The Queen Of Splits
Mamata Banerjee is turning out to be quite a pro at playing the divide and rule game. To tackle the Darjeeling crisis for instance, first she played the Gorkhas against the Lepchas when the former renewed their demand for a separate state soon after the centre’s decision to give a green signal to the creation of Telengana. She did this by praising the Lepchas for being progressive and not wanting to distance themselves from the mainstream. This immediately endeared her to the Lepchas and widened a traditional but not very pronounced rift between them and the Gorkhas of the region. This week she went a step further and seems to have set one group of Gorkhas against another. She did this by announcing during her visit to the region that she felt that Darjeeling had outlived its shelf life as the "Queen of the Hills"—the ultimate tourist destination of the hills of North Bengal—and that she would focus instead on developing Kalimpong. Now, this was a clever tactic. The Kalimpong Member of Legislative Assembly happens to be a member of the Gorkha Jana Mukti (GJM) party which is at the centre of the demand for separate statehood. But this announcement by Mamata has reportedly pleased him so much that it threatens to weaken the Gorkha separate statehood movement by dividing up the Kalimpong Gorkhas and the Darjeeling Gorkhas.
Writer's Building. File -PTI Photo/Swapan Mahapatra
Lifts After Facelift
Mamata Banerjee has also proved that when she sets her mind to it, she is capable of achieving the seemingly impossible. Putting an end to all the cynicism and doubt that surfaced when she declared that she wanted the state Secretariat shifted from the 1777-built Writers’ Building to the new multi-storied building called Nabanna across the river, she not only shifted—and it was a rather smooth sailing—into her new office lock, stock and barrel but has also settled in very well. She often appears on the deck of her 15th floor office overlooking the Ganges, looking relaxed and peaceful. But just when we were thinking that perhaps the newer, more serene surroundings have changed her, we got a glimpse of the familiar Didi this week. An angry Mamata was seen scolding lift operators because of the long queues of people waiting for the elevator. However, upon realising that it was not really their fault, she suggested that two other elevators be installed in the building. For someone who can take on the Herculean task of giving Writers’ Building a facelift, what's a couple of lifts anyway?
A Thousand Desires
On the occasion of the 2003 Sudhir Mishra film Haazaron Kwaeishein Aisi completing a decade, Pritimoy Chakraborty, Calcutta film buff and creator of the Purple Movie Town cinema studio invited the director, producer Pritish Nandi and lead actors Kay Kay Menon and Chitrangada Singh to the city to take part in a discussion about the film’s relevance today. An extremely engaging and heated debate followed with students from film schools putting poignant questions to the makers that ranged from questioning their positioning the film as a political story to minute details about art direction. Film studies professor Shyamal Sengupta speaking to Outlook pointed out, "The film is essentially a triangular love story and not the hardcore political story that it has been projected as. The treatment of the political—especially the politics of the Naxalite movement of the 1960s and 1970s—is narrow and cursory, reflecting the director’s unfamiliarity with the subject." In fact, Sengupta, an alumnus of the Film and Television Institute of India in Pune and himself a filmmaker and director Mishra had a verbal duel which turned an otherwise uneventful programme into a rather entertaining event. As far as organiser Pritiomoy Chakraborty is concerned, he says that such programmes, by encouraging thought-provoking discourse on specific films, will allow students of film studies to critically question and analyse films, something he hopes would go a long way in shaping the future of cinema in Bengal, if not result in a renaissance of the Golden Age of Bengali cinema.
Like Daddy, Like Daughter
Calcutta is the first Indian city to have got two members of the same family participate and win a jackpot in the national television game show Kaun Banega Crorepati. I had interviewed Ramesh Dubey, a Calcutta businessman, several years ago for the Telegraph where I worked then, when he had won 50 lakhs. This week I suddenly got a call from him. "Do you remember me?" he asked. "You had interviewed me after I won the KBC prize." When I said I did, he exclaimed, "Now my daughter has participated and won 25 lakhs on the show." This was more than just a happy coincidence. Ramesh Dubey had told me when I interviewed him that he is addicted to "general knowledge". He read newspapers regularly and watched the news on television without fail. He tried to inculcate in his daughter Neha the same habits of following the news. Like father, like daughter.
Manna Dey's grand daughters pay tributes. File - PTI Photo
Losing A Legend
On the death of Manna Dey, Calcutta’s streets were filled with the sound of the legendary musician's songs. Of all his songs, it's the hit Coffee House-er shei adda ta aar nei (our Coffee House conversations are no more) which seems to be the most popular. Neither have I met Manna Dey nor ever spoken to him. I would therefore share with you a tribute written by a friend, Partha Banerjee who lives in New York but whose love for Bengali music keeps bringing him back to Calcutta.
Dola Mitra keep dreaming on. The Left is not going to return to power in Kolkata in near future, you can consider migrating to Thiruvananthapuram (in future) or agartala to enjoy the bliss of Left rule
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