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City Lights
At home with Hollywood

Bonnie And Clyde, Scarecrow, The Three Musketeers, Agatha… Warren Beatty, Gene Hackman, Lana Turner, Vanessa Redgrave… Hollywood luminaries will line up to lure city cine buffs to MusicWorld next week.

The popular Park Street music store is hosting a festival of view-CDs starting Monday, to showcase its “special-import collection” of nearly 1,100 titles from the Warner Brothers stable. Film lovers can pick up their favourite films, priced between Rs 300 and 395 at a 10-25 per cent discount. The unique view-CD festival will be inaugurated at 12.30 pm on September 2 by Lee-Alison Sibley, wife of the US consul-general in Calcutta.

The MusicWorld management has organised a series of interactive sessions with noted film personalities to mark the ‘film fest’. Gautam Ghose, Sandip Ray, Samik Bandyopadhyay and Anjan Dutta will speak on diverse film-related topics from Monday through Thursday, at 4 pm. “We want to present an open house on those four evenings for film-lovers to come and share their thoughts with the speakers. It’s a celebration of good films loved by generations from one of the biggest studios of the world and an opportunity for the people of Calcutta to savour a clutch of their favourite titles under one roof,” says MusicWorld regional manager Dipra Jha.

The film fare includes such evergreen hits as The Sea Wolves (Gregory Peck, David Niven, Roger Moore), The Avengers (Sean Connery, Uma Thurman), All The President’s Men (Robert Redford, Dustin Hoffman) as well as more recent blockbusters like Tin Cup (Rene Russo, Kevin Costner), The Pelican Brief (Denzel Washington, Julia Roberts) and Tango & Cash (Sylvester Stone, Kurt Russell).

With very few movie halls in the city screening English films and the cost of tickets mounting, view-CDs are seen as a viable home-entertainment alternative these days, and the product’s popularity is corroborated by swelling sales figures, a phenomenon facilitated by a marked scale-down in hardware prices.

“We registered a 116 per cent sales growth in view-CDs in 2001-02 over last year,” says Jha. The trend is likely to continue with easier availability of original software from the big studios. “The leading studios can now look at India as a major growth centre and a wonderful emerging opportunity,” he adds.


Song sung true

Most Bengali women singers today seem to feel constrained to sound high-pitched and shrill as if afraid of hearing themselves full-throated. So, Moushumi Bhowmik’s biggest asset is her resonant voice that has a deep timbre but is yet wonderfully melodious and soothingly feminine. It is her voice that sets Moushumi apart from the common run of singers. For the past four years, Moushumi has been living in London with her husband and son. So her concerts in Calcutta have been few and far between.

But this time when she was down en famile, she sang in no less than three concerts. The first was organised by Srijan. The second was at Madhusudan Mancha for a large audience. And the third, before she goes back to London, was at CIMA gallery on Thursday evening. Like her first concert, this was meant for a small group of listeners. As usual, at CIMA gallery, too, she sang her own compositions. But here she had chosen songs, whose tunes carried overtones of folk, the kind that has an elemental quality about it. These songs matched her voice perfectly as she sang loud and clear, with only the guitar as her accompaniment, played by Dhruba Basu Roy. He has been accompanying her since her first concert.

At CIMA, she was asked whether her music is accepted in the West because it is so Bengali in form and content. In reply, Moushumi said the few times she has sung in concerts, her audience has been deeply appreciative, particularly in Germany, where the crowd spontaneously joined in with various musical instruments.

Besides singing, Moushumi has been doing serious research in the folk form and its relationship with urban folk music in Bengali. This has been facilitated by her frequent visits to Bangladesh where she has been travelling and collecting. She will perhaps be back in December for a recording session.


French toast

Moulin Rouge. Long before the Nicole Kidman- Ewan McGregor starrer celebrated the 19th century nightclub, Henri de Toulouse-Lautrec had done so in 1891. This was the bohemian artist’s debut poster, which shot him to fame.

On the centenary of his death, the Embassy of France in India, The Partner’s Club of The Toulouse-Lautrec Museum and the Alliance Francaise de Calcutta bring together an exhibition of 100 posters. These works by 100 of the best-known graphic designers from all over the world is in the spirit of the Salon des Cent, a hall which hosted a series of exhibitions for 100 prints and posters, in which Toulouse-Lautrec took part. The show will be inaugurated by Paritosh Sen at Birla Academy of Art & Culture on September 4.


Highland high

Somewhere in Scotland, in a bar in the highlands, a foreigner asked for a “good scotch”. The bartender replied, “Sir, there is nothing like a bad scotch. Some are better than others.”

The “most loved scotch in Scotland”, Famous Grouse, is in town, straight from the highlands. It’s actually a return. Famous Grouse was among the best known brands here, before the government stopped import of foreign liquor.

Famous Grouse, a brand more than 200 years old, is a blend of malt and grain whiskies, which is put in oak sherry casks to mature. Before reaching the rack of the high street spirit shop, Famous Grouse goes through 6,000 quality checks.

Two of the most significant malts in the blend are The Macallan — or what is popularly known as the “Rolls Royce among malts” — and The Highland Park — “the all-rounder”. Macallan recently created history when a 60-year old bottle sold in England for pound sterling equivalent of Rs 15 lakh.

But good whiskies, as they say, are indescribable. Must try Famous Grouse to appreciate why it finds space in Her Majesty’s bar in England. Famous Grouse comes in two sizes: a 750-ml bottle priced at Rs 1,700 and a gallon (4.5 litre) bottle, which costs Rs 8,900.

Highland Distillers have been eyeing the Indian market for a long time. It’s been almost five years since the company started investing in building the brand in India.

Famous Grouse has traditionally been associated with rugby and golf. It’s the official sponsor of the Scottish Rugby Union. Now it is sponsoring rugby in India as well.

Calcutta is the eighth city in India, where it was launched. It is extensively available in the north. Explaining the delay in coming to Calcutta, Dinesh Jain, the managing director of Highland Distillers (India) said the state government took some time to lay down its excise norms for foreign liquors.


iDream4u

Here’s more about movies. Good news is in store for small-screen film buffs. B4U has joined hands with production house iDream to be co-producer in all its films, thus procuring exclusive beaming rights of iDream’s new productions on its channels worldwide, including India.

iDream has already produced/funded/distributed films of directors like Mira Nair (Monsoon Wedding) and Gurinder Chadha (Bend it Like Beckham).

“The co-production funding tie-up and output deal will strengthen the B4U channels and ensure that the vision to create a vehicle for the complete Bollywood dream is achieved,” says Ravi Gupta, CEO, B4U.

But there’s a rider: B4U Movies goes pay from August 31.

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