Sundeep Bhutoria

Welcome to my blog. Do share your views and thoughts with me. Request visitors to keep their comments brief and to the point. I shall respond to you to the extent possible.
Thank you.
ess bee

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Wednesday, August 31, 2011

Khuti Puja at Chaltabagan

August 31st: Today afternoon I went to Chaltabagan for Khuti Puja of Chaltabagan Lohapatty. Currently, I am the Chairman of Manicktala Chaltabagan Lohapatty Puja Committee which is one of the famous Durga Pujas in city.
The Chaltabagan Puja is particularly famous for its unique style of pandals and also for the social work which the committee carries out throughout the year.
Over the years senior politicians, celebs from Tollywood, theatre personalities, eminent litterateurs, industrialists etc., have regularly visited this Puja.
Actress and MLA, Debasree Roy, accompanied me to the Khuti Puja today (picture).
Khuti Puja is basically like the Bhoomi Puja that is done before undertaking building of a house, construction of any project or factory or any permanent structure.
Khuti Puja
is significant because it is prayers to the gods to bless the construction work of the Durga Puja pandal and to grant a good start to the festival. It also done before starting or erecting any temporary structure like the puja pandal for festivities and pious occasions.
ess bee

Monday, August 29, 2011

Architectural landmark on the anvil

August 29: It was a frantic Friday last week while Saturday and Sunday were smooth.
On Friday evening I went to the G D Birla Sabha Ghar for Tin Addhyay presented by Rituparna’s Bhabna Aaj O Kal. Tanmoy Bose and Rituparna’s husband Sanjay started the performance while Bratya Basu recited poetry on Tagore. 
I met Soumen Mukhopadhyay, Ferdous (picture), Raya Bhattacharya (picture) and also had a brief chat with Bratya in the green room where he was getting ready for his performance (picture).
From Birla Sabhaghar I went home as I had a couple of guests over for dinner. After the dinner, at around midnight, I dropped in at The Park Hotel for T2 Cook Book launch party. I was the last guest to arrive. 
These events has left me with no choice but to give the premiere of Chaplin at Priya Cinema a miss.
On Saturday evening I missed the 22 Shravan Music Release at HiLand Park and Park Mall and went to Forum Courtyard (6th floor) where Rahul Saraf has opened a new marketing office where his new projects would be on display for the customers. 
I was amazed to see the detail of his new project Atmosphere and the manner in which it was presented. I must say that the new centre could well be passed of as any project showroom office in upmarket Singapore or the US.
I think Rahul has both vision and passion to build a project like Atmosphere in the city. 
If the project takes shape as per plan, it will stand out as an important architectural landmark in this part of the world.
As the Daily Mail has reported: “More stunning than the Taj Mahal? Indian building that could outshine ‘Monument of Love’ among dozens of futuristic designs”.
The project Atmosphere has been shortlisted from 120 projects across the globe for the People’s Choice Award at the World Architecture Festival to be held in Barcelona on November 4, 2011. It is the only project from India in the top three.
On Sunday afternoon I missed a musical event followed by lunch hosted Harsh and Madhu Neotia at Conclave Club Verde Vista.
ess bee

Friday, August 26, 2011

Nah! Nah! don't return missed calls from +6742 and +4382

Yesterday evening I missed out on ace fashion designer Sabyasachi's program Peeli Kothi at The Taj Bengal as I was engaged in conference call with UN associations' New York and Geneva offices.
The timings of the event and the conference call clashed due to the time zone diference and there was no way I could postpone the conference call that was fixed up three weeks in advance.
By the time the marathon conference call ended it was almost quarter to midnight. I was planning to retire for the day when my cell phone once again buzzed a few times and stopped. The number that flashed was an international number starting from + 6742. I presumed that it might be a call from any of the UN association offices which must have got disconnected.
I called back on the number and a gruff voice in raw Hindi told me that I had won a free mobile set. I presumed that it was one of those crank callers and said that I wasn't interested. He said that if I did not accept this offer my SIM would be blocked. I got a little annoyed and bluntly told him I wasn't at all interested. He tried to stretch the conversation and I had to rudely snap the line to cut him short.
I, like numerous others, have for quite some time been winning millions and millions of pounds in lotteries if the SMSs are to be believed. Sadly, many people fall to the wiles of the scamsters. Recently it was in news that a gentleman from Beliaghata had shelled out nearly Rs 1 lac as processing fee to get `SMS lottery' money that never came. The racket was busted when three Nigerians were arrested from Delhi's Pantnagar.
The next day I mentioned about this call to my point of contact in Vodafone, who, even before I could spell out the number, told me the call must have come from either 6742 or 4382. I was somewhat taken a back. She told me that these were basically high premium international destination numbers and whoever calls back on these numbers have to shell out a whopping Rs 100 plus per minimum units. She told me that many people who see this on their bills jump to the conclusion that their mobile service provider has cheated them. They, invariably, end up blaming and fighting with their mobile service providers.
I remember in early 1994 - 95 when I used to live in England there were certain phone services with designated number codes that had very high incoming call rates. The idea was to encourage the caller to be brief and to the point and end any conversation early or end up paying a hefty amount. Basically pay more if you wasting some ones time. In fact few company still have this kind of service in use.
After being briefed by Vodafone , it became clear that people, mostly from African countries, were using these codes to give blank calls at random to the people whose phone numbers they had accessed by various means. They target the numbers whose past bills shows that they make frequent international calls. Whoever responds to these international missed calls would end up footing huge bills while the cranksters rake in the moolah.
We all know how in friendship lines, using international code numbers, engage girls to entice people into lengthy chats to keep their cash registers ringing. Likewise, there are astrology, friendship and dating lines. But this missed call business is a new a strategy to fleece money from unsuspecting people who, often out courtesy, are just responding to a missed call.
As a child I used to hear stories from my grand parents and their folks that Indians have the best brains and the most ingenious ways of making money. True. It is indeed ingenious and also ignominious.
ess bee

Tuesday, August 23, 2011

Purba Paschim Theatre Festival 2011

Joy Goswami
August 23, 2011: The Purba Paschim Theatre Festival 2011 would be held in Kolkata from today August 23 to August 30, 2011.
This annual Theatre Festival is being organized with the support of Prabha Khaitan Foundation and dedicated to the 150th Anniversary of Kavi Guru Rabindranath Tagore. 
Mohan Singh
Theater groups from USA, Thailand, Bangladesh and other groups from across India would be be participating in the Festival.
Bibhas Chakraborty
As a part of the festivities, an exhibition was organized yesterday titled Khaled Chowdhury: Tribute & Journey on August 22nd, 2011, at 5 PM at the Gaganendra Pradarshasala on the occasion.
I attended the exhibition.
Rudraprasad Sengupta
Among those present included Sankha Ghosh, Rudraprasad Sengupta, Bibhas Chakrabarty, Joy Goswami, Mohan Singh, industrialist Partho Ghosh and other prominent personalities from the world of theatre.
I think Kolkata should organise more of these type of events which are annual affairs.
ess bee

Sunday, August 21, 2011

Tarun Tahliani show

With Tarun Tahliani
Sunday August 21: Yesterday evening, after concluding a couple of meetings I went to The Park for the Tarun Tahiliani Bridal Couture Exposition. Leading fashion designer of Kolkata, Anamika Khanna, who is a friend of Tarun, had personally invited me.
Surprisingly, when I reached there I could not find her. I met Tarun and inquired about her and he told me that she would join in later. When I left the venue around 9:15 pm, Anamika was still not there. I met Sanjay and Minu Budhia, Madhu Neotia, Madhulika Kanoria, Kiran Uttam Ghosh and others.
I also met the Dugar family who are into gems and jewellery and known to me from many years. They would be sponsoring, like last year, the Pronam Bijoya Cards for this year.
ess bee

Saturday, August 20, 2011

Namita's novel

August 20, 2011: On Friday, I hosted a dinner for Namita Gokhale (pic) who was in Kolkata on my invitation for an interactive session on her recent novel Priya In Incredible Indya
Amit Chowdhury (pic), Suman Mukhopadhyay, Reba and Himachal Som also joined us over dinner and our conversation revolved mostly around Anna Hazare and the changing of West Bengal to Paschimbanga. 
This has been quite a literary weekend in Kolkata with three book readings and some other launch events, including Namita, Swapan Seth, and Aatish Taseer’s new novel Noon. Then, there is the Tarun Tahliani bridal couture exposition at The Park tonight and a painting exhibition at The Oberoi Grand being organised by Isha Modi.
Moon Moon Sen
I think, given the sheer number of events and functions that we have, the celebs of Kolkata surely will find it helpful to hone up their time management skills in order to make it to all of the events and functions. There is also the city’s traffic factor that gets worse by the day.
As far as the book reading at The Conclave is concerned, Moon Moon Sen did a fantastic job in just a day's notice. 
Rita Bhimani, Namita Gokhale, Moon Moon Sen and Sujata Sen
I am really thankful to her that she filled in for Suhel Seth’s absence in such a commendable way. Let me mention that it was the first time for her. 
Sujata Sen, Director from British Council also attended the interactive session along with Rita Bhimani who moderated the evening.
ess bee

Thursday, August 18, 2011

Puja plans for Pronam members

August 18, 2011: Today afternoon I had a meeting with Shukla Tarafdar, AO Pronam. This was followed by another meeting with the three convenors. Our meeting was long over due since we could not work out a common date due to my pre-occupations and frequent travels.
Various issues were discussed and it was decided that during the Pujas, we'll send greetings to the Pronam members and also request the Kolkata Police that like last year, this year too, they could make it convenient to issue a special pass to be sent to the senior citizens to visit some of the prominent Puja pandals through the VIP entrance.
Today evening Namita Gokhale will be coming down to Kolkata to participate in tomorrow’s event at The Conclave which I am organizing in collaboration with The Conclave.
Suhel Seth called up this morning to say that he'll be flying back to Delhi to attend an urgent meeting of Tata Sons and hence would not be able to attend tomorrow’s event. He left us with no option and I requested my old friend Moon Moon Sen to fill in for tomorrow’s Book Reading event to which she very kindly agreed. I also got a courtesy phone call from Sharmila Tagore who was in Kolkata for an event withy Soumitra Chatterjee at the Netaji Indoor Stadium.
Kapila Vatsayan called up from Delhi and I had a long chat with her regarding the proposed Agyeya programme in Kolkata. She came up with some good suggestions which I shall discuss with Om Thanvi and Ashok Vajpeyi and implement it.
ess bee

Wednesday, August 17, 2011

Tanmoy's play

August 17, 2011: Yesterday evening I went to Kalamandir to watch a play `Natun Bhabnay Tasher Desh'.
I went there on a personal invitation from my friend Tanmoy Bose (file picture) who also happens to be the director of the play. This play, based on Tagore's Western opera-influenced famous dance opera Tasher Desh, was presented by Celebrations International.
The story is about a Prince who feels suffocated in his palace and goes out in search of adventure accompanied by a far more conventional travelling companion - a merchant. The mismatched pair get shipwrecked and find themselves in the Land of Cards where the inhabitants are playing cards, well regulated and devoid of emotions. With the wild force of his personality, the Prince starts to effect change in the Cards and gradually their humane qualities begin to emerge.
This play is an experimental venture as far as music and choreography is concerned. The songs for this vibrant play were sung by popular a group of non-Rabindra Sangeet singers who revere Tagore. The dances have been choreographed in various genres including Manipuri, Chau and Contemporary.
For the country cards, Chau dance, a folk-form from Purulia and Saraikela, have been incorporated with its vibrant drum beats and masks. To depict change, contemporary dance movements have been used for which Rachel Krische of Leeds Metropolitan University (England) and Warda Rihab, dance director from Bangladesh, contributed by blending their respective styles into the dance.
I met Bickram and Jaya Ghosh, Usha Uthup, Reba Som, June Malliah, Rashid Khan, Amala Shankar and many other artistes. Krishna Bose introduced me to her son Sugato Bose who has been appointed the Chairman of Presidency University.
The front rows at Kalamandir were packed and I had a trying time getting a seat. I think the overwhelming response is the result of the personal equation that Tanmoy has with everybody. I wanted to go to The Times of India debate at The Taj Bengal but skipped it for Kalamandir.
Usha Uthup complained why I missed out on the CD launch with Nasiruddin Shah on August 14. I told her that I was out of station.
Today evening I shall miss the programme Rabindranath Tagore’s Tasher Desh being organized on the occasion of the Convention on International Relations by The Jadavpur Association of International Relations and supported by The Public Diplomacy Division, Ministry of External Affairs, Government of India, at the Rabindranath Tagore Centre, ICCR Kolkata.
ess bee

Monday, August 15, 2011

Independence Day tea party

August 15, 2011, Independence Day: I went to the Raj Bhavan for a tea party in the evening hosted by the Hon'ble Governor of West Bengal, M K Narayanan. This tea party is a traditional affair.
I noticed that this year's tea party was a lot more crowded than usual. Understandably, the people wanted to rub shoulders with those who are a part of the new state power structure. The gathering was attended by politicians, bureaucrats, defence personnel, celebs and ironically, very few freedom fighters in whose honour this tradition of tea party is hosted each year. The only ones who were absent were those who had leftist connections or leanings.
Met many eminent Kolkatans but most of them, amid pleasantries and forced smiles, were complaining about the sultry weather and humidity in the banquet hall. It gives you a feeling that most of them have stepped out of a finishing school - plastic smiles, measured talk, cautious mannerisms - trying to be politically correct.
All this gives me a creepy feeling that we are living in some Orwellian Big Brother society and not in Independent India. These days, people are afraid of speaking their minds and mask their true feelings. Independence means a society based on freedom of speech, freedom of expression. A society where the mind is without fear.
ess bee

Sunday, August 14, 2011

Where nature follows you in

ITC Royal Gardenia, Bengaluru, Lapwing Suite: The first green luxury hotel, Royal Gardenia, Bengaluru, is located in one of the city's elite neighbourhoods. It once again confirms the fact that Bengaluru is the Garden City of India.
The 292-room hotel has been designed by renowned architect Rajinder Kumar who had earlier designed ITC Green at Gurgaon and popularised the green building concept. A mix of sandstone from Gwalior and Malaysian red bricks on the exterior and blonde Italian marble floorings, it seamlessly blends in art and nature.
At the ITC Royal Gardenia, nature and the greens did not stop at the entrance. It came all the way in - thanks to Francesca and Patrick.
The hotel's interiors and walls have been created by Francesca Basu in a manner that portrays nature in all its hues and different manifestations. `Nature and its myriad life forms' is the common theme that runs through each rooms and floors. The use of colour, motifs, textures and relief work add to this.
The first floor houses the hotel’s spacious banquet area offering banquet space with a pre-function area of nearly 8000 sq ft and a separate party room of 2500 sq ft. Located on the same floor on the right wing is the Kaya Kalp Spa spread over 10,400 sq ft with seven treatment rooms with jacuzzis, saunas and steam baths, a salon and a 1100 sq ft gym complete with the latest fitness equipment.
This also happens to be the first hotel in India to create the concept of `vertical gardens' or `vertical wall of plants' designed by French botanist Patrick Blanc who has been inspired by the rainforests, especially the ability and adaptability of plants that vie for sunlight. Blanc has balanced the needs of soil, water and sunlight to create the lush resplendent indoor gardens that rise up from the open lobby to the ceilings high above. The lobby also connects the hotel’s main entrance to the Grand Arrival Court.
Each of these four vertical gardens show off a collection of 1500 plants. The Living Wall at The Cubbon Pavilion covers an entire section and has around 25,000 plants reaching up to 30 metres high to the 12th floor from where the daylight filters in to create an atrium effect. Much of the hotel's lighting needs are met from natural sources and is also supported by an energy-efficient lighting system. Plants too are graded as per the light required for sustenance and growth. Over 1200 species of Philodendrons brought in from the Nilgiris now thrive indoors.
This hotel is India’s first to have been granted permission to operate choppers from its roof top elevated heliport located on the 22nd floor. The 27 metre diametre heliport has received the DGCA approval and authorization to operate landings and take-offs under day VFR conditions – interpreted as day time operations only.
This exclusive and unique facility at the ITC Royal Gardenia is designed to cater to Class 1 helicopters with twin engines weighing up to 5.4 tonnes. All operations to and from the heliport are carried out by an experienced crew of two qualified helicopter pilots.
Today evening I shall return to Kolkata.
ess bee

Friday, August 12, 2011

In Bengaluru

ITC Royal Gardenia, Bengaluru, Lapwing Suite: I arrived here at Bengaluru on Thursday night. This was my first stay at the ITC's most talked about property.
During my earlier visits to this city, I had put up at either the Taj Westend or the Windsor Manor - the old ITC property - even though the ITC Royal Gardenia started operations. My personal friend Anil Chaddha is now the General Manager of ITC Royal Gardenia thus leaving me with hardly any choice but to switch over from Windsor Manor to the Royal Gardenia.
I shall be in Bengaluru this weekend.
ess bee

Wednesday, August 10, 2011

At the Red Sofa conversations

August 10th, 2011: Yesterday afternoon I went to Delhi and had a meeting with Jawhar Sircar, Principal Secretary, Cultural Affairs, Government of India. Nandita and Jawhar were known to me during his tenure in Kolkata.
The cultural fraternity of the country knows and accepts the fact that Jawhar Sircar is doing full justice to his post. Before him, the cultural affairs department didn't have a Principal Secretary and was being looked after directly by the Prime Minister. Jawhar Sircar was recently lauded by the Prime Minister in one of his speeches for the good work done by him.
Our's was an informal meeting in which I briefed him about my upcoming events and programs in Kolkata. I returned to Kolkata in the evening.
On Monday evening i went to The Conclave for the ‘Red Sofa’ conversation with Aparna Sen. The Conclave has started this series on completion of 25 years. Rita Bhimani normally moderates the `Red Sofa' conversations and I had missed the earlier conversations which including Mahesh Bhatt and Shashi Tharoor. 
This time Iti Mrinalini was the highlight of the `Red Sofa' conversation (picture).
Aparna Sen also answered questions from the audience, I met Gargi Roy Chowdhury, Usha Uthup, Sangeeta Dutta and Madhu Neotia.
Tomorrow evening I leave for Bangalore.
ess bee

Tuesday, August 9, 2011

Lata ji's unpublished interview

The Melody Queen of India, Lata Mangeshkar, was in Kolkata after almost nine years. She attended few events in the city and left yesterday.
The last time she left the city was on November 29, 2002. I remember the date exactly as I was on the same Sahara Airlines flight that night. That time, she had come to Kolkata was on Dona Ganguly's invitation. I came to know Dona through Lata ji only.
I remember seeing Lata ji enter the first floor Sahara lounge with her niece and then boarded the same flight to Mumbai. At that time, I used to write articles for a Hindi magazine called Sabrang and had done quite a few interviews of prominent personalities as a hobby. After the flight took off, I requested the air hostess for a pad and sent across a note to Lata ji seeking permission to ask her a few questions if it was fine with her.
Lata ji, as then and even now, in general, kept away from the media glare and the crowds. But luck was on my side and my excitement knew no bounds when she asked me to swap seats with her niece seated next to her so that we could chat during the flight.
Somehow, and for whatever reasons, the interview that I got from Lata ji, has not been printed till date. First it got delayed because Lata ji wanted me to collect a photo which I could use for this interview from Dona who had apparently given it to The Statesman, if I remember correctly.
I never got the photos till date and I too did not pen the interview and it never saw the light of the day. I have even today retained all the notes of that interview that I had scribbled down.
I am in two minds, should I leave it at that or go ahead and write it and even try to get it published. For me, the moments I shared learning about one of India's greatest legend from the legend herself would remain etched in my memory forever.
ess bee

Monday, August 8, 2011

Souked out

Yesterday, after the Prabha Khaitan Memorial Lecture on Panch Kanyaa, I had lunch at the Souk restaurant in Taj Bengal. Normally, whenever I go to The Taj Bengal, I grab a bite at the Coffee Shop or Chambers. I had been to the Souk when they had relaunched their new vegetarian menu. But yesterday, for the first time, I had lunch in their private dining room with Dr Sonal Mansingh who delivered the lecture.
The word Souk reminded me of the huge souk market that I had once visited on my way to the world famous Grand Mosque of Damascus also known as the Umayyad Mosque in Syria. It was the first recommended place for me to visit and those who have been to that part of the world know what an extraordinary experience it is.
For centuries souk or souq has been the common market place held outside the cities in parts of Africa and West Asia where caravans loaded with finest products from the neighbouring and far off regions would be on display for sale. At that time, souqs were more than just a market to buy and sell goods; they were also major festivals and many cultural and social activities took place in them.
Later, with the growth of cities and importance of marketplace, souks came to occupy a permanent place of operation in urban centres. Manama (Bahrain), Bizouriyya (Damascus), Saray (Baghdad), Khan Al Zeit (Jerusalem) etc are some of the prominent ones.
My lunch at the Souk was also an extraordinary experience. We Kolkatans mostly prefer Chinese or Italian when it comes to choosing non-Indian cuisine. But, if one really wants to discover imaginative flavours from the royal Morrocan cities of Fez and Marrakesh; Turkish gastronomic delights from Istanbul and Konya; the ancient intense flavours of Egyptian pickles; Grecian savouries from Crete, Dodecanse, Athens and other exotic flavours from Lebanon and West Asia – Souk is just the right place in city.
Dr Sonal Mansingh, who was to attend another function at the Science City, enjoyed the lunch immensely and the original plan for a quick meal stretched over two hours and at the end of which she complimented Chef Prasad Metrani, “This is the best international cuisine in India I have had.” We were completely Souked.
I am someone who doesn't have any fancy for ice-creams and usually stick to hardcore Indian food, was bowled over by the really fresh and innovative cuisine.
The Afro-West Asian gastronomic pilgrimage began with Mezze's or appetisers - Hummus, Shankaleesh, Tabbouleh – which were as exotic in taste as much as they sounded. This would followed by soup called Ash e reshte.
Chef Metrani rustled up two special dishes from the menu for the main course – Khudra Meshwi and Khorshet e asparagus – especially for us. But our gastronomic journey continued beyond desserts – B'stilla au lait, Ataif Makhli, Rose Petal Ice-cream - and concluded with sips of Turkish coffee and Morrocan mint tea.
I would, however, recommend, that the best item on the menu at the Souk is the unforgettable Rose Petal Ice-cream which is out of the world. It is refreshing and leaves you with the exhilarating feeling of fresh rose petals in the mouth.
The great thing about Souk is that it has brought together a diverse range of exotic cuisine using aromatic spices and traditional cooking styles to treat you to some of the most exotic dishes and flavours from some of the ancient civilisations of Africa and Asia that has been passed on through the ages.
Tomorrow I am flying to Delhi.
ess bee

Sunday, August 7, 2011

Sonal's mesmerizing lecture

With H M Bangur, Sadhan Pandey, Mohanchandran, Sonal Mansingh and Krishna Bose at The Taj Bengal after the Prabha Khaitan Memorial Lecture
Today morning there was a lecture by Dr Sonal Mansingh on `Panch Kanyaa’. She was the first guest speaker of Prabha Khaitan Memorial Lecture Series at The Taj Bengal. The event was hosted by Taj Bengal .
The city was lashed by rains for the last 40 hours and the Taj personnel were naturally worried that this would affect the number of guests. But Kolkata is always full of surprises and extra chairs had to be placed in the banquet hall during the lecture.
The lecture was for about 45 minutes and was followed by Q&A session but for an hour and half it seemed that nobody batted an eyelid nor did any mobile phone buzz even once during the lecture.
During informal discussion on Saturday evening at dinner, I became aware of Dr Sonal Mansingh's (picture) intellectual depth. But when I heard her lecture, not only myself, but all the guests including, Minister in the West Bengal Government, Sadhan Pandey, H M Bangur, Krishna Bose, Dona Ganguly, Chaiti Ghoshal, Arindam Sil, German Consul General, Mr Rainer Schmiedchen and his wife, Taj General Manager, Mohanchandran, were all mesmerized.
After a long time I had a good time at dinner on Saturday evening with two intellectuals - Aparna Sen and Dr Sonal Mansingh.
Today evening I will attend the anniversary bash of Prasun and Anuradha Mukherjee at The Park.
ess bee

Friday, August 5, 2011

Revving up for events in Kolkata

The last few days kept me busy in office preparing for the three-day event in Kolkata to mark the Birth Centenary of Sachidananda Vatsayan Agyeya, popular as Agyeya, at the Indian Council for Cultural Relations on September 21st, 22nd and 23rd, 2011.
Preparations are also on for another programme which I will be hosting in Kolkata to mark the Birth Anniversary of Late Dr Prabha Khaitan on the 28th and 29th of October 2011 based on the anthology In Search of Sita: Revisiting Mythology (Penguin India, 2009), co-edited by Malashri Lal and Namita Gokhale.
In the last three days, I had meetings with Rachana Banerjee, Chaiti Ghoshal, Koneenica Banerjee, Arindam Sil, Ujjwal Upadhyay, Partho Chatterjee, Arpita and many others regarding these upcoming events.
In fact, on Sunday (August 7) I am initiating the Prabha Khaitan Memorial Lecture Series which is being co-hosted by The Taj Bengal. The first Guest Speaker would be Dr Sonal Mansingh.
This evening I concluded a series of meetings and dropped in at Hyatt around 10 PM missing out on the main event - an enthralling melange of ballet and other exotic western dance forms titled The Magic of Russian Ballet - which I was looking forward to. 
With Marc and his wife
This event was organized by Mark Lorenz, General Manager, Hyatt Regency, Kolkata, and Rana Vikram Anand, Co-Head, Commercial Banking, The Royal Bank of Scotland, NV, were the co-hosts of the event.
I had a brief chat with Marc and his wife (picture). Though Marc has been in Kolkata since early 2011, I only met him this evening. Earlier he was in Santiago and I chatted with him about Chile. He told me that he was the Manager in one of Santiago property where President Smt Pratibha Patil had come with a delegation to Chile and stayed and how he organized the reception with Indian food.
Tomorrow evening I have invited Dr Sonal Mansingh and Aparna Sen to my home for dinner.
ess bee

Monday, August 1, 2011

Twin film premiers in city

Last weekend, there were two film premiers in the city. A panel discussion at the Town Hall and a party for the new Television Channel, besides the regular events.
With West Bengal Finance Minister Amit Mitra
I missed the TV Channel party at The Oberoi Grand and the premier of Bengali film System, directed by Ringo, at Fame. I, however, did attend the premier of Iti Mrinalini at Priya on Friday and also got to meet quite a number of friends from Tollywood and the West Bengal Finance Minister Amit Mitra (picture).
The movie, directed by Aparna di (picture), was very different from the films we usually see at the theatres these days. It is a tough job to act in and direct the same film. The film conveys many messages through the lives of various characters.
With Aparna Sen
This weekend I also went to watch the much talked about film Zindagi Na Milegi Dobara. No doubt, this film has excellent photography, beautiful locales etc. Spain may see more tourists from India but what about the youth who are going gaga over adventure sports having watched the film.
It is my personal view that this film would do more harm than good to our society. The youth of India may try to imbibe the adventure sports shown in the film. Movies like these have a certain appeal among the college going students and may invigorate the student throng in a negative way.
We must accept the fact that India doesn't have this kind of lifestyle, nor the equipment or training to hold such adventure sports. Trying to copy all that is shown in the film may physically harm youngsters.
This argument of mine was ruled out by a group of friends who said: "So this means nobody should make films that show what the other countries of the world do."
What I am trying to say is that Indian movies are still restricted to what we may call facts. And that what is fiction in Hindi movies are also seen by villagers who don’t have electricity but still go to the nearest town to watch films.
We know how the kind of impact The Three Idiots had on college students. Likewise, these youth-oriented films would have an effect on the youth and society.
Today evening, I will miss the Swiss National Day at The Oberoi.
ess bee