Those of you who missed our EBC Drama Club show on June 29th, 2013, don’t feel bad anymore. Here is the podcast of the show made available to you courtesy of EBC Radio and this blog. As I mentioned earlier you can also subscribe to this podcast on iTunes (on iPhone, iPod or Android phones, or computers). Just search for “NY NJ Bengali” and you’ll find it.
This week we had an invigorating chat with one of the most talented couples in New Jersey, Soumendu Bhattacharya and Arpana Bhattacharya. We talked about many different issues about their life on stage and how theater enriched them over the years. Soumendu and Arpana performed some clips from the plays they have acted earlier, like Sacrifice, Bhopal and Hayavadana. Listen to the podcast below and next time do not forget to tune in to 1170 AM at 12:00 noon on 1st, 3rd and 5th Saturdays of the month. Please give your feedback in the comments section below.
Unitarian Universalist Congregation of Princeton
50 Cherry Hill Road, Princeton, NJ 08540
Written and directed by Sudipta Bhawmik
Cast: Sankar Ghoshal, Keka Sirkar, Abhijit Neogy
Music: Akaash Deep;
Sound: Dwaipayan Mukherjee, Lights: Subhodev Das
(The event is free for active ECTA Members )
Synopsis: Basanta Koomar Roy, an expatriate journalist from India, has been credited by Tagore researchers as a key person (besides W. B Yeats and Ezra Pound) responsible for popularizing Rabindranath Tagore in USA. But Roy fell from his idol’s grace for reasons that torment many a biographer and journalist even today. “The Last Flames” attempts to re-examine the relationship between Roy and Tagore through a fictional encounter and gives us a peek at the human side of the great Poet’s personality. Samar, a young trainee journalist, comes to interview Basanta Koomar Roy at his apartment in New York city, sometime in 1948. Basanta is excited to share his experience as an Indian nationalist freedom fighter in USA. But Samar tells him that he is interested in knowing about his experience with Rabindranath Tagore, since he was the first to write Tagore’s biography in English for the American people. Basanta refuses to talk about his Gurudev until Samar uses his ultimate weapon that opens the flood gates of memories and emotions of this old admirer of Tagore.
The following obituary of Basanta Koomar Roy was published in The New York Times on June 8, 1949: Basanta Koomar Roy, Indian author and free-lance journalist, who had lived in this country for many years, died on Sunday in St. Luke’s Hospital after a brief illness. His home was at 116 West Eightieth Sreet. Born in Orissa Province, India, and a member of the Brahmin caste, Mr. Roy came to the United States around 1910 and studied at the University of Wisconsin, from which he was graduated and where he was later an extension lecturer. He was instrumental in arranging a lecture at the university in 1916 by the great Indian poet, the late Rabindranath Tagore. Mr. Roy was long a writer and speaker for Indian freedom and has been active in the Friends of Freedom for India. He was the author of a biography of Mr. Tagore and of “Dawn over India”, a book telling of the Indian underground movement against British rule.
Finally the 2010 NABC came to an end on Sunday July 11th at the Atlantic City convention center in New Jersey with a “blow out” performance by Abhijeet. Although his mockery of Bengali culture was not well appreciated by many Bengalees who slowly drifted away from the hall (which was not liked by the singer at all), his performance was just what was expected of a Bollywood performer – entertaining but nothing extraordinary. However, people who came to the conference went back with memories – some of which may not be very pleasant but I would think most of them would be happy memories. Memories of the wonderful performances by Sahaj-ma and Utpal Fakir, Kaivalya Kumar and few others, memories of meeting friends, those long adda sessions and the World Cup finals.
But the people who went back with a bad taste in their mouth (no, I am not talking about the food served by Shahnawaz) were the people who came all the way to showcase their talent through dance, drama and music. These people paid group registration for their show, paid individual registration fees for their entire troupe and spend big dollars to bring their show with the hope to share with their Bengali friends who came from around the country. Continue reading →
Sahitya O Alochana will be held on Friday, February 19, 2010, 8.00pm at Ananda Mandir. Topic for this session is “Barnomay Jibananda” featuring a discussion on Jibananda Das’s works including, poem, short stories, fictions, etc. Ms. Dhriti Bagchi will be the discussion leader for this session. Active participation from the attendees in the discussion including reading of Jibabananda’s poetry or prose is highly encouraged.
Please also note that the topics for the next two sessions (March and April) will likely be the following:
1) Jhumpa Lahiri’s work – discussion leader (To Be Declared)
2) Bengali Drama in North America – discussion leader Sudipta Bhawmik
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
The reality TV show “American Idol” has triggered a new trend – Idol search! TV channels all over the world are searching for idols – or talents. This search is not only limited to the television screen, but it has also proliferated onto the stage in various forms. Although the primary objective of this kind of shows is to screen for talent, in reality (excuse the pun) it is nothing but an entertainment show. The excitement, the drama, and the occasional emotional outbursts, are all part of the show. Undoubtedly, such shows do bring many talented men, women and children to the limelight, but is this the right way to do explore talent? In many cases, the exploration turns to exploitation – especially for the young participants. They have to go through a grueling screening process, sustain a tremendous pressure to perform, and then handle a barrage of criticism from the celebrity judges. I know in one dance show, a young girl couldn’t take the judges criticism anymore and had a nervous breakdown resulting in a paralytic fit. In several instances the young competitors sacrifice their education to continue the show. But the tragedy is, in most cases the winner is not judged by the celebrity panel whose criticism these young participants have to encounter, but rather by the audience through cell/mobile phone text messages (SMS). And in this process, the wireless carrier mints money. I am sure the show also gets their share of this income too.
After 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.
I was deeply hurt to hear the news of the death of Vijay Tendulkar, one of the greatest playwrights of Indian theater. It was only last year, at the South Asian Theater festival, I had the opportunity of meeting Mr. Tendulkar. It was an experience that I will never forget. He was physically frail, but his will was as strong as any young man. It was this will and his love for theater that brought him over here, few thousand miles away from home, to see how are we doing our theater. During his speech at the opening ceremony, the way he protested against the non-issuance of visa to one of the participating teams demonstrated that the fire was still burning within him – the fire that led him to write the plays that changed Indian theater. Continue reading →
On June 28th and 29th, ECTA Inc. will be presenting a mini theater festival of three plays. On 29th June, an encore presentation of the highly acclaimed play “Satyameva” will be held at 3.30pm. This play has received great reviews both in Kolkata and USA and has been recently made into a Telefilm (titled Satyasotyo for Tara channel) by the reputed actor and director of Kolkata, Chandan Sen. Watch the promo video by clicking the image above.
On 29th, the festival features two shows of two plays each. The first play, Ashomoy, is a novel audio-visual presentation by Theater Practitioners of Cleveland OH, directed by the veteran All India Radio and Doordarshan artist Saubhik Sen. “Ashomoy” will be followed by “Taconic Parkway“, a one act play by ECTA Inc. “Taconic Parkway” is a dark play of an immigrant Bengali couple and a visiting actor from India. The play premieres at the California Natyamela on June 7th, 2008.
Synopsis of the plays and other details are given below. Seating is limited, hence please book your seats as early as possible. Continue reading →
“Rakta Karabi” by Rabindranath Tagore has been considered by many pundits as one of the pillars of modern Bengali drama. The universal appeal of the play needed to transcend beyond the confines of the limited Bengali speaking populace and Tagore himself took upon the task of translating the play to English and gave it the title of “Red Oleanders”. Unfortunately, not too many productions of this wonderful play happened in the western world. One conjecture has been that Tagore’s language, in his translated works, failed to withstand the test of time as the English language evolved over the ages. Continue reading →