September 14, 2016

Why Not You, Kolkata?

Picture Courtesy - Krishna (justclicked)

This article is a literary translation of the original article published in Anandabazar by Shiladitya Sen. The work was translated with due permission from the author by our very own Soumalya Chakraborty.  If you want to read the original article in Bengali, it is available here. It is impossible to give the same flavor through a translation but we have tried to make it as much closer as possible.

The entire city is his playground. He hops, skips and jumps through it with a smile on his face and without a care in the world. As this happens, a packed auditorium cheers his every move and every moment. The city in question is Kolkata and the Auditorium-Prasad Preview Labs. For three days, Hyderabad’s film aficionados had gathered at this theater situated in Banjara Hills to catch a glimpse of some of the finest contemporary cinematic offerings from Bengal. One among these was the film, “Babar Naam Gandhiji”, which explores a dimension of Kolkata largely unknown to us. The protagonist is a young boy from the streets named “Kecho” (worm), the likes of whom we refuse to know or associate with. However, this apathy makes no difference to him as he goes about his business taking the animosity of the city’s gentlemen and ladies in his stride. His confident and playful demeanor appears to be telling the civil society, “to those of you who deem yourselves important/there’s another Kolkata within the one that you know/take a walk along the streets and get to see it all your elitists”

Watching the movie with me was Mr. Madhu Eravankara who teaches film studies in Kerala, his home state. As the action unfolded, he related that this is a reality he is closely familiar with. The “Kecho”s of this country live exactly this way. Possibly Mr. Madhu was speaking from his South Indian perspective but in my opinion, this is a pan Indian picture. There’s the reality of an India which is abuzz with notions of progress and development and then there’s another India which is being left behind. A space inhabited by the marginalized and ostracized who are being cornered by the urban high-and-mighty.

The director, a young and dynamic Pavel who’s just north of twenty-five, has infused his personal experience of educating street kids such as Kecho in his film. Having brought many such Kechos up from their surroundings, this is a subject close to his heart. Last year, the movie released on Gandhi Jayanti and received appreciation from all those who watched. However, it didn’t run for long and hardly received the publicity it deserved. On the other hand, I would like to remind you of a commercially successful Bollywood movie which released a while back and was shot in Kolkata. Bengalis went head over heels in their praise for the visuals, gushing, “wow! what an awesome portrayal of our city!”. Bollywood has managed to firmly establish itself in our hearth and home. It’s regulating our choices, food habits, style, travel plans and love life. Feeding us the construct of a happy-go-lucky Indian-ness which disregards issues of caste, color and religion. A presentation which is not just partial but also one-dimensional.

At the same time, regional films with their themes involving caste, religion and color are lending a new shape to thoughts on India. These movies, with their many dialects and layers are attempting to capture the complex strata of Indian society and life. Throwing light on the largely ignored, majorly silenced lives in remote corners, they are choosing the various problems of a nation and its people as they seek to express themselves and be heard. Such chronicles are not only important for us to know the larger space around the ones we inhabit, they are also invaluable for the creation of contemporary history.

I am talking about such regional films whose cameras are still looking for our country and its people after sixty years of “Pather Panchali”. An ongoing search celebrating success and battling failure. So does Bollywood totally abstain from it? Not really. They turn out tales of struggle and conflict too, but they are mostly surface-reality, dictated by commercial intent.

To identify how “Indian” the life of a Bengali is, members of “Bengalis in Hyderabad” have been organizing the “Hyderabad Bengali Film Festival” for the last three years. The director of the festival, +Partha Pratim Mallik, opines that this festival is an attempt to prove that good cinema exists outside Bollywood. Though it’s a “Bengali” film festival by name, in reality, it’s a celebration of regional cinema. +Piyali Chakraborty, a prominent member of the organizing committee, points out that it’s not just Bengalis but many other people hailing from different regions and staying in Hyderabad, throng the theater to soak in all the cinematic excellence. Ratnottama Sengupta, the curator of the festival since its inception and the one all the organizers count on, says, “I have chosen only those Bengali movies which clearly reflect the nation.”

Even during the 50s, 60s and 70s when Bengali cinema was going through a glorious stage, the annoying boy-meets-girl formula was widespread. Over time, it has not only stayed but extended its expression through cheap thrills and extra maritals. Additionally, we are dealing with invasions of supernatural themes, detective fiction, crime thrillers and exotic locales. Standing out from these, Aditya Vikram Sengupta’s “Asa Jaowar Majhe” and Kaushik Ganguly’s “Cinemawala” earned felicitation in this year’s festival. Weaving the fabric of political discourse under personal lives, Kaushik’s film serves as a fitting depiction of the issues plaguing Indian cinema. Inspired by Brecht’s “Three Penny Opera”, Judhajit Sarkar’s political drama “Kolkatar King” is a successful revelation of the nexus between mafia, corruption, administration and the ruling party in any Indian city, told through its cinematic language. A terminal disease, which not only destroys the one who is suffering from it but slowly poisons the lives of his or her dear ones, form the subject of Partha Sen’s “Anubrato Bhalo Acho” and make the audience melancholy.

Creating a taste for acceptable social dictates through cinema make it commercially viable and sustain the market of Bollywood. Going against this notion, Amit Ranjan Biswas’s “Bridge”, Shatarupa Sanyal’s “Onyo Apala” and Debesh Chatterjee’s “Natoker Moto” emphatically establishes their varied perspectives. Marital discords paving the way for separation, increasing physical and emotional torture of women leading to them experiencing a lifeless existence, dominating males imposing their will or being strangely aloof and uncaring are some of the themes these movies explore. Bollywood hardly explores the sexual exploitation of women or a refusal of their expected sexual needs to this degree. Such characters are largely forgotten and left behind. 

Just like Pavel’s film, Debesh’s offering also won the hearts and minds of Hyderabad’s audience, leading to both of them winning top awards. “When I am making movies outside the mainstream, I will also create an audience whose tastes are not dictated by the mainstream. This is part of my filmmaking”. Can’t we confidently aspire for alternative thinking like Debesh does here? When Hyderabad can come out of the spell of Bollywood to celebrate regional cinema, can Kolkata not showcase cinema of other states in a festival of its own?

Author Siladitya Sen is an eminent film journalist and also member of Film Critic Circle of India.


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July 5, 2016

Hyderabad Bengali Film Festival : চলচ্চিত্রের উৎসব, জীবনের উপন্যাস - Soumalya Chakraborty

Hyderabad Bengali Film Festival 2016
Volunteer Team of HBFF 2016

সিনেমার মাধ্যমে গল্প জীবন্ত হয় আমাদের সামনে. রুপোলি পর্দায় যখন অভিনেতারা হয়ে ওঠেন আমাদের পছন্দের গল্প বা উপন্যাস এর চরিত্র, আমরা দেখতে পাই বই এর পাতা নিয়েছে আলাদা রূপ. পড়তে পড়তে যা কল্পনা করেছি তার সাথে হয়তো মেলে, হয়তো মেলে না.
ফিল্ম ফেস্টিভ্যাল এর মুখ্য আকর্ষণ এরকম কিছু গল্পের প্রাণ-প্রাপ্তির সাক্ষী হয়ে থাকা, কিন্তু আমার কাছে ফিল্ম ফেস্টিভ্যাল এর গল্প শুধু সেগুলোই নয়. বিগত তিন বছর HBFF এর সাথে জড়িত থেকে আমি গল্পের কিছু অসাধারণ চিত্রায়ন তো দেখেছি ই, তার সাথে পেয়েছি অনেক ছোট ছোট নতুন গল্প, যা ফিল্ম ফেস্টিভ্যাল এর এই যাত্রা টিকে এক ধারাবাহিক উপন্যাস এর রূপ দিয়েছে...
সেই তিন বছর আগে উদগ্রীব, কিন্তু আশংকিত কিছু মুখ, সিদ্ধান্ত হলো ফিল্ম ফেস্টিভ্যাল করা হবে...পারবো কি? উপন্যাস এর ভূমিকা আরম্ভ...
মাসের পর মাস পরিকল্পনা, প্রচার ও নিদ্রাহীন রাতের পর আত্মপ্রকাশ করলো HBFF 2014, উপন্যাস এর প্রথম পরিচ্ছেদ. এই কাহিনীর অনেক চরিত্র-কেউ অতিথি দের দেখাশোনা করছে, কেউ venue ম্যানেজ করছে, কেউ branding আর media relations দেখছে, কেউ ticket আর finance , কেউ website বানাচ্ছে, কেউ screening এর দায়িত্বে আর কেউ গোটা প্রচেষ্টা কে সঞ্চালন করছে. এই উপাখ্যান এরা সবাই লিখতে পারে, কিন্তু এক এক জনের লেখা হবে এক এক রকম. সে অর্থে এ গল্পের prequel নেই, sequel অজানা, কিন্তু অজস্র
প্রথম screening er সাথে শুরু হলো গল্পের পাতা ওল্টানো. তারপর নানা ঘটনা করে তুলেছে গল্প কে স্মরণীয়...
গাড়িতে চলতে চলতে অনন্যা চ্যাটার্জী হঠাৎ গেয়ে ওঠেন অসমীয়া গান. পিছন থেকে শেখর দাসের মন্তব্য "গান টা আরো cultivate করতে পারতে", গল্পের একটি মুহূর্ত.
Flash Mob এ সুদেষ্ণা রায় এর স্বতঃস্ফূর্ত ভাবে পা মেলানো...পাঠকের মুখে এক চিলতে হাসি ফুটিয়ে গল্প এগিয়ে চলে...
দিনের শেষে ক্লান্ত volunteers মিটিং এ সবার প্রচেষ্টা কে হাততালি দিয়ে অভিনন্দন জানানো...ক্লান্তি ঝেড়ে ফেলে পরের দিনের প্রস্তুতি...গল্পের মূলমন্ত্র
চূর্ণী গাঙ্গুলী র "নির্বাসিত" র screening শেষ...জাতীয় সংগীত এর আবহে দাঁড়িয়ে থাকা দর্শকদের চোখের কোনে জল, পাঠক কেও করে তোলে বিষন্ন. বইটি বন্ধ করে রাখা হয় পাশে, আবার পরে পড়বো
"বাবার নাম গান্ধীজি" র খুদে অভিনেতা কেঁচো যখন প্রতিষ্ঠিত দের টপকে মন জয় করে নেয় দর্শকদের, নিয়ে যায় তাদের ভালোবাসার পুরস্কার, সেই মুহূর্তে পরিচালক পাভেল এর জয়োচ্ছাস আর স্টেজে ছুটে যাওয়া পাঠক কে দেখায় নতুন আশা. বাঁচার লড়াই এর জিত
পরিচালক দেবেশ চ্যাটার্জী যখন "নাটকের মতো" র পাওয়া শ্রেষ্ঠ সিনেমার পুরস্কার হাতে নিয়ে বলেন এই জিত কারো একার নয়, গোটা বাংলা সিনেমার, তখন সেই কথায় সবার উঠে দাঁড়িয়ে হাততালি, সমস্ত পরিচালকদের স্টেজে উঠে আসা...তৃতীয় পরিচ্ছেদের এক অনন্য climax
ফেস্টিভ্যাল এর সমাপ্তির পর বেশ কিছু দিন তার ঘোর এ থাকা, মাথায় তার ই চিন্তা ভাবনার ভিড়-যেসব পাঠকের বাড়িতে উৎসব হয় তাঁরা মাথা নাড়ছেন নিশ্চই? বুঝতে পেরেছেন.
পাতা উল্টে দেখা যায় আর কিছু লেখা নেই, কিন্তু শূন্য পৃষ্ঠা আছে প্রচুর. যতদিন সিনেমা আছে, সিনেমা প্রেমী দর্শক আছেন এবং আছে সিনেমা কে তাঁদের কাছে পৌঁছে দিতে আগ্রহী সংগঠন, সেইসব শূন্য পৃষ্ঠা ভরে উঠবে নতুন পরিচ্ছেদে, নতুন চরিত্রে এবং স্বরণীয় মুহূর্তে.

পরের অধ্যায়ে কি থাকবে তা এখনই বলা না গেলেও উপসংহার এর বার্তা দেখতে পাই. "অটোগ্রাফ" সিনেমায় নেশাগ্রস্ত প্রসেনজিৎ যেমন বলেছিলেন, "আমি অরুন চ্যাটার্জী, আমি Industry", সেই উক্তিটিকেই একটু পরিবর্তন করে এই উপন্যাস বলবে, "আমরা চলচিত্র প্রেমী, আমরা Industry"!


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June 6, 2016

Praktan - A different take - Nabojyoti Sarkar

Yes, I am one of those unfortunate Bengalis, who missed last year’s HBFF and hence for the last year or so I have deprived myself from watching Bengali movies on big screen. Also, lack of good torrents essentially meant that during this phase, I have missed out on many good movies in my mother tongue. So when I figured out ‘Praktan’ is releasing in Hyderabad, I was all up for it. Not because of the hyped comeback of one of Bengali movies’ most commercially successful pair of Rituparna-Prasenjit, but simply because of the director duo of Nandita-Shiboprasad. I have been closely following their work since inception; hence the greed to watch another good, heart-warming film from them got the better of me and I headed straight for the theatre. Truth be told, I came out disappointed. I mean, I know about the rave reviews which this movie has been garnering, but personally I had higher expectations from a pair that delivered movies like ‘Iche’, ‘Alik Sukh’ and ‘Belaseshe’. There is not much wrong about the movie so to speak, but it could have been so amazing had they not fallen prey to treating the story as secondary and cast as primary, is what I felt after coming out of the movie theater on a rain drenched night.

The movie revolves around three characters: Prasenjit (a Kolkata city guide, who takes pride in reliving the city through his walks), his ex-wife Rituparna (a renovation architect, who takes pride in reviving old buildings) and his current wife Aparajita Addho (a housewife, who takes pride in having a perfect family life). The storyline revolves around how mundane lives and failure to meet each other’s expectations creates distances between partners which eventually leads to separation. All these reasons get enhanced by our personal egos and inability to handle failure, which both Rituparna and Prasenjit portrayed well. Having a bit of history between them, it must have helped these two veterans to do justice to the role. But then, have they done justice to it? I will talk about that in a while. The second element of the movie is Aparajita, whom Prasenjit married after separating from his first wife and with whom he has a cute daughter. Rituparna and Aparajita accidentally meet each other during a train journey unaware of their common thread, which is Prasenjit, who also joins them after sometime. So what happens in that train ride, and how people react to past, how people accept their present is the basic premise of this two hour long flick. I will not go any further with the story, but talk about few things which I liked and disliked.

Positives first- one key high point of the movie is its songs. Yes, the movie has couple of excellent songs which could be heard again and again. I have heard “Tumi Jake Bhalobasho” in loop for couple of days and every time I liked it. Great lyrics and an absolutely delightful rendition. Although I like the female version sung by Iman more. Secondly, the Kolkata kaleidoscope which the film has captured so well got me walking down those nostalgic roads throughout the movie. Also, I am a huge train journey fan and I have so many amazing personal memories pertaining to the same. Hence I can’t thank enough the makers of the movie for those great train shots. Thirdly, the basic storyline-it had enough merit to keep viewers hooked on for the entire span of the movie. It also used Tagore’s “Hotath Dekha” brilliantly, which scaled new heights when rendered in Soumitra’s deep baritone voice. This Tagore classic is actually the basic premise of the film. The way the movie was concluded was realistic and non-poetic, which I loved. Although, I am a big fan of romanticism but the lifelike conclusion was a thumbs up for me. Finally, the acting of Aparajita. It was so refreshing. She was brilliantly natural and seamlessly pulled off the role of a boring, at times annoying, housewife with great competence. Watch out for her in the movie. Overall it is a smart, well-made movie.

Okay, so now let’s talk about few things due to which I failed to extol the virtues of the film. One big failure of the movie was its inability to establish the key plot of the movie-as to what led to the fallout between Rituparna and Prasenjit. That to me was one area which wasn’t treated as well as it should have been. Yes, there were instances where the reasons came out well, but I was expecting a more rounded off and comprehensive exfoliation. Instead of swaying away with the multiple unnecessary and half-baked subplots, the director duo should have given more attention to the separation. Maybe it would have made the movie a little one-dimensional, due to which the treatment has been made the way it is, but that shouldn’t be the reason for neglecting the basic plot. To me, that part of the story demanded further clarity and could have been a far better and compact movie, had the length been reduced by another 30 odd minutes. The introduction of characters, especially Biswanath and Manali was absolutely unnecessary and irritating at times. I can’t criticize much about Soumitra and Sabitri, mainly due to their vintage credentials but as characters they were not adding any value to the movie, except for Soumitra’s recital of ‘Hotath Dekha”, which could have been done even without adding him as a character. And then there was the whole gang of singers including Anindya (Chandrabindoo), Upal (Chandrabindoo), Soumitra (Bhoomi) and Anupam Roy. What was appalling to see was that they were mainly added in the movie to play a round of lengthy and again expendable Antakshari; such a waste of precious screen time, which could have been otherwise used well to add premium to the movie. I loved how a music band was used in “Life in a Metro” to progress the story, but here all these stalwarts of Bengali music industry were not only underutilized, but unutilized to epic proportions. Finally, the biggest reason which left a lingering unpleasant aftertaste: extremely over-the-top acting by Rituparna. She forgot that it’s not a commercial flick and kept acting just like her usual random movies. So much so that at times you will feel like saying “Tumse na ho payega”. Nonetheless, she also had her moments of brilliance especially when she used nonverbal gestures. Prasenjit had been Bengali movie industry’s biggest surprise so far, after Srijit rediscovered the true potential of this man. Even he was over acting at times and didn’t look at all natural. For a layered love story involving convoluted relationships, my only demand from the movie is seamless acting, else the soul of the movie dies thousand deaths. That’s exactly what happened with this one.

Final words: A movie which had all the potential of becoming a classic, will remain as an average movie, all thanks to some mediocre acting and inability to prioritize which part of the story deserves center stage.


#HBFF2016 is coming this July 1-3, with some of the best of bengali films which will definitely make you want more. Keep following

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May 20, 2016

Carpool with bengalis in Hyderabad!

Carpool and have fun making new friends

When we started talking with the founders of +sRide - Carpool App to partner with +Bengalis in Hyderabad, we were sure that this would be an exciting journey. Many of you might already #Carpool to work but we were looking a way to connect the members to each other. A platform which can connect the people who offer ride with those who need a ride.

This app a great choice for such people since not only it connects us but also makes handling payments and accepting/offering rides easy. It is available for download for Android and iOS devices.

The best part is carpooling is rewarding with sRide. Please download the app and use the below promo code for Bengalis in Hyderabad to be among the lucky winners.

Download sRide Carpool App @ or dial +91-9029013797 

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May 7, 2016

A letter, of sorts... - Nabojyoti Sarkar

Dear Sir,

Actually I had thought a LOT before deciding on that salutation, but finalized on this one. I know that you denounced Knighthood conferred on you by the then overlords as a mark of protest to the brutal Jallianwala Bagh massacre, and thereby I am assuming you despise the thought of being called ‘Sir’. But times have changed; now ‘Sir’ symbolizes empathy, respect and all that (I mean that’s what is taught in all those call-centres). So let’s do away with your Victorian ideology and embrace modern gestures. Also, I didn’t have many alternatives; I could have used the very familiar ‘Gurudev’, but then with the current generation of Asaram-RamRahim-Ramdev’s, that seemed worse and unpardonable. 

Anyways, let’s come back to the purpose of this letter. This is not the usual ‘thanks – you are great - you influenced my life so much’ letter which you would receive during this time of the year. On the other hand, this is just the opposite. I hated you as a child. Yes, you read that right, I did. Do you even know how difficult it is to “learn by heart” all those lengthy poems you wrote? Every day students like me would be shit scared at the thought of the teacher asking us to recite them in front of everyone in the class which includes our adolescent crushes as well, only to be embarrassed and dishonored as we would inevitably falter at the sixth/seventh line and make ourselves look like a joke. Why couldn’t you write small and easy to remember things? Didi, also writes poetries, they are so easy to remember. And, those prose pieces, oh-my-god!! I had to memorize the answers to all the questions in “Madhyamik Test Paper” (that’s the board exam question bank, in case you didn’t know) and even then also would manage abysmal marks. I was so irritated with this that I distinctly remember promising myself that I would never touch any of your work after the exams are over, well to be fair to you, I did all that after gulping down the first beer of my life. Now, you can always argue that the intention of your creation was not to harass generation-after-generation of students, but to reach out to people and tell tales of love-longing-anguish-despair and all those emotions in between. But, your work was way ahead of your time; some are way ahead of even our times as well, so you should have known whom you are passing your treasures to. We can’t even punish a rapist in our country and you expected us to do justice with your work. 

Life moved on. I reached puberty and tasted liberty. Amazing things like porn, Pamela Anderson, Bengali band, cigarette, first love and first heart-break happened to me. These are plenty for a teenager to digest, and as you know teenage love drives you crazy. Those desires, those strange ‘butterflies-in-your-stomach’ kind of emotions, which you feel for the first time are so very difficult to express, to talk about and finally to make peace with. Well, that was one time you somewhat helped me. Quoting your lines in love-letters or humming your songs on those dates always earned me extra brownie points with those Bengali lasses. You were a great weapon to woo sapiosexual bong women. And then, there was breakup. Oh, it hurts, it hurts so badly. Very strangely, your verses helped me during that phase as well. Who would have thought I could connect so deeply with someone whom I severely hated once. You know something; such was the hatred for you that we judged you like crazy. All those stories of your ‘illicit’ affairs with your sister-in-law and all, made a great topic for discussion as we smoked up (you know what). We kept drawing imaginary morality lines and went on and on about how character-less you were. We were unabashed as we went on discussing about the muses of your life, and even if there weren’t many we conveniently made up stories. After I grew older and life taught me about the various shades of relationships, I felt a little embarrassed for all those sessions. I could finally comprehend what you intended to write. It’s not a good feeling, to be proven wrong time and time again and I kept on hating you. 

The only thing I liked though was your birthday celebration. Every year my school used to organize this huge event, where we all would participate in some form of other. I could never participate in those cultural events but manning the gate and exchanging glances with pretty girls, all decked up in yellow-marigold saree, is something I considered my dream job for a very long time. With songs like “mayabono biharini horini” being played in the background let’s just say that there were quite a few ‘magic moments’. But as I aged (not so beautifully, I must admit) all that was left were those sweet memories. Now your birthday also has become painful. All these local clubs will play some deranged version of your songs and organize some ‘function’ where the only thing reasonable is the ticket price and those irritatingly loud speakers are not even the worst thing. 

Now that I have spoken enough of the reasons, let me conclude this by elucidating what we have done to you in return. Karma, you know!!! Even with someone like you who wrote so copiously about social issues, we subjected you to class politics. You have been portrayed and depicted as someone who could be enjoyed only by the so called ‘antels’/intellectuals, as if the lesser mortals have no right to your creation. You have been earmarked for a particular section of the society and not for mass appreciation. And then we have played your song when people are stuck in traffic. Seriously, that’s what we did. Tell me this, who enjoys songs played in a meek and almost dysfunctional public address system when you are sweating profusely and waiting to reach home to watch Arnab Goswami cornering politicians or Kapil Sharma cracking sexist jokes? No one!  Also what do think about your Nobel Prize being lost? Ha ha ha, we stole it; we bloody stole it for making some quick money. You are nothing but a way of making money by using what you wrote and what you achieved. Well that’s our way of taking revenge. It is and always has been a dish best served cold. We will have fun and celebrate your 155th birthday with scotch, well-cooked mutton and probably will watch a ‘short film’ on some of your stories on some random Bengali channel with intermittent advertisements of undergarments, deodorants and mango drinks in between. We have successfully commercialized you, turned you into a money churning endeavor, and by telling you all this, I actually kind of feel good.

A Bengali.

P.S I just woke up with heavy head and hangover of cheap rum. I guess last night I had a little too much. But to write a hate letter to the country’s best poet-storyteller-song composer-lyricist requires some courage. Actually, you just made one mistake by taking birth in a country full of jerks and douche-bags. We don’t deserve you, we never did. Take care.

About the Author:

Nabajyoti Sarkar is a true blue bengali who loves to 'eat'  tea and lyadh. Banker by week and Blogger by weekend, his interests are travel, cooking and jogging, well the last one was a joke. His vision is a perfect 6/6 and he swears by the alur torkari which comes with Moghlai Parota!!!


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April 4, 2016

স্বপ্নের হায়দ্রাবাদ - শান্তিরাম মন্ডল

স্বপ্ন, আশা ও আকাঙ্খা নিয়ে ভরপুর
কাজের উদ্যমে, জীবনের নূতন উদ্দীপনায়
নূতন প্রজন্মের শিক্ষা আর বিকাশের উদ্দেশে
দেশের রাজধানী ছেড়ে প্রদেশের রাজধানীতে ।

পরিমীত প্রদূষন, কমে যায় দৌড়ভাগ ব্যস্ততা
মানবিকতার ছোঁয়া, জীবনে ভরে উষ্ণতা,
শীত উষ্নের সমন্জষে আবহাওয়ায় স্নিগ্ধতা
 ভাষা, আচার, আলিঙ্গনে নেই বিঘ্নতা ।

হুসেন সাগর, মির আলম, সরুর নগর
চারিদিকে ঘিরে এ তো ঝীলের শহর
উদ্যান, পার্ক মিলে সবুজের বাতাবরণ
'বায়ো ডায়ভার্সিটির ' অতি ঊজ্বল প্রতিফলন।

গোলকুন্ডার দূর্গ, শ্বেত মর্মর বিড়লার মন্দির,
এনটিআর, লুম্বিনী, সালার জং আর চারমিনার
রামোজীর ফিল্ম সিটি, আর শিল্প রামম
ঐতিহ্য আর আধুনিকতার বিরল মিশ্রণ।

ব্যবসা, উদ্যোগ, অগ্রমান তথ্যপ্রযুক্তি
এয়ারপোর্ট,হোটেল,আধুনিকতার শক্তি
শিক্ষার সংস্খান, দক্ষ কোচিং আয়োজন
খেলা ধূলার পারদর্শীতা আর প্রশিক্ষণ ।

গনেশ পূজা, ঈদ আর বড়দিন উদযাপন
উৎসব, ধর্ম ও সংষ্ক্রিতির অদ্ভুত মিলন
কুচিপুড়ি নাচ, হিন্দুস্থানী ও দ্রাবিড়ী সংগীত
জাতির বিশিষ্টতা কিন্তু সমগ্রে সমাহিত ।

স্বপ্নের নগর তুমি, কিন্তু মুখোমুখি সমস্যার
ঝীল ক্রমাগত সংকূচিত, প্রদূষিত হুসেনসাগর
নোংরা মুসি নদী, বেআইনি নির্মাণ
কোথাও অবাধ দখল, যটে যানবাহন।

বেসেছি ভালো, পড়েছি প্রেমে, হায়দ্রাবাদ
বাঁচাবো হুসেন সাগর, দাও হাতে হাত
যানজট, স্বচ্ছ রাখার, বাঁচাতে প্রকৃতি
সমাধান খোঁজার আজ নি প্রতিশ্রুতি ।


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March 12, 2016

The Patriotism, Sedition and the State of Nationalism in India - Deepak Jha

Mahatma Gandhi had said: “My idea of nationalism is that my country may become free, that if need be, the whole of the country may die, so that the human race may live. There is no room for the race hatred there. Let that be our nationalism”.

Before independence, the entire idea of nationalism revolved around freedom from British oppression and to have an independent India ruled by Indians for the Indians. There were many sovereign routes to liberation separated by idea but united by a common goal - Independence. All courses practiced nationalism that was binding and universal. There were no different versions of it and rightly so, from Tagore, through Bhagat Singh, to Gandhi, we saw a sense of pride while liberating India from the clutches of British. One thing was noteworthy – No course raised any question about the Patriotism of the rival course. Moderates may have criticized the methods of extremists and vice versa, but there was no criticism of each other’s devotion towards attaining independence. Under the legacy sedition act of 1870 which still finds place in the Indian Penal code in 124A, many freedom fighters were jailed. India achieved independence through the patriotic endeavors of many, but the channel of nationalism diverged – the minority one craved for Pakistan while the majority one longed for undivided India. Though it was unfortunate which led to killing of a large number of people but India was born, lively and fresh.

What Nationalism is in today’s context when we do not have a foreign rule? Where does the sedition law of 1870 really fit in today? When India was born, it gave us a new constitution where the freedom was given a special place in the country’s landscape. In British regime, such freedom was restricted. Constitution ripped apart those restrictions and defined a new set of freedom in the form of fundamental rights. The most important being freedom of speech and expression talks about the freedom of free and independent thoughts. It should be noted that this freedom is not absolute but have qualifiers. The first amendment to the constitution made in 1951 states that “interests of the sovereignty and integrity of India, the security of the state, friendly relations with the foreign states, public order, decency or morality or in relation to contempt of court, defamation and incitement to an offence” will be overriding and the freedom will be conditional. But this has been never linked to sedition until the great emergency when many fundamental rights are not in affect. 

Today, the concept of nationalism is totally screwed up where each individual has their own version of defining it. The Patriotism has narrowed down heavily to a set of thoughts matching the establishment and anything in contrasts gets subjected to an act of treason. This is the story of recent months which has been testimony to this kind of nationalism. A person possessing a different set of thoughts is being seen as anti-national and treated like such. When there are so many versions of Nationalism, I assume a majority of Indians to be an anti-national. Democracy is all about having a say in each and every affairs of the country. Referring such says as treason is an insult to democratic set up of the country. Today, we may not have a foreign rule to show our bit of nationalism but we have myriads of opportunities to lend out a helping hand or raise voices against the oppressions done against poor farmers, hunger, price rise, corruption and other social evils. But the concept of sedition and nationalism is really in a bad shape and must be given a firm stance by the court of law essentially defining what these term means in the current state of affairs of India. It is unfortunate that nationalism is being seen from the narrow eyes and from the Hinduism perspective in the secular India. It is further unfortunate that the nationalism is being related to a particular political group/organization.

Does raising anti-India slogan accounts to sedition? Yes-it does, provided the gravity of the comments and considering the qualifiers in the freedom of speech.
Does debating Parliament terror attack convict Afzal Guru account to sedition? Not sedition but unfortunate, yes! How debating a convict’s sentence could amounts to sedition charges? But glorifying him through organizing a function is unfortunate and uncalled for. Similarly, glorifying the Gandhi’ killer is another unfortunate incident and must be acted upon in the similar way, which we haven’t seen.

Shutting down any debate through inciting the shoulders fighting and dying on the border is another nastiest analogy. There is no point and happiness in invoking a shoulder’s death to counter an argument. Happiness is glorifying them when they are alive and fighting, respecting them when they retire which we have unfortunately, failed to do. We have seen what happened to the retired shoulders when they protested for the ‘one rank one pension’, how their uniforms were torn apart and medals snatched. A shoulder’s death today is all about invoking it among unrelated topics and deriving maximum political benefits out of it. This is what the cost of our shoulder's life today. The plight of the shoulders who retire after serving the motherland is bad. They face difficulty in settling and have to seek for the jobs which they don't find easily. A shoulder who once used to stand at border protecting the nation has to stand at the gates of the mall. Do we expect that shoulder to say it aloud – “Bharat Mata Ki jai”? Do we expect a poor farmer on the verge to suicide, to say - "Bharat Mata Ki jai"? If they don't, can we blindly call him anti-national?

Today, those who calls for freedom from poverty and hunger, criticize the government for its dismal say in grassroots issues, speak against the government continuous grip on the expressing lips, and is termed anti-national. I think they are patriotic and every human should raise voice against any such atrocities, convey the message and fight till the goal is reached. 
Nationalism, then and now are nowhere comparative, incidentally and unfortunately.

*These are author's personal thoughts and does not express the views of the community as a whole.

About the Author:

Deepak Jha is a software professional from Hyderabad. In his free time, he likes to read and write about social causes and expresses his views. 


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