Bannya Concert in New York

A unique concert of Tagore songs with the accompaniment of Indian and Western musical instruments is planned for Saturday, July the 18th, 2009, at 6-30 P.M. at the fabulous sanctuary of the futuristic Saint Peters Church in the heart of New York City at 619 Lexington Avenue (corner of 54th Street), New York City. Rezwana Choudhury Bannya, the famed Tagore singer, will be the solo vocalist. Among the instruments will be Piano, Violin, Saxophone, Harp, Cello, Veena, Sitar, Flute, Tabla, Mandira etc. The musicians who will play these instruments are all accomplished artistes in their respective areas. This is the first time that such a concert is being offered where so many Western instruments will be played with Tagore songs (or any other Bengali song genre, for that matter) at the same session. As planned, Ms. Bannya will sing an average of two songs with each instrument individually. At the end, two or more songs are expected to be offered with all the  instruments playing together.

Suggested donations for the concert has been set at $100, $50 and $25, to defray the costs for the concert. Guests are requested to arrive on time and take their seats by 6-30 pm so that the session may start on time. The entrance is through the 54th Street south side doors, less than 50 feet from Lexington Avenue while walking towards Third Avenue. Discount parking is available at Metropolitan 51 Parking, 569 Lexington Avenue, south side of 51st Street, between Lexington and 3rd Avenue ($15 for upto five hours).. For getting the discount, the tickets have to be endorsed by a seal at the reception desk at the church entrance.

Those interested to attend the concert and collect tickets are requested to ontact: 347-570-7787, 917-770-0146, 718-414-9743 or send email at following adresses:
email: smullah41@yahoo.comsarwarharun@gmail.com

Banaprastha – Only if the message could be clearer

A Review by Amitava Sen

Banaprastha: Biswajit Kaberi and ParikhitAs I entered the theatre the house was full and audibly expectant; as the play ended crowd was visibly appreciative and a few even ecstatic which was quite an achievement and cause for satisfaction for the group of people who presented Banaprastha at Edison Valley Playhouse on May 31, 2009. The play was generally well produced. A full house helps to create an environment of connectivity between the performers and audience. Perception of a full house and ambience that it helps create encourage the players to be their best. Selection of this adequately equipped arena, small in size, reflects producers’ sensibility about the importance of interaction between the players and the viewers and economic prudence at the same time.

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Thank You

Suranjana and Pallab in BanaprasthaI’d like to express my sincere thanks to all those of you who came to watch our play “Banaprastha” (The Retirement).  We had full houses on all the four days and it was a testament to the fact that New Jersey Bengalis like to watch quality theatre if we can offer them. However, it was not only Jerseyans who came to our show, people came from Pennsylvania, Delaware, New York city and even Buffalo New York. The overall feedback has been extremely positive,  and people are asking for more shows.  Such encouragement is what makes all this hard work worth it and drives us to our next venture. We hope that with your good wishes, we’ll be able to keep up with your expectations and put New Jersey on the map of serious and quality Bengali theatre for time to come.

Thank you once again for supporting us.

Community News Bites: Banaprastha and Urhalpool

ECTA’s latest production “Banaprastha” premiered at the Edison Valley Playhouse on May 16th in front of a full house. The play was very well received by the audience as you can see in the accompanying video.  The second show was held on May 17th. Besides the video comments, here are some of the comments sent over the email.

We thoroughly enjoyed Banaprasta. This is a very timely production. I wish this drama can be viewed by millions Indians in India in view of the fact that India is crazy about Bollywood. Once again congratulations for presenting a great drama.” – Aurobindo Mukherjee

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Quillpad.in: A New Tool to Write in Bengali

Quillpad.in Bengali Web interfaceDo you write in Bengali or any other Indian languages? Try quillpad! Its a great new online wordprocessor for Indian languages. The cool thing about this tool is its flexibility in transliteration. One does not need to follow any specific set of rules. The tool automatically tries to guess the word that you want to type in, and also offers multiple alternatives.  This is an excellent feature because it can take care of  several Bangla spelling issues.  The documentation says that it works better on Internet Explorer, however I tried it on Firefox and Chrome and it works fine.  One issue I encountered was the limitation of Bangla font availablility. Currently the font used is “Vrinda” and it’s not the best Bangla font available. The other issue is that this tool seems to have limited formatting capability.  I am concerned about how effectively can this tool be used to write Bengali documents besides emails and small messages.

I plan to check this tool out in more details and write a regular article some time later.

Banaprastha Rehearsals in Final Phase

Parijat (Subhodev) and Pallab (Shamyo) in BanaprasthaAfter a long preparation phase, the end is now in sight. In two weeks time, ECTA will be launching their latest production, “Banaprastha” or “The Retirement”. ECTA’s play have always generated interest amongst the theater lover audience of this area and “Banaprastha” is no exception. People are eagerly waiting for the new play with lot of expectation. We hope this play will live up to that.

“Banaprastha” will feature some of the regular performers of ECTA along with few new faces. Shamyo Goswami, a newcomer to New Jersey will be appearing for the first time on NJ stage. Although Shamyo’s primary interest is in film direction (he has directed and produced a Banga Tele-serial featuring some of the top actors of Bengali screen), he is also an excellent actor. Subhodev Das, after a long hiatus, will be performing the role of the protagonist character – Dr. Parijat Sen.  Another newcomer is Pradeep Ramdas. Although not a native Bengali speaker, his love for Bengali theater is no less than any Bengali. In India, Pradeep was involved with the street theater movement. Pradeep plays the role of Ashok Diwan, a young business man of Kolkata.  Kaninika Dutta’s debut in New Jersey theater was with Pratham Alo, where she acted in the key role of Bhumisuta. Kaninika, after a long break, returns to the stage as Sudeshna. Gargi Mukherjee, the well known actress (you cannot miss her in Mira Nair’s film – The Namesake) also returns to an ECTA production after a long time. She performed in ECTA’s first production “Phera” (The Return) in 2004 as a guest artist. In Banaprastha, she performs in the role of Suranjana – a character that will touch the hearts of many. Kaushik Dutta, who won the hearts of many with his role of Nando in “Ron”, will also feature in an important character role.

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Jaynagarer Moa to be Patented

Bengali Sweet Jaynagarer MoaThe famous Joynagar moa, a confectionery prepared from date palm jaggery (nalen gur) and puffed, rice could be given a geographical indication (GI) patent. If awarded, the patent would be the second for a produce of Bengal, after Darjeeling tea. Also in the pipeline for a GI patent are Bardhamaner Sithabhog, Shaktigarer lyangcha and Mursidabad silk. Continue reading

Bhoomi : The Modern Voice of Bengal

bhoomi bangla band - surojit, soumitra, sanjoy, abhijit, hemantoBengali music found its new voice through band music that has recently proliferated across the land and one of the pioneers of this music is “Bhoomi” the legendary band from Kolkata. The key to Bhoomi’s success is their use of Bengali folk tunes and enrich them using modern musical arrangements. The six member team, with occasional guest artists, have been entrancing their audiences since 1999 with their captivating music. Folk musicals styles like baul, bhatiyali , moishaal, jhumur,saari gaan and qawaali constitutes the primary source of inspiration for Bhoomi’s music. Continue reading

Sahitya Alochona

Ananda Mandir invites you on Friday, Nov.21st , 2008 at 8:00 PM to join Sahitya O Alochana for an evening of discussion on Ritwik Ghatak. ?????? (?????) ??? the brilliant & famous bengali scriptwriter & filmaker that is compared with Satyajit Ray & Mrinal Sen. The discussion would cover his life, sense, impact influences, and manner of reinventing cinema.

All are welcome.

For further information please call 973-939-7375.

Cartoon of the Week 13: Prediction

Can you please tell me from which platform will the train depart?
Many of us are strong believers in astrology and other similar practices like palmistry, tarot cards etc. etc. that claim to predict one’s future. A huge industry runs on servicing such people and also provides employment to millions. The television and other media advertisements of such sooth sayers and fortune tellers prove that they earn enough money to invest in these marketing campaigns. The precious and semi-precious gem stone market in India depends on the belief that the negative influence of the planets and stars can be countered by wearing a specific kind of gem stone that can cost thousands of rupees. Continue reading

Twitter – The Latest Craze in Micro-blogging

In today’s world of minuscule attention span, writing and reading long blog articles are sure to lose popularity. After all the “text messaging” generation does not want to spend hours reading long drawn blog essays. Hence “micro-blogging” is the rave of the day and undoubtedly, the king of micro blogging is “Twitter”. The world blog comes from “Web Logs”, which implies that blogs are essentially online logs of the blogger ramblings, sort of like a diary or online journal. Twitter does just that, it allows users to write snippets (140 characters or less) of any message that you want to share with your friends of the world, and they get logged onto your home page. But the story does not end here. If you have a bunch of friends who are interested in you, who want to know what you are up to, who would like to “follow you”, they can link up with your “Tweets” and receive an update whenever you post something through tweeter. Check out my tweeter page http://twitter.com/bhawmik to figure out what I am talking about. For example, if you’d like to follow me, just click the link “follow”. You will of course have to sign up with Twitter before you can follow somebody. People who are familiar with Orkut scrapping or Facebook wall writing or status update should get the idea, except on Twitter you are doing a one-to-many messaging, rather than one-on-one with global access.
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Are you still Relevant?

by Amitava Sen
He was standing there outside the Puja hall wearing a pained look, like he has been left on the wayside by the world and ignored. I knew the man well, not intimately but well enough over three decades. I have seen him in most of the Pujas since 1976. Part of his misery was the October chill in which he was made to wait. I empathized and asked him what’s going on. It appeared that he could not produce the computer print-out confirming his registration which he claimed to have made on line. Later, one of the officials relented and finally produced his entry badge. It all ended well, so I thought.
But the man remained nonplussed. I asked him not to take it too hard. Doesn’t he realize that he is passé and he is irrelevant now? The Puja officials are quite within their rights. His mistake was to expect a 1976 style congenial familiarity. Too bad that the changing of the guards has passed him by, un-noticed, again his mistake. Continue reading

Some Reviews on ECTA’s Theater Festival


Recently a bunch of reviews on ECTA’s mini Theater festival plays have been published in various news and online media both in USA and India. I would like to share them with you, since many may not have access to these publications, especially those which are published in India.

  • Gautam Dutta wrote about “Satyameva…” in Sambad Bichitra (published by CAB). The review is in Bengali and to read it click here.
  • Gayatri Gamarsh wrote about the second day of the festival in Ananda Sambad. Click here to read that review.
  • Alolika Mukherjee’s detailed review appeared in Saptahik Bartaman in Kolkata. Click here to read it.
  • Madhu Rye Thaker writes about Satyameva in India Abroad. Click here.
  • Jyotirmoy Dutta writes about ECTA and Taconic Parkway in DesiTalk. Click Here.
  • Sambit Basu writes about Taconic Parkway in his blog “Monk’s Pearl“.

The opinions expressed in these reviews are solely that of the reviewers themselves. They provide us with different perspectives, but they can never replace the actual viewing of the play and its enjoyment. Plays, films and any other objects of art should be viewed and appreciated on your own. To get an wonderful perspective on reviews, I recommend watching the fantastic animated film “Ratatouille” and listen to the final review by Anton Ego (Peter O’Toole) the dreaded food critic.

Bangla E-Zines


The proliferation of internet and web technology has ushered in a new era in the publication of Bengali literary magazines. Any Bengali who has the slightest inclination towards Bangla literature must have been associated with some kind of “little magazine” related activity in some point of their life, be it writing, editing, publishing or even selling them to their patronizing clients. The thrill of seeing ones own writing in print fascinated them and hence whenever a few like minded folks got together, a visit to the printing press became obligatory. The smell of ink and the clanking of the printing machines was intoxicating to say the least – long hours were spent proof reading those smudgy newsprint and trying to pool in as much money they could by either begging the local business owners to insert an advertisement or by coughing up their own savings to pay the press owner. But the exponentially growing costs of paper and printing has often resulted in an untimely death of the magazine and hence the death of many literary dreams. Many of these talents also whither away just because they do not get the opportunity to be noticed by any of the leading print publications. Continue reading

Bangamela – The Festival for the Midwestern Bengalis


Bangamela 2008Just as the excitement and euphoria of the recently concluded BangaSammelan (Toronto) dies down, Bengalis living in the middle western states are preparing to get into a festival of their own – Bangamela.

The 10th annual Bangamela 2008 will be held in Columbus OH this year from July 18 to 20. The event is hosted by COBCA (Central Ohio Bengali Cultural Association). Just as Bangasammelan (NABC) is franchised and sponsored by CAB (Cultural Association of Bengal), Bangamela is managed and controlled at the high level by MABA or Mid America Bengali Association. Without going into the details about the genesis of Bangamela, it suffices to say that the Bengalis of the mid west felt that they needed to have a festival of their own, a festival that is located closer to where they live and is easily accessible compared to NABC that tends to get most of their attendees from the densely populated (with Bengalis) east and west coast states. Continue reading

CAB Honors Pronoy Chatterjee


The Cultural Association of Bengal (CAB) every year honors a group of people for their outstanding contribution to the society. This year, one of our closest friends, Pronoy Chatterjee has been awarded the “Distinguished Service Award” for his contribution towards promoting and nurturing Bengali literature in North America. His award letter reads,

You are one of the foremost literary personality in the United States who has helped the cause of propagating and nurturing Bengali culture in North America, the goal the Cultural Association of Bengal cherish. You have done so as founder of NJPA and through years of association with Kollol of Jew Jersey, Ananada Mandir and other well known organizations. Your contribution to literature and work on arsenic cleaning in water is also well known.
In recognition of your dedication, we have the honor to award you the “Distinguished Service Award’ during the 28th North American Bengali Conference.

Pronoy Chatterjee is an ardent author, has written two novels (a review of one of his books appear in this blog) and has been an editor or several Bengali magazines including “Kallol Sahitya Sambad”, “AnandaLipi”, “Ananda Sangbad” and many others. He has that magical ability to inspire people around him to be creative, to develop their literary skills that have been dormant in them, and to enrich the lives of the community members through their creations.

My heartiest congratulations goes to Pronoy-da for this well deserved award.

Podcast: “Baad Protibad” A (Hilarious) Play in Bengali



Last week I wrote about our new radio play “Baad Protibad” that was broadcast on EBC Radio 1170AM during the Sunday morning Bengali program “Probaho” conducted by Abhijit Sanyal. The play received quite a bit of positive feedback, and I thought that for the benefit of the people who could not listen to the radio that morning, I’d upload this play as a podcast. You can listen to this play by clicking the player above or download it into your iPod or similar digital players.

The credits are given below.

“Baad Protibad”
A Hilarious Play in Bengali by Sudipta Bhawmik

Produced by ECTA Inc.
Directed by Indranil Mukherjee
Cast:
Subhodev Das as Ashok
Aparajita Das as Kakoli
Indranil Mukherjee as Soumen
Anisha Das as Jhimli

Recorded and mixed at the Bharatiya Kala Kendra, NJ, Studio by Partha Sarathi Mukherjee
Edited by Partha Sarathi Mukherjee and Indranil Mukherjee
Music and effects by Partha Sarathi Mukherjee.
Song “Need some cash to fill up my gas” by Vikram Kumar

Please let me know how you liked the play. We may do more plays like this in the future.

ECTA Festival: Satyameva


Scene from SatyamevaAfter receiving wide critical acclaim and audience appreciation in Kolkata, New Jersey and Pennsylvania, ECTA offers an encore presentation of “Satyameva”, a play by Sudipta Bhawmik.

Sanjoy, a young software professional, has arrived in 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.

ECTA (Ethnomedia Center for Theater Arts) presents this new Bengali play (with English SuperTitles) at the Edison Valley Playhouse, in Edison NJ on June 28, 2008 at 3.30pm.
Admission: $20.00

ECTA Mini Theater Festival: Satyameva, Ashomoy, Taconic Parkway


After a long hiatus and constant requests from theater lovers, ECTA will be staging three plays on June 28th and 29th, 2008, at the Edison Valley Playhouse (EVP) in Edison, New Jersey.
On 28th June, Saturday, there will be an encore staging of “Satyameva” , a play by Sudipta Bhawmik, directed by Indranil Mukherjee; starring Sudipta Bhawmik and Pinaki Dutta.

On 29th June, Sunday, two plays will be staged. Theater Practitioners of Cleveland, OH will present an audio and video staging of “Ashomoy” a new play by Sudipta Bhawmik starring Saubhik Sengupta and Moushumi Sengupta.

This will be followed by “Taconic Parkway“, written and directed by Sudipta Bhawmik, starring Indranil Mukherjee, Keka Sirkar and Pinaki Dutta. This play will premiere at the California Natyamela on June 7th. Continue reading

North America Bengali Conference (NABC) and the North American Bengali


Undoubtedly, the North America Bengali Conference (NABC) or Bongosammelan, has become the key annual cultural event of the Bengalis not only belonging to the North America but also to the Bengalis all over the world. The amount of interest amongst the Bengalis back home in West Bengal is phenomenal. Artists of all genre’s (musicians, actors, writers) consider an invitation to perform at the NABC as a major achievement in their career. It was quite evident the other day when in one of the Bengali tele-serials/films, one of the characters (a musician) was expressing with pride about her recent invitation to perform at the Bongosammelan and highlighting the fact as a key measure of her success as a musician. Besides, any person who has been even loosely associated with any NABC organizing committee would know how they get deluged with requests from performers to get an invitation. However, the organizers of NABC are very careful and they place their bets only on the time tested popular artists with very few promising performers in the list. Continue reading