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Let’s talk Calcutta & culture

(From left) Daniel, Alfred, Benjamin, Joshua, Peter and Gregory at Calcutta Club on Wednesday evening. Picture: B. Halder

What: Calcutta Club The Telegraph International Debate 2013, in association with Calcutta Debating Circle and sponsored by the Ashok Hall Group of Schools.
Where: Calcutta Club lawns.
When: 6pm on Saturday.
Who: Team UK — Visiting students Alfred Hinchliffe and Gregory Farquhar from Oxford; Daniel Berman and Peter Doughton from Cambridge; Calcuttans Kunal Sarkar and Ananya Chakraborti will speak for the motion.
Team USA — Ben Kornfield and Andrew Connery from Yale; Joshua Zoffer and Benjamin Sprung-Keyser from Harvard; Calcuttans Jawhar Sircar and Sudeshna Roy will speak against the motion.
Motion: Hollywood represents cultural tyranny.
Club speak: “This kind of a debate has never happened in the city before and it is even bigger than last year’s one. A couple of thousand people turned up for the Oxbridge debate last year. This year we are expecting an even bigger crowd,” said Kunal Roy Chowdhury, the president of Calcutta Club.

On Calcutta

This is the first time the boys have travelled to India and the only thing they know about Calcutta they’ve learnt either from cricket or from Google.

“I watch a lot of cricket so I know about the Kolkata Knight Riders, but that’s about it. But Greg and I went to the Victoria Memorial and it looks like it is a beautiful city. Very noisy though!” said Alfie.

“It was the original outpost for the East India Company. We didn’t know much about the city but Googled it up before coming here,” said Josh.

On cricket in general

“We talk about cricket all the time but it’s less of a crazy thing than in India,” said Alfie.

Victoria Memorial

On England’s sorry performance Down Under

“That’s because we were not very good. But the last two series we got through, the last series we got through because of the weather,” said Pete.

“No one in England bowls quick anymore,” said Alfie.

“And Mitchell Johnson has started bowling really well again,” said Pete.

On Calcutta’s football frenzy

They were surprised by the popularity of English club football in Calcutta, but they were not surprised that Manchester United had the biggest number of supporters here.

“A lot of people support Manchester United with no connection whatsoever,” said Pete.

“There are Man United fans all over England too, who’ve never been to Manchester,” added Alfie.

Apu trilogy

When told of the dichotomy in football support in Calcutta — love English club football but when it comes to World Cup support Brazil — the students burst out laughing.

On movies

These students are big movie buffs. While Ben catches up on all the movies during his holidays, Alfie will be studying films next semester. “I watched three movies on my flight here, ” said Josh. Pete watches movies on Netflix during a commute.

On Bollywood

The boys are no strangers to Bollywood and while they like the vibrancy of the films, they can’t understand the love for the whole song-dance routine in the films. Alfie has watched Om Shanti Om and attended a Bollywood night in his college where he ate food and watched a couple of Bollywood movies. “I watched some Satyajit Ray films, like the Apu trilogy, in preparation for Calcutta,” said Ben. Pete’s been to the movie hall in Wembley where they screen only Indian films. “Bollywood films are often a lot more colourful and vivid than Hollywood,” said Pete. “I can not understand the dancing in Bollywood films, I think it is meant to be symbolic though,” Alfie added.

Text: Malancha Dasgupta and Chandreyee Chatterjee