| Nabaneeta Dev Sen and Soumitra Chatterjee check out the collection at Crossword. Picture by Aranya Sen
Move over dingy College Street stalls, here comes three floors of plush, air-conditioned browsing comfort. Book business has finally come of age with Crossword laying store by Elgin Road (where else!) from Friday. Spread across 18,000 sq ft, the store stocks over 70,000 titles at the moment along with CDs, audio tapes, soft toys and a café to top it all.
Started in 1992 by R. Sriram under the banner Crossword Bookstores Ltd, the retail chain has 18 branches spread across Mumbai, Ahmedabad, Pune, Vadodara, Hyderabad, Chennai, Bangalore and now Calcutta.
“Crossword is not just a bookstore, it’s a concept,” said CEO Sriram at Thursday’s inauguration. “We will endeavour to turn Crossword into a seat for intellectual and stimulating adda sessions that will encompass book-reading sessions, debates, quizzes, competitions and a host of other activities.”
Just browsing through tomes of fiction, literature, academics, management, computers and other specialised sections is as much fun without the promise of add-ons.
While the ground floor stocks best-sellers and recommended titles, the first floor throws up a huge range of stationery and gift items apart from a host of Bengali titles, magazines and books on travel, cookery, lifestyle, leisure, business management and more. The first half of the thickly-carpeted second floor is treated as a children’s corner with books, soft toys and accessories.
A story-telling session every Sunday by star guests and in-house staff between 11 am and noon promises much activity in the section. The other half stocks up on music, movies and educational CD-ROMs. A corner café on the same floor operated by Coffee Pai gives Crossword a warm feel.
Harrods and Cambridge are other contenders for the “user-friendly” wood-panelled store if author Nabaneeta Dev Sen’s verdict at the inauguration is anything to go by.
“I’ve travelled all over the world and Crossword can safely be compared with the best bookstores around the world,” she gushed while picking up an English translation of Taslima Nasreen’s poems illustrated with Rabindranath Tagore’s paintings.
Veteran actor Soumitra Chatterjee was equally “staggered” by the experience as he spent time at the new store despite a nagging slip disc.
People in his state and especially women and children can derive added comfort from the fact that none of the fixtures in the store are above five feet. “This has been done keeping in mind the average height of the Indian woman. We didn’t want the place to look forbidding like a library,” explained Sriram.
Natural wood colours and plush sofas and chairs add to the “warm and welcoming” look. And special features like dial-a-book service, 100 per cent refund and exchange policy, and Crossword gift-vouchers valid across the country are sure to add up to a winning combination at 8 Elgin Road.
— Sangita S. Guha Roy
Alone and the Other — a documentary on poet Sunil Gangopadhyay will be screened at the short films corner of Cannes Film Festival this year.
Directed and produced by Bishnu Palchaudhuri, the 30-minute film is a lyrically-executed journey into Gangopadhyay’s soul and craft. Actors Shabana Azmi and Dhritiman Chatterjee have lent voice to the script by Sankarlal Bhattacharya in the film.
“The recognition from Cannes is very encouraging,” says Palchaudhuri, a busy small screen director with commercial films to his credit as well.
Shot at sites ranging from Santiniketan to Ghatshila, College Street to Sonagachhi, the film tries to capture the man and the influences that triggered those wonderfully-crafted words.
“He is the best among the contemporary writers and I always wanted to portray his life and work through a documentary,” adds Palchaudhuri, whose short film on Shakti Chattopadhyay was screened in the International Poetry and Arts Festival at Sweden.
2 Still on celluloid, there’s good news for Gautam Haldar’s debut directorial venture Bhalo Theko. The film exploring the clash between the traditional and the modern has been selected as the only Indian entry for this year’s Munich Film Festival. With Vidya Balan in the lead, and starring Soumitra Chatterjee, Joy Sengupta and Bijoylakshmi Barman, the film was marked as one of the better tales told on screen this season. “The organisers have invited me for the German premiere of my film in the last week of June,” says Haldar.
| Film-maker Sandip Ray (left) releases the VCD of father Satyajit Ray’s Seemabaddha. Also present are the protagonist of the film Barun Chanda and actor Debashree Ray. Picture by Aranya Sen
In a city where quizzing is not just a pastime, but a passion, the Bengal Chamber of Commerce and Industries (BCCI) is celebrating its 150 years with a ‘good living and good health’ quiz, presented in association with Open Doors and Tollygunge Club. To be held at the Tollygunge Club on Saturday (April 17), with the prelims at 6 pm and finals at 7 pm, The Good Health Quiz is open to three-member teams from corporate houses, colleges, institutions and clubs.
The issues will not just be serious and medicinal, but fun as well. There will be food tasting, live demos and a guest round with leading doctors like Pronab Das Gupta and Chandra Shekhar Mukherji.
At a time when healthcare is one of the burning issues and always under media glare, the BCCI initiative is all the more relevant. And this is not the first time that the chamber is doing something like this. It has been a pioneer in organising health fairs, followed by the super success of the ‘Health and Wellbeing Show’.
“This quiz will be extremely informative for the general public in Calcutta, and because of the venue chosen, (Tollygunge Club), it will lend a classy and corporate touch to it,” says Biswadeep Gupta, BCCI president. The chamber has been instrumental in initiating steps to promote West Bengal as a ‘Healthcare gateway to the East’.
“The health sector needs to go in the right direction with the right motives. Here, profit should be looked upon as a by-product and service and awareness to the ailing should be the soul aim,” says urologist Amit Ghose, chairman of the BCCI health committee, the brain behind the health quiz initiative as well.
While the city knows Debal Sen as a prominent interventional cardiologist, not many are acquainted with his adeptness with the lens. The heart-care guru has spent the last two decades photographing the shrinking wilderness of Bengal, which has now been released in the form of a book (Wild Bengal — images of beauty frozen in time). This “tribute to West Bengal”, co-sponsored by SAF Fermion, was released by chief minister Buddhadeb Bhattacharjee recently.
These photographs, which Sen calls “the last chronicles of a vanishing Eden”, depict the incredible variety of landscapes and wildlife to be found here. From the snow-covered slopes of Singalila in the Darjeeling hills to the emerald green creeks of the Sunderban mangrove formation, the book showcases the macrocosm of the Indian landscape contained in the microcosm of the Bengal wilderness.
The book contains about 140 photographs of landscapes and wildlife. The wildlife photographs are not identification records of species, but as Sen calls them, “portraits of the spirits of the forests in an interactive landscape”.