Chel Chitong – In search of myself

It was exactly one year after. The suffocation had started. Memories rushing in, jostling for space. I needed time out. Needed to go somewhere which was uncharted, far from everything I had known. I needed to go far from the Madding Crowd.

A friend had magnanimously offered her beautiful and quaint homestay in Chel Chitong.  This is near Gorumara, in a place called Paparkheti.

I decided to pack my bags and leave. I have been travelling quite extensively (extensively for my humble soul, anyway) for the last one year. Something was driving me away from the city, from the known memories, from the life I was living here. Trying to get over the betrayal from so-called friends, of women bringing women down, being portrayed as a typical Bollywood vamp… I was trying to get over a lot of hurt and lick my wounds in private. I needed to go somewhere and gather myself; I was tired of putting up a brave front.

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Me with the kids, though Kriti no longer a kid – rather has become a confidante, and Shraboni – my friend turned sis, boarded a train that took us to New Mal Junction. We were met there and started our journey towards Chel Chitong. The serene mountain air, the pines, rhododendrons and the sharp bends were most exhilarating.

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We reached Chel in an hour. The homestay is almost in a private gorge. Walking down steep stone curved stairs, we could hear streams gurgling forth. The two rooms currently available are straight out of a fairy tale book. Windows opening up to endless green, colourful and twinkling bamboo lights gently swaying in the wind, tiny fireplaces!  Table laden with simple yet delicious food, laid out in the open… under the sparkling blue sky that became overladen with grey clouds when the mountains were sad.

I sat under a tall pine tree and read boChel Chitong 02oks. A small waterbody, where Boogie and Homy threw stones to create ripples, the crickets and birds keeping me company.  And when the wind blew… the dried leaves made a strange rustling noise… dead leaves being blown away like doing away with all that is redundant, all that is inessential.

We would walk to the private waterfall every day. A narrow, up-hill-down-hill trek leading to the waterfall.Chel Chitong 07
Clear, cold, bubbling water that, perhaps, could mirror your soul. We would lie down on a carpet under a small shed and listen to the sound of the water. Eternal and elemental. Far above, trucks like the ones Boogie played with when he was little, would move by a winding road. Time would pass slowly. Kriti would hum to herself, Boogie and Homy would bring bouquets of unknown small flowers for us. I would lie there with my eyes closed, rewinding life, and then open them to see that the world hasn’t changed. It’s only me, who’s trying to come to terms with the changed times.

Chel Chitong 04Darkness in hills come down suddenly, like a blanket thrown on you. We would light a fire and toast our cold feet or we would have bonfires. Under the clear, starry, inky black sky, we would tell each other ghost stories; every small sound here and there would be like someone walking over a grave!

I have been to places, and I will be going to other places. Chel offered a balm to my soul. It’s that gem that is tucked away in your heart, the memories remaining precious forever. The time spent would be like an album, of which I will keep turning the pages.

I will go back to Chel everyChel Chitong 06 now and then – to be at peace with myself when the burden of the world becomes a little too much. I will go back to Chel whenever I can. Because I found myself at Chel. Because you find yourself at Chel.

Thanks to Brinda Sirkar, Shraboni Bose and Purba Ray Chaudhuri. Couldn’t have made this trip without you.

 

Love & light.

Sudarshana.

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Joydeep Roy- a tete a tete

joy1Joydeep Roy, is a known name in not only the Kolkata designing circuit, but pan-India as well.  He burst into the designing scene in the year 2013 And since then hasn’t really looked back.

Joydeep lived up to the saying,” that details are not the details, they make the design”; and went on to start Coloroso, a niche handloom saree store which immediately brings to mind a burst of colours, a meaning and an exclusivity all its own.

Joydeep left a high paying job and went on to chase his dreams, encouraged by his wife – a different and a colourful dream!

It’s not every day, that we come across such bravehearts, who can to chase a rainbow, leave an established career. We sat down for a tete-a-tete with Joydeep, and here’s an excerpt from the same.

  • Were you always planning to bedeck gorgeous women?  what were you doing prior to this Avatar?

Well… Prior to this Avatar, as you call it, I was a Salesman. Well, I still am to an extent, but then I was selling Dantmanjan! (I roll my eyes). It’s true, after graduating from Management School, I joined a FMCG Multinational Organisation and then later on went on to sell diesel, fuel, BFSI, Telecoms…. You name it. But while working with big brands, I realised that servility isn’t exactly my cup of tea, and Voila!joy2

  • When did you then decide to take a plunge?

As I said… It was more of an inspiration and a thought process that I wanted to create a brand and leave a routine job. I wanted to be a creator… wanted to create things, visions. I wanted to create A brand that would have a recall value and a brand that I can be proud about.

Products which can be sold off the shelf and products which would have the mystical alluring charm & grace of the six yards. And as I mentioned earlier, I just coined the term Coloroso… because I wanted my brand to have everything to do with colours…colours and more colours. Thus Coloroso.

  • When did you exactly start out?

It was precisely on the 10th of August 2013

  • In this journey, there must have been numerous highs, but what comes to your mind right now, when we are talking?

There’s been lots and lots of memorable moments so far.  Taking the decision to start something on my own was a major high only! Difficult to single out incidents, but one definite high would be Ms Vidya Balan dropping in at our store to pick up our sarees!

  • Why do you think your aesthetics are different?

I firmly believe that my aesthetics are a little different cause I have tried to weave the six yards saga around the ethnicity of the Indian crafts only. I have explored the myriad and magical worlds of Benarasis, Chanderis, Linens.  Its actually having a fusion of modern designs with the traditional Indian crafts; and which are completely hand-made, which makes them of limited editions and exclusive, to the truest sense of the term.

  • If I were to ask you, that What’s that one song which is just on your mind right at this moment?

Pretty Woman! (Sees a whole lot of them, in his line of trade!!! We are certain)

  • Who has been your design inspiration?

It cannot be anyone else other than Sabyasachi.

  • In this chequered journey, what would you say is your personal quote?

Its fairly simple actually… “Life is a blink of an eye,so we must not ignore it. It’s precious”.

  • If I were to ask you, that amidst this plethora of saree designers and stand-alone stores; what actually makes Coloroso  and you ,different?

I would say, it’s our 4-pronged USP – Good Quality Fabrics, Unique Designs, Colours and last but no way the least, our Customer Services.

  • Off lately Coloroso in association with New Lights, Kolkata has taken an endeavour to rehabilitate some women from the Red Lights Area. What prompted you to do that?lavanya

Not wanting to sound superfluous, or pompous; I wanted to give something back to the society. These 5 women, all want to change the course of their lives, and I felt, that if Coloroso and I could at least do something for them; then there would be nothing better.

So, we have created and assigned a line of Benarasis on each and featured them too in those sarees. A part of the proceeds from the sale of those sarees will go to these girls, whom New Lights will help to charter a different life path. Frankly, it’s been one of those fulfilling things that one does in life. I’m glad I got associated with this project that we are calling Lavanyashakti.

  • What are your plans for the future? Where do you retail from?

We want to be present in all the major cities in India by the end of 2018. Currently we are available in Collage Shop in Bangalore and Amethyst in Chennai.

  • Just a couple of very personal question….

Shoot!

  • What are the books in your bookshelf right now?

I just read Girlfriend in a Coma by Douglas Cookland… Then the one by Murakami-  Men without Women

  • How do you relax, at the end of a taxing day?

I read… listen to a lot of music and cuddle up with Oliver, my dashing golden retriever.

  • How has life been?joy3

Life’s been good. Touchwood. My wife Aparne, has been an immense pillar of support. My son, Aneek is in 1st year and is one my buddies! So, I am living, loving and having a lust for life.

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Re-discovering My Kolkata

I moved back to Kolkata after spending 16 years in Mumbai (with a small stint in Gurgaon) and realised I hardly know my city! I always argued with people claiming that my city is beautiful and is rich in heritage; but in order to justify that I needed to know the history of Kolkata, needed to walk and roam in the lanes and discover the unknown, see how its history is waiting to be told to people. I started my walks with Manjit Singh Hoonjan and he took me to Bow Barracks, showed me Kumartuli and got me elated on my visits to Mullick Bazar flower market and the fish market near Sealdah. That was the beginning. Then I started my Heritage walks with Tathagata Neogi and Anthony Khatchaturian getting to know about the history of Kolkata.

KolkataI saw the mess (boarding house) where Sharadindu Bandyopadhyay resided and where the first story of Byomkesh was conceived… remember the mess where Byomkesh sought refuge to catch a drug peddler? The mess is in shambles now, but it’s still there, and I was thrilled. The entire story came alive in front of my eyes!

 

KolkataI had read about the cemeteries in “Gorosthane Sabdhan”; how Feluda (our all-time favourite detective) solves a mystery which revolved around the South Park street cemetery, and a visit was a must. The cemetery turned out to be a huge source of information for me, especially when you see a tomb which clearly has a Hindu influence and get to know about Colonel Charles “Hindu” Stuart who was considered eccentric since he constructed a temple after acquiring a Hindu wife.

 

KolkataI was fascinated to learn about the first Italian restaurant opened in Dalhousie area by Chevalier Federico Peliti (who was an Italian Chef serving the Viceroy Lord Mayo), of which only an engraving on the wall remains. And guess what? I was shown this in the middle of the night during my heritage walk.

 

 

KolkataI saw the Black pagoda in Kolkata, Madanmohantala in Baghbazar which has the original deity of Madanmohan, and for the first time came to know that St Johns Church has a painting called The Last Supper by Johann Zoffany. After seeing the painting, I realised that it is not an exact replica of da Vinci’s Last Supper and has an Indian touch – with a styled sword, water jugs and water bags made of goatskin. My love for Kolkata just compounded and I have started documenting this journey on my Facebook page called “Kolkatar Katha”.

I am an ardent Ray fan and Aparajito is an all-time favourite! Who can forget Apu’s journey to realise his dreams and his struggle in an unfamiliar city? Yet, he doesn’t give up, he dares to dream big, fantasize, wants to carve a niche for himself. Above all, he doesn’t give up… I think there is a trace of Apu in all of us, and films like this somewhere become synonymous with our lives. Haven’t we left our comfort zone and ventured out to give reality to our dreams? Sarbajaya’s (mother of Apu) wait for her son to come and visit her is now a regular story in most of the households in Kolkata ….

I tried to locate the place where the movie was shot in Kolkata. It shows the location as Patuatola Lane which derives its name from being the quarter of painters or Patuas. It connects Surya Sen Street with MG Road. The area was between College street and Sealdah station, and had a large number of boarding houses catering to the outstation students. Writer Bibhutibhushan Bandopadhyay resided in one of the boarding houses when he was a teacher at Khelat Ghosh’s school in Esplanade. Apu too, stayed in one of the boarding houses here, when he came to Kolkata to pursue higher studies. Here are some of the gems I collected during the quest.

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Patuatola Lane

 

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Apu with a house in the backdrop. The picture shows Apu trying to find his place, as he arrives in Kolkata. The house at the background has a connection with Ray too. This house belonged to Satindra Bhattacharya who had acted in “Mahapurush”, adapted from Porshuram’s “Birinchibaba”. Who can forget his role as the young lover whose muse was under the spell of a spiritual guru, and who took it on him to break the spell and eventually manage to win her heart!

 

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One of the lanes where Apu stayed as depicted in the movie

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The lanes had many boarding houses or messes catering to the outstation students and the office-going babus

 

 

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Apu entering the Royal Press, where he started working part-time

This is the house depicted as Royal Press in the movie. This is now renovated, but still retains some of the old-world charm.

This is the house depicted as Royal Press in the movie. This is now renovated, but still retains some of the old-world charm.

 


Turni DharTurni Dhar is the National Sales Manager for an imported wine company. After getting her education in Kolkata, she spent 16 years in Mumbai and a year and a half in Gurgaon, before moving back to Kolkata again. Turni is a true Bengali at heart and idolizes Satyajit Ray, loves Uttam Kumar and Kishore Kumar. Her favourite author is Ashapurna Debi but she also loves reading Sunil Gangopadhyay, Sanjib Chattopadhyay and Suchitra Bhattacharya. She loves to sketch, has a penchant for travelling and is passionate about photography. Turni is currently in love with Kolkata’s history.

Pic Courtesy: Turni Dhar

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“A Death in the Gunj”- movie review and tête-à-tête with Sirsha Ray

death_gunj1I saw A Death in the Gunj last week. There’s a sense of haunting melancholia that has stayed with me since then.

The movie, set in the 1979 of McCluskieganj, deals with a discordant family and certain very complex inter-personal relationships. The pace of the film is nuanced and measured, and it is probably this laid-back pace which at times lends an almost eerie feeling to the movie; being unhurried, it builds up a tension somewhere in the pit of the stomach.

gunj4Konkona Sen Sharma , in her first debut feature film does a laudable job in  etching  out each character with precision and also uses her actors beautifully. The protagonists excel. Om Puri and Tanuja need no mention. Ranveer Shorey as Vikram is superlative and you will hate him for showing his ruthless side and machismo. Gulshan Devaiah as Nandu is at times cruel and yet there’s a sense of kindness too. Tilottoma Shome delivers a very controlled Bonnie. Kalki Koechlin is absolutely the seductress and yet vengeful Mimi.  She uses sex unabashedly and doesn’t feel the need to hide her brazenness.  But the character who will stay with you is Vikrant Massey as Shatu . He will just be sitting behind you as he was, and be with you even as you come out of the theatre. He is the conscience as Soma A Chatterjee mentioned. The first scene is from his perspective… the camera angle is from within the dickey of the car and in the last scene, his death and he sits on the conscience of Nandu and Brian.gunj3

Based on a short story by Mukul Sharma, Konkona has created an atmosphere of studied casualness, yet underneath every layer lay a sense of mellowness in an otherwise disquieting mood.  The period feel of the film is never overtly or forcefully created. The sleepy Gunj is not shown in great detail, yet the ambience and the period is almost a character in this movie. Every frame in this movie is worth a watch and some are sheer poetry. The shot when Shatu packs his bag and the window is half open with the mosquito net rolled up or the insect being burnt with the magnifying glass or the jerky movement leading up to the catastrophic climax. And then there is the shot of the sun setting on another day and the tyre swinging by.

This somehow reminded me of The Seagull by Chekhov. Konstantin just shot himself and Shutu of Vikram Massey reminded me of Ramaprasad Banik in the adapted play staged by Chenamukh called Pakhi.

I asked Sirsha Ray, the cinematographer (we have been to school together) about his journey starting from the year 1999 till date, at the time when he started and how he started.  While writing this I realized that how he started and how he got into FTII Pune, post an M Sc, or how he honed his skills and what he watched while learning his skills; call for a separate article.

sirshaSo here’s an excerpt from a tete-a-tete with Sirsha Ray about A Death In the Gunj –

Sudarshana – How it was working with Konkona SenSharma, the Director in her debut feature film, as both of you started your career together in 1999 with the film called Ek Je Ache Kanya?

Sirsha – It of course felt nice when she called me to shoot her film. Because we had worked in the first film and subsequently had done other work too, there was an easy camaraderie between us which helped in the entire process. I have always found her an extremely keen observer about all the genres of movie making. She is very very meticulous about her craft and had her ideas and visions distinctly sketched out.

Sudarshana– You have worked both with the mother, the famous Ms Aparna Sen and now her daughter Konkona as Directors. Any thoughts on that?

Sirsha – Aparna Sen is one of the most prolific film makers of our times and a name to be reckoned with. But with Konkona too, it never felt that it was her debut feature film. Being different individuals, their point of view and their art of story -telling are completely different. But both have an innate and a natural ability of storytelling.

Sudarshana  — What was the most challenging shot in A Death in the Gunj?

Sirsha –  It would be difficult to say off hand which was the most challenging shot!

Sudarshana – I insist!

Sirsha – Okay! The shot when the planchett is taking place, and there’s this string tied to the foot of an actor and the camera had to move out of the room to the corridor, following the thread… that was a little tricky shot. Then there are apparently fairly simple shots… which were the most challenging. For example, when the car first comes in and the car headlight falls on the name plaque, or the shots where everyone was looking for Tani. There’s just a minute or a half when you can take these shots, because in the next minute it will be pitch dark. These times, bordering between dusk and evening are my personal favorites, but the planning for these shots have to be absolutely meticulous and there can’t be retakes. These can be called a little challenging, in terms of the technicalities.

Sudarshana  – What is/ are the most satisfying shots from A Death In the Gunj?

Sirsha – (Laughs) Ok… Every cinematographer will probably tell you this, that the most satisfying shot was edited out, but that editing has made the movie what it is. It was required. So… can’t tell you that too.

Sudarshana – Again, I insist… what is the most satisfying one amongst those which remain in the film?

Sirsha – The one when the sun sets amidst the branches of the trees and the empty tyre swings. That kind of sets a sense of melancholia creeping in and yet that shot if taken out of the context of the present film, still etches an indelible mark.

That then… was our take on A Death in the Gunj and a small question-answer session with the eminent cinematographer who have made the dark and dismal shots poetic in this film.

Do watch the movie. It needs to be watched and rewatched because you will discover layers in each of those viewings.

Let us know your thoughts.

Till then

Love and light

Sudarshana

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NARCISSUS-STAN: confessions of a selfie-addicted kid

IMG-20161002-WA0049Hello to everyone who took out some time and stopped by for reading this. So, when I was asked to write something for Kolkata Colloquy , I thought for a very very long time , I was confused and still remain so. I was not really sure about what I should be  writing about, but then chanced upon a topic. We take so many chances and risks in a day , taking another one won’t really spoil the game that bad, ehh?

so my post today is about selfies!

All of us take selfies, wefies, groupfies and all . You do, I do and so does everyone . Do a survey , I bet you won’t find 5 people who don’t. Come on, I mean we all love taking selfie ‘s and don’t hesitate to say that it’s almost a part of our lives.
But have you ever thought where the word selfie comes from? No? I haven’t  too. But close your eyes and think a little deeper , don’t  the words “Selfie” and “Selfish” sound  homophonous? And aren’t the practice of taking selfie ‘s making us a little bit more selfish that we used to be? Or maybe just a little more narcissistic than we already are?  We are becoming self obsessed with every selfie that we take.  We are looking at the mirror double the times that we used to, just in order to take a selfie.  IMG_20161030_071855_1496222949879
Recently,  a lot of cellular phone advertisements have taken  the innocent and playful act of taking selfies a little too further. The makers are trying to make a land full of selfie ‘ s  which is equivalent to making a land full of selfish people.  Also its almost the basic purpose of a phone is only about taking selfiees. Remember those days when there weren’t any selfies and we would ourselves click a picture or two for someone when asked too? Didn’t we click them better ? Weren’t we much more patient while clicking a picture? The biggest thing is we gave someone else time rather than looking into the front camera and caressing ourselves day in day out.
Remember what had happened to Narcissus?  He fell in love with his own reflection, and was unable to rise  and look beyond the beauty of his own reflection. He lost his will to live.  He stared at his reflection until he died.
scary, isn’t it? No, I mean please don’t stop taking selfies . I wouldn’t.  But can’t we lessen down our level of self – obsession a wee bit?
But come to think to think of it selfies aren’t that bad either.
Albert Camus had once said ” To be happy, we must not be too concerned with others” , so being happy and self obsessed is not  that bad too . Selfie is a very contemporary way of showing yourself , your activities and all that you love . So basically,  it is you who will have to do decide what and how selfies are to you and how important is it to show your narcissism.
So… go ahead, rack your brains and think of it. And do let us know.
#Justasummerthought
Much Love
A selfie addicted Kid.
Intro
Shreeja Sudarshana Bhattacharya is nearly 18. She aspires to be a cinematographer at times…  then again hearing from close family friends that it’s going to be tedious and will burn her alabaster skin,  changed her mind and now thinks will write copies. A voracious reader and a photographer with a panache,  She will be appearing for her plus 2 S next year and loves listening to music.

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