Director Raj Mukherjee offers tips to his child artistes
There’s a comeback kid on the film production block. Spandan Films, which made a debut splash backing Rituparno Ghosh’s award-winning Unishe April in 1994, is back in action after a two-year hiatus.
A short film for children in Hindi, Titir Rukh Gayi, is set to hit the festival circuit. The 40-minute venture has been directed by Raj Mukherjee, who was behind Spandan Film’s last project in 2001, Mala Bodol. He is also working on the company’s next feature, Shatabdir Galpo, starring Debashree Roy.
“Shatabdir Galpo is not a mainstream film. It is aimed at urban, educated audiences,” explains Keshav Roy, CEO, Spandan Films. The two-hour, Rs 35-lakh movie on 35 mm, scheduled to hit the floors on May 15, is based on a Shambhu Chakraborty story about the “exploitation and degradation of women”.
“We have done some ‘art’ films before and we felt that this was more balanced, with a universal theme that international audiences could relate to as well,” adds Roy, son of Renu Roy, founder-director of Spandan, the parent organisation with an art gallery, theatre wing and events division. The production house is not restricting itself to alternative cinema, and is considering a commercial film later this year. “It would have been a shame not to do anything after Unishe April.” The children’s film will be screened at the end of the month, while Shatabdir Galpo should be in cinemas by jamai shashthi.
The big screen is not the producers’ only target. TV is an important part of the programming agenda. “Games and chat shows to documentaries and public awareness spots — we are open to it all,” says Keshav. Corporate films, ad films and events will add to the mix. “With over 30 events a year being organised by Spandan, there is a ready pool of content for TV shows,” feels Renu, who founded the arts events banner in 1992.
Spandan Films may take the promotional plunge, with a “youthful” magazine on the arts, as a “value addition” to their main line of work to compensate for the “dearth of reading material on the arts based outside Bengal”. The Spandan Awards night, to take place late 2003 or early 2004, will recognise talent from the state in categories including film, the performing arts, fine arts, fashion and developmental work.
The Park Street-based Spandan has another revamp lined up for its youth wing. Parties, rain-dances and dandiyas will be forthcoming for Calcutta’s younger crowd. For the more artistically inclined, Spandan has a number of shows on the cards, starting with Soorya Ki Pehli Kiran Se Soorya ki Antim Kiran Tak, with Neena Gupta and Rajendra Gupta (also the director), on May 2.
Affordable Arts sales will be held at the gallery, to promote upcoming rural artists, targeting the young executive who is interested in art. “All works will be sold between Rs 500 and Rs 3,000,” adds Renu. Up next is the June premiere of Chalte Chalte, starring Shah Rukh Khan and Rani Mukherjee, an Anupam Kher solo show and another featuring Naseeruddin Shah. Talks are also on to bring Alyque Padamsee’s R&J to town.
The increasingly exciting skyline along the EM Bypass is set to get another significant boost with a new-age residential and recreation complex. Silver Springs, a joint-venture project between Bengal Silver Springs Project Ltd and Calcutta Municipal Corporation (CMC), will house 10 high-rise towers — 14 to 18 storeys high — a big-format shopping mall, an international-standard club and 100,000 sq ft of landscaped gardens.
The promoters have a proven track record, being part of such landmark projects along VIP Road like Space Circle, Circle, Space Town and Club Town. To be located near the ITC Sonar Bangla Sheraton & Towers and Science City, Silver Springs, with an 80:20 green:concrete ratio, will be a clincher in terms of positioning, claim the developers, as it would be the first residential project to come up in the “happening corridor”, which real estate watchers believe, would become the Park Street of the future.
Besides a “soothing waterfall”, the complex will have a club with all modern amenities, including a temperature-controlled swimming pool, skating rink and a floodlit tennis court. A shopping arcade for all residential requirements, medical facilities, ATM, laundry and a hi-tech security system with CCTV will add to the comfort and peace of the residents.
The buildings of Bengal Engineering College in Shibpur are delightful examples of the Gothic revival in Bengal. They are unlikely constructions for a campus but they add to the richness of our inherited architectural heritage. In 1848, Lord Dalhousie had recommended the establishment of engineering colleges in the presidencies — Bengal, Bombay and Madras — to the East India Company. Lieutenant Colonel H. Goodwin prepared a scheme to set up a civil engineering college in Calcutta.
In 1856, the college opened at Writers’ Buildings. In 1880, the college was shifted to the premises of Bishop’s College adjoining the PWD Shibpur workshop. The foundation of Bishop’s College was laid here in December 1820. Michael Madhusudan Dutt had taken refuge here after his conversion in 1846. The engineering department was housed in the western block of the workshop, a magnificent Gothic structure that served as the main building for more than seven decades.
Kaushik Basu, a student of this institution, held an exhibition of about 18 pen-and-ink sketches and washes of the buildings on the campus that ended at the Academy of Fine Arts on April 20. These finely-executed drawings are infused with romanticism and are in spirit akin to Desmond Doig’s remarkable sketches of old buildings in Calcutta. Self-taught though he is, Basu’s drawings are in certain regards better than those executed by more renowed artists. To begin with, his sense of perspective seems to be better and nothing appears lopsided. He also has the ability to build up atmosphere with a few telling strokes.
The representation of ‘Beside L2’ is steeped in nostalgia. The building is a huge crenalated citadel with broken windows and huge trees emphasising the sense of desolation. The workshop is a massive pile of masonry with rows of pointed Gothic arches. The clock tower is slender and rises tall and elegant with a weather vane on top. The turret clock was presented by Sir R.N. Mookerjee. Madhusudan Bhavan is an early example of a place of worship used by Europeans. Miniature Corner domes adorn Heaton Hall. There is not a single human being in sight, and along with the heavy foliage it is difficult to believe these buildings are located so close to the city.
By contrast, the more modern structures are lacking in grace — mere shells of concrete. Netaji Bhavan, for example, looks remotely like Chandigarh, totally out of sync with the English Gothic buildings. One wonders how they were built on the same campus at all.
Third-year students of the dance school’s Sukea Row branch perform a Bharatanatyam drill at Girish Mancha last Sunda. Picture by Pabitra Das
Kalamandalam, the Bharatanatyam school of Thankamani Kutty and Govindan Kutty, is hosting its seventh annual festival at various auditoriums of the city. More than 1,000 students from the six branches of the school are taking part in the festival, which has seen guest artistes like Chitresh Das, Bichitra Nanda Swain, Shovana and Priyadarshini Ghosh Som take the stage over the years. Picture ( left) by Pabitra Das shows third-year students of the dance school’s Sukea Row branch perform a Bharatanatyam drill at Girish Mancha last Sunday. Students of Kalamandalam’s Golf Gardens and Jodhpur Park branches will perform at Madhusudan Mancha this Sunday, followed by the Behala branch at Sarat Sadan the next Sunday (May 4) and the Salt Lake branch at Bidyut Bhavan on May 11.
All that glitters
If you have been wondering whether your jewels are worthless pieces of glass or precious stones, a few pointers are all you need.
A four-day coloured stones workshop, which got underway on Friday at the Tollygunge Club, conducted by Suhani Jain, aims to teach buyers how to grade gemstones and help them with tips to choose a piece of jewellery. Learn the ropes, with over 80 varieties of gemstones, including rare rocks like white and black opal, nephrite, watermelon tourmaline, green garnets and lemon topaz at hand.