directed by Indranil Mukherjee

A senior Bengali virologist returns to India, after retiring from his medical practice of 35 years, to find peace, tranquility and solace amongst his family and old friends. But soon he discovers that his nemesis has followed him and he has nowhere to hide.

Cast:

Gargi Mukherjee, Samya Goswami, Keka Sirkar, Kaninika Dutta, Sudipta Bhawmik, Subhodev Das, Indranil Mukherjee, Pradeep Ramdass, Kaushik Dutta, and Lilabati Majumdar

Music: Partha Sarathi Mukhopadhyay

Edison Valley Playhouse, 2196 Oak Tree Road, Edison, NJ

Tickets: $20.00

Contact: Email: bhawmik@gmail.com, indymukh@gmail.com

Phone: 732 241 7060

Sahitya O Alochona

This month’s Sahitya O Alochana will be held on the fourth Friday, February 27, at 8 PM at Anandamandir.
The topic will be “The Story of India — the Aryan Migration.” I shall show portions of the first hour of the PBS series on the subject (:”The Story of India”) and then lead a discussion on the topic.

Jadio Galpo by Theater Workshop

Jadio Galpo : A New Play by Theatre Workshop
Friday February 13, 2009 at 6:30pm
Girish Mancha,
76/1, Bagbazar Street
kolkata, West Bengal Get Directions
Theatre Workshop presents

“Jadio Galpo”

A play by Sudipta Bhawmik
Directed by Ashok Mukhopadhyay

Sanjoy, a young software professional, has arrived in USA, the “land of opportunity”, for just over six months and works for a software body shopping company “InterSoft” owned and operated by Bill (a Bengali American living in the States for over thirty years.) On the day of the play Bill fires Sanjoy and asks him to go back to India. Sanjoy, however, is not happy with this decision and refuses to oblige. He informs Bill that he is not going to return to India under any circumstances. He states that returning to India is synonymous to signing a death warrant for himself. He cannot subject himself to such a grave risk. And to justify himself, and to win his ultimate motive, he has to make a choice between truth or deceit.

“Jadio Galpo”: Globalization in Bengali Theatre

Jodio GolpoTheatre Workshop, the leading theater company/group of Kolakata, will be premiering their new production “Jadio Galpo” at the Academy of Fine Arts theater in Kolkata at 3.00pm on Saturday February 7th. The play is written by yours truly and was earlier produced by our group ECTA in Kolkata and USA as “Satyameva”. The play has also been published in the Bohurupi theater magazine in 2008.

Theater Workshop, who under the leadership of Ashok Mukhopadhyay, is promoting the play as the first attempt in globalizing Bengali Theater. Globalization has affected Bengali theater from its early days with the contributions of Herasim Steppanovich Lebedeff and later with the numerous adaptations of western plays onto Bengali stage. But the play “Jadio Galpo” introduces globalization from a different perspective – it deals with the lives of the global Bengali. Bengalis are no longer limited within the geographic confines of the two Bengals, they have now spread themselves out all over the world. And, it is rare to see a play these days that talks about the lives of the Bengalis who live outside Bengal or Bangladesh. There has been some attempts in films (Bong Connection, The Namesake etc.) but Bengali theater has always kept themselves limited to their roots. In 2006, when our group staged “Ron” in Kolkata, it created quite a bit of stir. Ananda Lal, the theater reviewer of “The Telegraph” wrote in 2007 while writing about “Satyameva” – “The group from New Jersey who last year stunned Calcutta with their play Ron…”. And I believe that this effect was caused not by any production extravaganza, but due to the fact that possibly for the first time the Kolkata audience experienced a Bengali play that takes place in an American locale, a play that tells the stories of Bengalis in America.
“Jadio Galpo” also tells the stories of two generations of Bengalis in America – the veterans who struggled hard to reach their pinnacle of success, and the new comers or FOBs (Fresh Off the Boat) who with their H1-B visa are set to conquer the world by any means. But it also talks about hopes and dreams – dreams fulfilled and dreams shattered. The tales of the global Bengali also needs to be told – also needs to be listened too. Because it is only from a distance can one see one’s own world in a different light.

The upcoming show schedules are as follows:

Feb 7th, 3.00pm Academy of Fine Arts, Kolkata
Feb 13th, 6.30pm Girish Mancha, Kolkata
Other shows will be advertised in the local newspapers.

The play is directed by Ashok Mukhopadhyay who also acts in one of the lead roles. The other character is performed by Krishnagoti Chatterjee.

If you happen to be in Kolkata, I’d strongly encourage you to watch the play and give me your feedback.
Thank you.