NABC 2010 : The Plight of the Domestic Performers

Anwesha and Abhijeet at NABC 2010Finally 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

Countdown to NABC 2010

Sapphire Creations Dance WorkshopThe count down to NABC 2010 has started.  In little more than seven months from now, Bengalis from all over USA and abroad will converge upon Atlantic City in New Jersey. Kallol of New Jersey, the host organization of NABC 2010, is working at a hectic pace to make it a great event. Most of the performers have been lined up, registrations pouring in and the committee members are busy working on the final details like scheduling and fund raising. On January 8th, 2010, a kickoff meeting/press-conference will be held in Kolkata in the presence of most of the artists and performers.

Lets take a look at some of the foreign performers who will grace the Atlantic City convention center stage. I’ll not be able to cover all of them in this article and plan to continue in future posts.  At the 2010 NABC Kallol will be presenting some performers who are relatively unknown to the Bengali crowd in USA. One such group is Sapphire Creations Dance Workshop who will be performing at the opening ceremony.  Sapphire Creations  is a premier experimental dance company based in Kolkata and the only one of its kind in Eastern India performing regularly and popularly in festivals and arts events in India and abroad. Their objective is to integrate in its dance an awareness of tradition, a dimension of experimentation, an urge to entertain and a purpose to provoke consciousness to inspire us to reach brighter horizons. Continue reading

Goodbye NABC 2009 – Welcome NABC 2010

NABC Time Zone On July 4th, Saturday night, the curtains came down upon the NABC 2009 at the San Jose McEnery Convention Center. But as the NABC lights faded out in the West Coast, Kallol of New Jersey got into full gear to herald in the NABC of 2010 to be held at the Atlantic City Convention center from July 9th to 11th, 2010. Although I was not able to attend the San Jose NABC, but judging from the excellent coverage on Urhalpool, it seemed that it was a successful one from an overall perspective. It seemed that the shows ran on time (which was unthinkable even a few years ago, NABC seems to have fixed that vexing problem and made this cartoon irrelevant), they were entertaining and dazzling, food was good, as were the long adda sessions. The second generation kids also seemed to have enjoyed themselves, some made new friends and some met old ones they met at previous NABCs.

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Community News Bites: NABC 2009 and Urhalpool

North America Bengali Conference (NABC) 2009 kicks off at the San Jose Convention Center on July 2nd. The biggest Bengali event of the year will run till July 4th and will feature some of the best performers from India, Bangladesh and USA.

Urhalpool editor Goutam Datta will be awarded the “Distinguished Service Award” at NABC 2009 on Friday, July 3rd at 6:45PM in “Banga Mancha”. The award is given by the Cultural Association of Bengal (the umbrella organization of NABC) for helping the cause of propagating and nurturing Bengali culture in North America.

URHALPOOL (www.urhalpool.com) had been chosen by NABC2009 as their internet media partner. URHALPOOL in association with NABC2009 will be presenting extensive coverage of the event for all 4 days from July 1st to July 4th. Catch up with all the NABC excitement at URHALPOOL(www.urhalpool.com).

On June 26th, Anandamandir hosted their monthly “Sahitya-o-Alochona” meetings where the attendees discussed the celebrated Bengali poet Joy Goswami. The attendees read Joy Goswami’s poems, discussed the artistry of his work and shared their personal experiences with the poet.

Tauryatrika 2009 [the annual cultural program of Bharatiya Kala Kendra - BKK] was a mega success. The event started with an excellent and highly interactive seminar, followed by screening of a movie on Ustad Bismillah Khan [directed by Goutam Ghosh]. In the cultural program, students of BKK put an excellent presentation. At the end, Bappi Lahiri was on top of his form.

Search for Idols

Indian Idol Anu Malik 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.

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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.

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