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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Saturday, November 30, 2013

Author’s Afternoon with Sudha Shah

With Author Sudha Shah at the 12th Edition of Author's Afternoon
November 30, 2013: I returned from Jaipur after a fortnight on Thursday afternoon and from the airport went straight to The Taj Bengal to attend the 12th edition of Author’s Afternoon.
This time Sudha Shah, who is based out of Mumbai, was the guest author. She was in conversation with Devapriya Roy. Sudha’s new book The King in Exile: The Fall of the Royal Family of Burma formed the crux of the discussion. The author also shared with the enthusiastic audience her interesting experiences and research work she had undertaken for penning the biographical masterpiece.
The book is a biography of the last king of Burma, King Thibaw and his family. This book was shortlisted for the Shakti Bhatt First Book Prize 2012 and also for the Tata Literature live First Book Award 2012. It spanned into seven years of extensive research and study and the result was a riveting biographical account of a king’s lost glory.
The last 15 days was no doubt very hectic with a short detour to the New Delhi from Jaipur. I attended many crucial meetings and events on one hand but also missed many back home in Kolkata. Some of the major events which I missed out on were – Kolkata International Film Festival 2013 closing ceremony and cocktails & dinner party at Chandra’s Green Project, launch of Agni Mitra Paul’s boutique at the Avani Mall in Howrah christened Agni, Saharasri Subrata Roy’s cocktails & dinner party, Renu Roy’s invitation at The Bengal Club, Madhu Neotia’s invitation to Rhapsody with Ms Usha Uthup at the Jhaal Farezi and quite a few invitation to marriage functions.
Anyway, with winter setting in, the frequency of events and social happenings would increase manifold and the days ahead would sure be very very hectic.
ess bee

Thursday, November 28, 2013

In Delhi

From left: Mr D P Tripathi, MP (Rajya Sabha), Ioannis E. Raptakis, Ambassador of Greece, Mr K N Memani, Mr Sudarshan Agarwal,
November 28, 2013, Maurya Sheraton, New Delhi: I arrived here from the Pink City in the afternoon. I had a meeting over lunch with Namita Gokhale on Jaipur Literature Festival and on few other issues. In the evening I attended the Delhi leg of Sonal Mansingh's 10-city dance-drama programme When the Gods Meet at the Kamani Auditorium at Copernicus Marg by Swarnika. I had seen the drama at Kolkata Birla Sabhaghar from where it was launched in association with Prabha Khaitan Foundation.
Tomorrow, almost after a fortnight, I shall leave for Kolkata by the noon flight.
ess bee

Wednesday, November 27, 2013

At The Write Circle with Rajmohan Gandhi

Jaipur, November 27, 2013: The latest in the series of The Write Circle with Rajmohan Gandhi was held at the new venue - ITC Rajputana. Sri Rajmohan Gandhi is a scholar, biographer, historian and a research professor who happens to be the grandson of Mahatma Gandhi on the paternal side and C Rajagopalachari, the first Governor-General of Independent India and also the last, on the maternal side.
With Rajmohan Gandhi
Rajmohan Gandhi is a research professor at the Center for South Asian and Middle Eastern Studies, University of Illinois at Urbana Champaign, USA. He is also a scholar-in-residence at the IIT, Gandhinagar. Sri Gandhi has been associated with journalism, human rights and trust-building activities for democratic rights of citizens. He has also been a member of the Rajya Sabha. He currently also serves as a Jury Member, Nuremberg International Human Rights Award, and Co-chair, Centre for Dialogue & Reconciliation, Gurgaon.
The crux of the very informative and interesting discussion was Gandhi's new book Punjab: A History from Aurangzeb to Mountbatten which is a 240 years of historical account of the state. Gandhi narrated various stories and incidents of the undivided Punjab which he has written about in the book. It was like a journey back in time and history which the audience and the scholars of Jaipur listened in rapt attention.
The evening concluded with a vote of thanks which was followed by a book signing session.
ess bee

Tuesday, November 26, 2013

Rajasthan Forum sets its agenda

At the Rajasthan Forum meeting
November 26, 2013: A very important meeting of Rajasthan Forum was held today to chart out a calendar of important activities and events for the next year. The meeting was preceded by a lunch which was attended by the Forum members.
Rajasthan Forum, which is an important representative body of illustrious artistes, culturists and achievers, is at the forefront of organizing many sterling cultural signature events like Desert Storm and Desert Souls across Rajasthan mainly in Jaipur.
With the members of Rajasthan Forum
Special invitees Padmashri S Shakir Ali and art promoter Sangeeta Juneja were nominated and inducted as committee members of Rajasthan Forum. The Forum's meeting was spearheaded by Grammy Award Winner Pt Vishwa Mohan Bhatt who shortlisted names for the forthcoming series of Desert Storm and Desert Souls. He also announced that the Forum would pay tributes to honour distinguished personalities from the art and cultural spheres who made rich contributions to their respective fields in the state during their lifetime.
It was decided that Rajasthan Forum, in remembrance of the state’s demised artistes, would start off a programme called “Shraddha” to pay rich tributes to these great personalities. In this programme, the family members of the artistes would be invited and felicitated. In addition, another programme called “Pranaam” would be started to honour the veteran artistes of Rajasthan who are above 75 years. Rajasthan Forum members would visit the house of the artiste and felicitate them with a tamrpatra, angvastram etc., as mark of reverence to their contribution.
The achievements of Rajasthan Forum since April 2013 (last meeting of the Forum) till date were highlighted at the meeting. There were nine major events organized in the state including Rajasthan Forum members' meeting with Hon'ble President of India and collaborations at the Jaipur Art Summit and Jaipur Tab Aur Ab session etc.
Rajasthan Forum meeting in progress
To take the signature events, Desert Soul and Desert Storm, forward, the Forum decided to invite poet Hemant Shesh, writer Hariram Meena, dhrupad singer Pt Laxman Bhatt Tailang, classical singer and tabla player Ustaad Ameer Mohammad Khan, art enthusiast Dr Vijay Verma, writer Dr Hariram Acharya, Economist Vijay Shankar Vyas and commetator Jasdev Singh in the next series of Desert Souls. For the Desert Storm, the Forum decided to invited kathak Dancer Pt Rajendra Gangani and Sudha Shivpuri.
Today evening I shall attend another edition of the Write Circle with the spotlight on Raj Mohan Gandhi. This series, which was held at The Taj property for the past one year, has now shifted to the ITC Rajputana today onwards.
ess bee

Monday, November 25, 2013

Meeting with the Lady Governor

With Her Excellency, Governor of Rajasthan, Mrs Margaret Alva
November 25, 2013: I arrived in Jaipur from Delhi today. There is an air of excitement in general in the state due to the approaching local elections. Many of my friends and acquaintances are in the fray. Though yesterday was a Sunday, I went to Noida, Uttar Pradesh, to attend to and wrap up a series of mostly-personal meetings.
On Saturday evening I went to meet Mrs Margaret Alva, the Hon'ble Governor of Rajasthan at the Raj Bhawan in Jaipur. It was a courtesy call. Later during the day I went to the residence of Rahul and Mita Kapur for a late night dinner. I and Mita's organisation Siyahi have collaborated on many events in Rajasthan and West Bengal. Today evening I shall visit the Periwal house.
ess bee

Saturday, November 23, 2013

"Jaipur Tab aur Ab"

With Kalanath Shastri, Govind Shankar and Raghunath Prasad Tiwari
This week Jaipur flagged off its 286th Foundation Day week and to mark that Rajasthan Forum is organising an interactive session of intellectuals, historians, linguists and cultural bigwigs called “Jaipur Tab aur Ab” (Jaipur then, and now) at the ITC Rajputana in association with Jaipur Virasat Foundation and Siyahi.
It was an interactive session and a nostalgic walk down memory lane, of how things were in bygone era in the Pink City. Among the august gathering were linguists Kalanath Shastri, Raghunath Prasad Tiwari, Govind Shankar Sharma and senior journalist Praveen Chabbra who participated in the session that began with Shastri ji's opening observations of what the city was in the past and the changes it had undergone over the years.
With Thakurani Jyotika Diggi
He said Jaipur was an ancient and amazing city that found mention is five Mahakavyas in Sanskrit.
Raghunath Prasad Tiwari lamented the fact that the young generation was getting distanced from their rich cultural heritage. He said earlier there used to be community centres at the crossroads that used to buzz with all sorts of social activities like marriages and feasts. He rued that there used to be many playgrounds in the city but the schools, these days, had become sheer commercial ventures.
With Ms Doorva Sharma 
Govind Shankar Sharma talked about the various kunds or water bodies of Jaipur namely Radha Kund, Krishna Kund and Saraswati Kund. He elaborated on other water sources like the Mansagar and Jaysagar which used to abound in red lotus and the locals even called it the Red Lotus Forest.
Senior journalist Praveen Chabbra lauded the town planning that was undertaken years ago. He said that there was time when the town would retire indoors at 9 pm with the sound of a canon fire. All shops used to close down by 4 pm he said. He said that was Jaipur was then and today's Jaipur is as we have it.
Vinod Joshi concluded the session thanking everyone. Among those who attended the session were Dharmendra Kanwar, Jyotika and Dev Diggi, Doorva Sharma, Mita Kapur and others. It was a session in which the old Jaipur came live through memories.
Tomorrow I will be going to Delhi for a day for some personal work.
ess bee

Monday, November 18, 2013

An interactive session with Sri Mudgal ji

With Sri Gopal Das Prasad Mudgal
Jaipur, Nov 18, 2013: I attended an interactive session with eminent author Gopal Das Prasad Mudgal on Sunday evening at the ITC Rajputana. The event was jointly organized by Rajasthan Forum, Siyahi and ITC Rajputana. Sri Hetu Bharadwaj was in conversation with Mudgal ji.
The octogenarian writer gave Jaipur a glimpse of what keeps him ticking at his age and of his works, illustrious life, ageing and worldview. “A writer never gets old..” said the 83-year-old who has a wonderful rapport with young readers. He also recited some of his poems which were appreciated by the audience. The who's who of Jaipur attended the session, including Rima Ahuja of Jaipur Virasat Foundation, Prof Arun Soule, Atul and Kannika Nayyar, Pawan and Archana Surana, Dr Vijay Shankar Vyas and others.
Over the past many decades Mudgal ji has achieved immense popularity and recognition in Braj literature. He has also been the General Secretary of Brajkala Kendra, Mathura. His books Geet Geet Roshni, Prerak Pacheesi, Smritiyon ke Jharokein Se etc., have been much appreciated from all over the country. He was the recipient of the Best Teacher Award at the state level. He has received Brajkala Kendra's Ramlala Puraskar, Shyam Brajvibhuti Puraskar and Shyamacharan Shyam Puraskar of Hathras's. He has also been awarded Rajasthan Sahitya Academy's literary award.
The young generation has much to learn from the old and interactions like these are a good way of providing an inter-generational forum where the experienced and the youth can meet.
ess bee

Sunday, November 17, 2013

Rambagh Polo Club dinner

November 16, 2013: I arrived in Jaipur on Saturday and attended a dinner party at the Rambagh Polo Club organized by the Dainik Bhaskar group to welcome Les Hinton and Kath Raymond. I made this trip to Jaipur on request of a friend of mine who wanted me to introduce to two very important individuals from the UK.
Les Hinton was the consigliere of media mogul Rupert Murdoch and served as the CEO of Dough Jones & Co, publishers of Wall Street Journal, and also as the head of News International. Kath on the other hand, was an advisor to Britain's former Prime Minister Gordon Brown.
Eminent citizens and celebs of the Pink City were there at the party to welcome the duo amid Rajasthani delicacies. Among others who attended were Sunil Arora, Sanjeev Bali, Dr Ashok Panagariya, Kavita Pardal, Jyotika Diggi, Mita Kapur and others.
Wintry evenings is Rajasthan has its own charms which is further enhanced by the great ambiance of the Rambagh Polo Club.
ess bee

Friday, November 15, 2013

Satyajit Ray Memorial Lecture

November 14, 2013: Yesterday evening I attended Tomare Selam, the Satyajit Ray Memorial lecture at the 19th Kolkata International Film Festival at Nandan 1. It was a packed house that began with an introduction by Sandip Ray and a video of Late Satyajit Ray accepting his Oscar and speaking on cinema.
With Sharmila Tagore and Sandip Ray at the 19th KIFF
Sharmila Tagore, who owes much of her career and recognition to the films of Manik da, paid rich tributes to to the genius, and talked at lenght about her association with Ray since 1958 when he first launched her in a film when she was 13 year-old. Since then it has been very enriching journey which Sharmila shared with the audience.
Regarding Oscars and Indian films, Sharmila made an observation by saying that we should see and follow the films that are selected for Oscars and then take a decision about what kind of films from India should be shortlisted. She also said there is a huge world of films outside the West or Hollywood that we should follow.
I did spend some time at Nandan where I used to spend a lot of time during earlier film fests for many years.
Thank you Rinku di for accepting my request to deliver the lecture.
Today evening I shall go to Priya for the premiere of Anik Datta's film Ascharjya Pradeep and leave for Jaipur tomorrow.
ess bee

Monday, November 11, 2013

Meeting Kamal Haasan

With Kamal Haasan
Nov 11, 2013: Today morning I organized a tea party in honour of Kamal Haasan who is in Kolkata after a long long time to attend the Kolkata Film Festival that was flagged off yesterday with great fanfare with Amitabh Bacchan, Jaya Bacchan, Shah Rukh Khan, Mithun Chakrabarty and Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee and host of dignitaries from Tollywood and others.
Kamal Haasan, who wears many hats in sync with his talents, is considered one of the most talented and versatile actors of India. He is a reservoir of talent and a great conversationalist. No wonder all the invitees, over short notice, turned up at The Taj Bengal poolside to meet and greet him.
With Toni and Kamal Haasan
It was simply great to have him among us and be in his company and get to be a part of his engaging conversation. One can never tire of hearing him for hours. Among those attended the late morning tea party, that concluded well beyond the tea time, were industrialists, actors, directors, and cultural connoisseurs of Kolkata.
To name those who came were, Arunima, Abir, Abhishek Datta, Agnimitra, Anandi Ghosh, Aparna Sen, Arindam Sil, Bickram Ghosh, Esha Dutta, Gargi Roy Chowdhury, Harsh Neotia, Nandita Pal Choudhury, Prasenjit, Pritimoy, Rituparnaa, Tanusree, Toni, Suman Ghosh, Sachin Verma, Sangeeta, Suman Mukhopadhyay, Shanti Surana and of course our Usha (Uthup) di who has known Kamal Haasan since the days when he just another actor trying to carve out a film career.
With Nandita Pal Choudhury, Usha Uthup and Kamal Haasan
Geeta Gopalakrishnan, Director, Donor Relationships, who is looking after Tata Medical Centre Cancer Hospital in Kolkata was also in Kolkata and attended the get-together.
Kamal Haasan talked about the possibility of Tamil-Bengal collaboration in films and charmed us with his conversation.
After a late afternoon tea, Mr K Mohanchandran, General Manager of Taj Bengal hosted a few of us and Kamal Haasan at the Taj restaurant Chinoiserie. Kamal Haasan himself is fond of Chinese cuisine. There was yet another round of engaging informal conversation with the six of us.
ess bee

Sunday, November 10, 2013

Sonal Mansingh in Kolkata

With Anandi Ghosh, Sonal Mansingh and Bharati Ray at the Tete-a-Tea
Nov 10, 2013: The last two days were very hectic for me and with two back to back events of Padmavibhushan Sonal Mansingh ji in Kolkata. The city was also on a high hectic note with countdown for the Kolkata Film Festival 2014 later today in the evening.
On Friday (Nov 8) the third edition of Tete-a-Tea with Sonal ji was organized by Prabha Khaitan Foundation was held at The Souk, Taj Bengal, in association with t2 and Taj Bengal.
The event went off very well despite traffic problems in the city. The earlier two guests on Tete-a-Tea were Anurag Basu and Lord Swraj Paul. 
This time Ekavalli Khanna was in conversation with Sonal ji who shared interesting anecdotes from her life and illustrious career going back to her her salad days. She also expressed her views on the current state of affairs in the field of art and culture in India.
With danseuse Tanusree Shankar, Sonal Mansingh and her troupe and Sandeep Soparkar and Jesse Randhawa's troupe at the Birla Sabhaghar
On Saturday, the first of a 10-city tour of Swarnika – a celebration of 54 years of the legend, danseuse, Sonal ji’s career – was flagged off at the Birla Sabhaghar, Kolkata. The event When the Gods Meet was a presentation of Indic-Greek dance confluence on some of the popular mythologies of India and Greece. Sandeep Saporkar and Jesse Randhawa choreographed the dance re-enacting the ancient myths of Greece.
With Sonal Mansingh and Tanusree Shankar after the event
This event was organized by Prabha Khaitan Foundation and the venue provided by Sanskriti Sagar and the hospitality by Club Verde Vista. This was the first of a 10-city tour in India that took off from Kolkata. At the end of the event, danseuse Tanusree Shankar felicitated Sonal ji with a flower bouquet. This time the heavy traffic snarls had some impact on the turnout. I too got stuck in a jam and reached half an hour late. It was a very nice programme that was much appreciated by the audience.
Again on Monday I am planning to invite some of the eminent Kolkatans for a tea with another legend of Indian film industry Kamal Haasan who will be in the city for the Kolkata Film Festival 2014.
ess bee

Thursday, November 7, 2013

At The Bengal dinner

With The Bengal President Ms Nabaneeta Dev Sen and Dona Ganguly of team Bengal
Nov 7, 2013: From yesterday afternoon till past midnight I was busy with The Bengal meeting and the cocktail dinner at The Taj Bengal. It was a Eid, Bijoya and Diwali get together that was attended by The Bengal team and some special invitees.
Mr Atri Bhattacharya, Secretary, Information & Cultural Affairs, Ms Rajashree Behera, Director, ICCR Kolkata, Lovey Burman and others. Rituparna Sengupta also came to the dinner around 11 pm.
Jogen Choudhury, Working President, The Bengal, takes a shot
At the dinner party Gargi Roy Choudhury sang a few Bengali songs. That she could sing so well surprised some of the guests. It was adda-cum-dinner with Arindam Sil chipping in with some wonderful recitations.
Usha di cuts her Birthday cake with Arindam Sil, Bickram Ghosh, Jogen Choudhury, Mr H M Bangur and Nabaneeta Dev Sen
Earlier in the evening at a meeting, The Bengal team inducted Ms Nayantara Palchoudhury as the new board member in its meeting today. Ms Agnimitra Paul's resignation was accepted by the board and three new committee members Mr Aniruddha Roy Chowdhury, Ms Ekavalli Khanna and Ms Gargi Roy Chowdhury were inducted.
The Bengal made the announcement to confer Sunil Gangopadhyay Memorial Award for literature, instituted by Shree Cement, on poets Nirendranath Chakraborty for the year 2012-13 and Sankha Ghosh for the year 2013-14 respectively.
The Award constitutes a cash component of Rs 2 lac and a citation. The Bengal had instituted the Award last year in the memory of its ex-president Late Shri Sunil Gangopadhyay.
The meeting was attended by Chairman, Mr H M Bangur, Ms Nabaneeta Dev Sen, President, Mr Jogen Chowdhury, Working President, Mr Sundeep Bhutoria, Secretary General, and team members Mr Bickram Ghosh, Ms Dona Ganguly, Ms Usha Uthup, Ms Anandi Ghose, Mr Arindam Sil and Mr K J Yusuf.
With Jogen da and Atri Bhattacharya as Rituparna cuts her Birthday cake
After The Bengal meeting, Usha Uthup, whose Birthday falls on Nov 8, cut a birthday cake and we all sang “Happy Birthday Usha di…”
Another cake was cut by Rituparna Sengupta whose birthday was just an hour away. I shall be attending Rituparna's birthday tomorrow. In fact, tomorrow is also Raima Sen's birthday who is away in Goa.
ess bee

Saturday, November 2, 2013

At the music album launch

With MoonMoon, Bharat Dev V arma and Mumtzaz Sorcar
With Tanusree
Nov 2, 2013: In the midst of Diwali and Kali Puja celebrations, I  attended the launch of music album for the forthcoming film Aschorjo Prodeep (Magic Lamp) directed by Anik Datta at The Chrome on October 31
Usha Uthup released the album. launch of the music album, composed by Raja Narayan Deb, was all the more special because it marks the comeback of playback singer Amit Kumar in a Bengali film.
With Debojyoti
Besides Amit Kumar’s comeback, there were quite a few other firsts like inclusion of strains of Arabic music in Bengali songs and an item number song which is inspired by Mozart’s 40th Symphony.
The film is inspired by Sirshendu Mukhopadhyay’s short story.
With Anik and his wife Sondhi
Present on the occasion were actors Saswata Chatterjee, Rajatava Dutta, Srilekha Mitra, Mumtaz Sorcar and singers Raghav Chatterjee, Dibyendu Mukherjee, Tanya Sen, Timir Biswas and others. The song sequences were screened at the function.
ess bee