Recently I watched Woody Allen’s latest film “Midnight in Paris” in which the central character (Gil Pender), during his visit to Paris with his fiance’, manages to slip back in time to the Paris of the early 1920s. There Gil meets the greatest of the worlds literati during the period like F. Scott Fitzgerald, Ernest Hemingway, Gertrude Stein, Pablo Picasso, Salvador Dali and many others. Gil always thought that the 1920s was the golden age of literature and art and Paris was the center of this world. It was Gil’s dream come true. There in the 1920s Gil falls in love with the beautiful Adriana, Pablo Picasso’s lover. But to Adriana of the twenties, the golden age was “la Belle Epoque”, the European revival during the late 19th century. By a twist in the tale, Gil and Adriana travel back to the “belle Epoque” era to Maxim’s and meet Edward Degas, Toulouse Lautrec and Paul Gauguin, the great artists of the period. But when asked, these great artists say that to them the golden age was the period of Renaissance! Continue reading
Time magazine chose Mark Zuckerberg as the 2010 person of the year. A film on the life of Mark Zuckerberg is a strong contender for Oscars next February. He is twenty six years old and is worth 7 billion dollars. He drives an Acura TSX and rents a house. And he is the creator of the phenomenon called “Facebook”.
Yes, Facebook is no longer a website, it is a phenomenon. Social networking sites are nothing new. People on the internet started to commune together since the early days through bulletin boards, news groups etc., long before MySpace, LinkedIn, Orkut and Facebook came into existence. Newsgroups were there (remember soc.cult.etc.etc?) even before web browsers and web servers were invented. People have always tried to use the internet to connect and to share. Social networking sites like Facebook has given the people the ideal vehicle to connect and share. And of all the social networking sites, Facebook has become the most popular platform primarily because of its ability to evolve continuously. People have been able to connect with their friends after ages, they share their thoughts, their likes and dislikes, their photos and memories. It allows many to get their moments of fame and recognition from their friends and peers that was never possible before. It has become such a powerful attraction to many that some psychiatrists are considering Facebook addition as a diagnosable ailment. Continue reading
Few minutes ago an old friend of mine called to wish me for the upcoming Durga Puja festivals. He said, “It’s Mahasasthi in Kolkata today!” I wished him back, but it occurred to me that it’s Mahasashti everywhere, not only in Kolkata. When I reminded him, he laughed and said, “Yes indeed. But our Sasthi starts on coming Friday!” And he is absolutely right. Our Pujo in New Jersey (I am referring to the Kallol Durga Pujo which we both attend), starts on October 15th, Friday evening and that’s our Mahasasthi. The thought does give me some consolation that Pujo is yet to start and we have few more days to look forward too. But my friends and family in Kolkata have started enjoying their Pujo. They have started posting photos of their favorite idols on Facebook and Orkut, sending Pujo greetings through emails and expressing their joy and merriment. ETV Bangla is taking us through the streets of Kolkata and the online newspapers and magazines giving us day by day commentary of the Pujo happenings. And we cannot deny that this does cause a bit of a tinge in our hearts. Continue reading
Finally the annual Durga Puja celebrations are over. I was mostly present at the Kallol pujo but also paid (no pun intended) short visits at the Bharat Sevashram Sangha and Anandamandir. Kallol, just like the previous year, had a full house and had to turn away several people. In one of my previous blogs I had requested, rather wished, that Kallol provide a daily ticket for people who would like to come in for a day. However, for whatever reasons, Kallol decided on the contrary and the result was that I had to listen to complaints from several disappointed friends and family. Well, rules are rules – that’s what I said.
This year I did something which I never did before. I dropped in on Thursday evening – and it was real fun. There was no pressure of showing the badge, no parking tags, no stress about reserving seats with shawls and jackets and no celebrities on stage to pay attention to. While the volunteers were busy setting up the idol and the kids busy rehearsing on the stage, I had a good time chatting with friends. For once, after a long time, I had the pleasure of pure Pujo adda – completly unadultered fun. I think we should, at least informally, start the festivities from Thursday – just to prolong the enjoyment for few more hours. Continue reading
In New Jersey, Durga Puja is a special time when the festive mood brings with it a flurry of entertainment and cultural programs across the state. This year too the line up looks very promising although the spirits have dampened a bit due to the tough economic times and with the rejection of visas of few of the performers. Still the combination of local talents and professionals from India is bound to enthrall the Puja attendees on the coming weekends.
I’ll try to briefly summarize the lineup this year, although the organizers have in many cases conveniently omitted the details about the local performers from their web sites. I tried to collect as much information I could manage. If any of you have more information, then please feel free to add them to this post as comments. Continue reading
A Taiwanese Idol contestant is singing a Hindi film song. It is amazing to see how Indian films are being accepted all across the world. Globalization is great! Jay Ho!
After 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.
Gautam Dutta Receives Sudhindra Dutta Award
On February 15, 2009, “Janmadin” Literary Magazine of Baharampur Murshidabad, presented Gautam Dutta (of New Jersey) with the prestigious Sudhindra Dutta award for his collection of poems “Grihojuddher Dalil”. He received this award along with Krishnadulal Chattopadhyay, the folk poet of Bankura West Bengal. I congratulate Gautam for this achievement.
When you watch Danny Boyle’s latest rags-to-riches fairy tale “Slumdog Millionaire”, you’ll experience an emotional roller-coaster ride that only Mumbai can offer. The city that never sleeps, the city that is in the center of the center of the world (as mentioned by Salim in the movie), a city that has an economic and social contrast ratio of 20,000,000:1, reveals itself on the screen as Danny Boyle and his screen writer Simon Beaufoy (based on the novel Q&A by Vikas Swarup) masterfully crafts the film using the television game show “Kaun Banega Crorepati?” or “Who wants to be a Millionaire?” as the spine of the story. Indian slum and street life has been explored by many international film makers like Mira Nair (Salaam Bombay) and Roland Joffe (City of Joy) amongst others, but Slumdog brings to life the dark as well as the bright side of the city of Mumbai in a style that is shocking and heart warming at the same time. Continue reading
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.