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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Friday, March 30, 2012

Rajasthan - keeping the cultural flag flying

Friday, March 30, 2012: Rajasthan's rich and diverse cultural heritage is its hallmark. Today evening I was at a seminar that was attended by eminent writers, artistes and connoisseurs, who participated in an engaging conversation on the subject of art and culture in the state.
The seminar was organised by Rajasthan Sahitya Academy at the Suchna Kendra.
I was invited as a speaker to talk about culture from the perspective of a new awakening. Among other speakers were renowned danseuse Prerna Shrimali, Ranveer Singh, theatre artiste, Vijay Verma, cultural aficionado, K C Maloo, whose own brand of Veena cassettes is a household name as far as Rajasthani folk songs are concerned. 
Shyam Maharshi, President, Rajasthani Language and Literature Academy, was also present at the seminar.
Chief Minister Ashok Gehlot, who was supposed to attend the function, could not make it as the Assembly was in session. However, this was the first time all the State Academy presidents came got under one roof to discuss the cultural scenario in the State. There were some very fruitful deliberations.
Prerna Shrimali called for promoting and preserving classical arts along with the folk arts. Ranveer Singh urged the need to put in place a cultural policy so as to make it more relevant and in tune with the modern times.
Elaborating on the significance of culture in a materialistic society, I stressed on the need for a cultural renaissance or awakening since artistes from Rajasthan were not accorded due credit and respect. Instead of inviting artistes from other states, the government should first make efforts to promote local talent and also protect their interests.
I thanked Shri Ved Vyas, President, Rajasthan Sahitya Akademy, for inviting and giving me an opportunity to speak.
The positive outcome of the seminar was that all the speakers unanimously expressed the need for formulating a comprehensive cultural policy. I said culture should be separated from tourism. I personally feel that Rajasthan folk activities to promote tourism is passed off as the state's culture, which isn't true.
There were quite a number of functions lined up today to celebrate the Rajasthan Diwas but I found it appropriate to only attend this event.
ess bee

Thursday, March 29, 2012


March 29, 2012: I arrived at Jaipur today. Tomorrow is the Rajasthan Diwas, celebrated every year on the 30th of March to commemorate the momentous event of 1949 when modern Rajasthan came into being.
Though the actual process of formation of the state of Rajasthan took eight years to complete (1948 to 1956), the unification of erstwhile princely states into the State of Rajasthan on 30th of March, 1949, is marked and officially observed as the state’s birthday.
Rajasthan – the largest state in India – would be only 63 years old on March 30th, 2012, as per the official records. The history of the region, however, dates back to the ancient Indus Valley Civilisation.
This year, I have sent Rajasthan Diwas cards which was made available to me by Maharaja Sawai Man Singh II Museum Trust (picture).
This photograph was taken on 30th of March, 1949, when the then Home Minister, Sardar Vallabhbhai Patel, declared the formation of the State of Rajasthan. To his left is His Highness Maharaja Sawai Man Singh II of Jaipur, who was declared the first Raj Pramukh of Rajasthan (picture).
The erstwhile rulers of the princely states of the Rajputana can also be seen in the photograph.
ess bee

Wednesday, March 28, 2012

Remembering Dadamoni

With Amol Palekar
At Nandan yesterday was the inaugural function to celebrate the Birth Centenary year of late actor, singer, painter and producer Ashok Kumar who was also fondly known as Dadamoni.
An evergreen personality of Indian cinema or Bollywood, Ashok Kumar attained iconic status in his career that spanned over six decades. 
He was closely associated with Bombay Talkies and was honoured by the Dada Saheb Phalke Award and Padma Bhushan by the government.
With Anuradha Patel
This year being the Birth Centenary year of the thespian, Nandan and Tapan Sinha Foundation organized a three-day function `Ashok Kumar: His Light Years’ in collaboration with Prabha Khaitan Foundation.
Renowned actor Amol Palekar, who co-starred with the legend in the movie Chhoti Si Baat, was the chief guest at the inaugural function on March 27th 2012.
Director Basu Chatterjee (picture) was the Guest of Honour along with Moushumi Chatterjee, who featured with Dadamoni in the film Anuraag.
The family members who came down for the occasion from Mumbai included his daughter Bharati Jaffrey, granddaughter Anuradha Patel and niece Ratna Mukherjee, who was seen in a song sequence in Parineeta for which her father Arun Mukherjee had given the music.
With the family members of Ashok Kumar (Dadamoni)
I missed the function because of some prior engagements but I hosted the inaugural dinner to mark the celebrations at The Conclave. Renowned actor Amol Palekar, Director Basu Chatterjee, Ashok Kumar’s daughter Bharati Jaffrey, granddaughter Anuradha Patel and niece Ratna Mukherjee and many other celebrities from all walks of life attended the dinner.
With Alaque Padamsee
Today evening I will go the Lalbazar for a meeting with the Commissioner of Police, R K Panchnanda, Telegraph Metro Editor, Sumit Dasgupta, and others as there is a plan to start a new project for putting in place a Helpline for women in need or something on those lines. There is an initiative called Safe City while the new project would be taken up by The Bengal.
ess bee

Sunday, March 25, 2012

Reputations! One precedes, the other follows

A couple of weeks back, while travelling, I chatted up with a journalist friend of mine from Kolkata. I learnt from her that Roopa Ganguly had bagged the National Award for the best play back singer.
I, like Roopa herself and many others, was quite surprised by the news. Most people in Bengal and beyond know Roopa for her acting and proficiency in histrionics rather than for her singing abilities.
Roopa, a senior Tollywood actress, is remembered even today for her role of Draupadi in the national blockbuster serial Mahabharata. In Bengal, people know her as an established film actress with films like Antarmahal,Padma Nadir Majhi and Yugant, by directors Rituparno, Gautam Ghosh and Aparna Sen respectively, to her credit. A couple of years back she was again in the national limelight for her frank and bold confessions in the controversial serial Sach Ka Saamna.
Roopa’s singing abilities were hardly known beyond a small circle though she had formed an orchestra group with her cousins long before Dibyendu, her love mate, came into her life. But those who belonged to her friends' circle did know about her singing talent. She had even lent her voice sans music in one of the episodes of Mahabharata.
I have many memories of evenings at her house and in my drawing room when she used to sing all types of songs from Rabindra Sangeet to rock and Dibyendu used to strum the guitar. Roopa has always been a big fan of Dibyendu’s voice. In fact she is the one who introduced Tollywood and Nandan to me. Some years back when we both hosted the closing dinner of Kolkata Film Festival, She and Dibyendu had sung at a live performance.
I have not seen the film Abosheshey directed by Aditi Roy for which Roopa was given the National Award for best playback singing. But I was there at Roopa's house for an informal adda when the film was being shot and that evening on our request she had sung that song
However, in certain circles, this award has created a flutter and utter disbelief. It is more so because Shreya Ghoshal too was a contender who lost out to her. Roopa has gone on record saying that she loves Shreya's voice and it was she who best deserved the Award.
The question doing the rounds is - How can a non-singer, or anyone, who is not even from the singing profession, get a National Award for singing?
And if it is possible, then, Why not Amitabh Bachchan?
He too should have got a National Award for singing the immensely popular Rang Barse song in Silsila as this song went on to become a sort of Holi anthem in India.
If an award is given just because a song is popular, then I am sure there have been many deserving candidates earlier too. But it is also said that you just need one point to win a Noble Prize and just one film can fetch you that Oscar.
Many people from the music fraternity aren't comfortable with the idea of giving an award to a non-singer. But the fact of the matter is that the jury thought Roopa deserved it.
Roopa's reputation as an actress always preceded her. I have a feeling, her reputation as a singer would follow her like her shadow.
Before I end I must thank and congratulate Soumitra Chatterjee who has made us all proud by winning the Dada Saheb Phalke Award. I think it is time that our Tollywood gets more exposure and recognition at the nation fora.
ess bee

Saturday, March 24, 2012

Movie week

March 24, 2012: Last night late show I went to see Agent Vinod. Just before that I attended the premier of Anjan Dutta-directed Abar Byomkesh at Priya cinema. I watched both the movies one after the other in succession.
Last week turned out to be a `movie week' for me. Apart from watching these movies on Friday nights and evenings, I also watched Kahaani and Paan Singh Tomar. I had no clue that Kahaani would be a big hit when I was approached by my friend and producer of the film Arindam Sil to host a premier dinner in Kolkata on March 10, 2012.
I couldn't host this dinner as I was out of Kolkata on that day due to a prior commitment. I am planning to speak to Arindam and Sujoy Ghosh about a chit chat or an interactive session on the movie next month in Jaipur.
ess bee

Thursday, March 22, 2012

At a dubbing session

March 22, 2012: Today evening I went for a dubbing session for Pratim Dasgupta's maiden film Paanch Adhyay featuring Diya Mirza and Priyanshu Chatterjee (file picture of shooting).
I am in a cameo role. The shooting of one scene of mine was long over due since I had been travelling a lot in recent weeks.
Pratim, a senior journalist of the The Telegraph is perhaps one of the best Tollywood film reviewers after Nikit Asmi. It was on his request I agreed for a guest appearance.
This it is not my first time having been at a similar session, about 15 years ago I was at a dubbing session for a Tamil film in which I had a small role. However, this was the first time I have done so with such modern equipment and techniques. I was amazed to see how the voice can be adjusted accordingly to lip movements.
I had an informal adda with Priyanshu, Pratim an others at the Princeton Club. Debashree Roy, actress and MLA wanted to discuss few things about her forthcoming art auction also joined us at the Princeton Club.
ess bee

Sunday, March 18, 2012

What's there in a name!

Last week, I got a call from the British Council, saying my daughter’s application for a scholarship had been approved. The caller, who is a friend of mine, wanted to know why I had not told him about it. Nonplussed, I had to actually remind him that I do not have children yet. He got back to me later saying he had assumed it was my daughter because of a similar or same name as mine.
On Tuesday, as I emerged from an event, Mahendra Soni of Venkatesh Films told me that the driver who used to work for me in Delhi had joined his staff, and had sought permission to meet me the previous week. Again, I had to tell Moni that I don’t even have a car in Delhi, I never did.
Hearing this he thought his driver was being clever with him. So he called his car and asked his driver if he had met me. The driver looked blank and said no. Finally, it emerged that his driver went to meet some other person with the same name, who is associated with Stadel Hotel in Salt Lake.
A few years ago, film maker Anjan Dutt called me to say that he wanted to shoot in Stadel, but the staff had informed him that he needed my permission. I told Anjan that I was nobody to grant permission, and only later realised that there was someone by the same name at that property.
Once, at a The Park Hotel social gathering, a teacher approached me for an appointment, saying she wanted to join my educational institution which, of course, I had never heard of myself. I came to know later that some other Bhutoria had set it up. All I can say is that I don’t know how many Sundeep Bhutorias are there in town.
There have been so many other instances. Once, a Central cabinet minister asked me at a social gathering how my coal business was doing, and about the recent tenders I had got from the government of India. Of course, I have absolutely nothing to do with that particular business, and neither am I in the real estate or hotel business.
I remember, years ago, when I applied for an arms license, eyebrows went up in the arms department because I had ticked the box next to “never applied before”. Why so? Because police records said I had applied in the past and my application was rejected.
When I told senior police officials to look into the matter, I realised that a someone with a same name as mine had applied for a license at that very police station. I was given the license only after the department realised that according to the date of the earlier application, I wasn't even a teenager when I had supposedly applied for it.
I don’t know how many persons in this era have the same name as mine, but increasingly, in recent years, I have had to answer for things of which I wasn't aware of to real estate brokers, senior politicians, socialites, bureaucrats and several times to the media.
There are at least three other Sundeep or Sandeep or Sandip Bhutorias in town. I have never ever met any one of them formally. I also know of someone with the same name and surname as mine whose wife and father-in-law's initials are also same as mine.
What’s in a Name? Juliet had explained to Romeo. A lot! I say. It may lead to a Comedy of Errors or put one’s life in a Tempest. I wish the Bard knew what I have to endure. At times it can be a midsummer nightmare.
I hope it will pass.
ess bee

Saturday, March 17, 2012

A mixed day of many events

Saturday March 17, 2012: This evening I missed the dinner hosted by Honorary Consul of Ireland, Mahendra K Jalan, to celebrate St Patrick’s Day at The Oberoi Grand Ballroom, Kolkata. I also missed out on the presentation of a musical mono act Swami Vivekananda by Shekhar Sen at theScience City. This event was organised by the Press Club of Kolkata.
The very same evening, at another ballroom of Hotel Taj Bengal, there was a showcase of Paresh Maity's art which I, again, could not attend. It was with the Jaguar Land Rover held in association with Gallery Sanskriti.
The Press Club of Kolkata was kind enough to invite 250 Pronam members to watch the play as well.
We had yesterday organized a play “Notir Puja” at the Vidya Mandir auditorium. The play was directed by Mr Koushik Sen and performed by Ms Arpita Chatterjee, a film personality and a team member of our organization The Bengal. The play was presented by the theatre group called Swapnosondhani.
I, along with veteran footballer P K Bannerjee, Mr Chanchal Dutta, IPS Jt CP (Establishment) and Debasish Roy, IPS Addl CP (III), inaugurated the event by lighting the lamp (picture).
About six hundred Pronam members attended the programme. It was good that while the Pronam members from central Kolkata area could see this play while those from in and around the Science City area could enjoy the play by Shekhar Sen.
At our programme, Pronam member Mr Sankar Majhi, who was selected leader of Pronam from Parnashree police station area, was requested to share his experiences. Mr Majhi informed the audience that he was providing services to the Pronam members effectively just like the Liaison Officers of other Police Stations.
Mr Debasish Roy, IPS Addl CP (III), Kolkata, also encouraged Pronam members to adopt similar kind of pilot projects so that Pronam activities could be streamlined further.
To have local leaders selected from among the Pronam members would decrease the burden on the Police Force which is at present stretched for manpower as newer areas have been brought under its. We decided to a pilot project with Parnasree Police Station which was a success. Now we look forward to implementing the model in areas under other police stations.
ess bee

Wednesday, March 14, 2012

Lifestyle exhibition at The Park

Wednesday, March 14, 2012: Today morning I went to The Park Hotel to inaugurate Crossroads, a fashion and life style exhibition of pret lines, couture, jewellery, fashion accessories and lifestyle products presented by Fireflies.

I am not the shopping types and this was the first time that I visited an exhibition of this kind. 
I don’t even remember when I had last gone to a market for shopping in Kolkata.
Though there were many shops at exhibition at The Park, only one was selling male accessories. I think these exhibitions are meant only for women or for those men who buy gifts for women.
Now-a-days there are so many accessories for men available as well. 
I believe the time is not far when we would have exclusive exhibitions for men. 
I skipped the cocktails and Hors d’oeuvres at the hotel's cocktail lounge banquets in the evening.
ess bee