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Anthem on a starry note

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One step up: Dancer Sujata Mahapatra (third from left), disciple and daughter-in-law of Kelucharan Mahapatra, was in town from Odisha to conduct a five-day Odissi workshop with senior and intermediate dance students at Sparsh Studio for Performing Arts. Picture by Rashbehari Das

Filmstars to cricketers, TV actors to schoolchildren, musicians to magicians — Indians from across the country have come together for a star-studded video of the National Anthem that was launched in Calcutta on August 19 at Kala Mandir.

Directed by Rajeev Walia and produced by Amit Shah, the 1.26-minute video features 70 personalities from different walks of life, including Shilpa Shetty, Vivek Oberoi, Anupam Kher, P.C. Sorcar, Irfan Pathan, Yusuf Pathan, Sangram Singh, Alka Yagnik, Udit Narayan, Usha Uthup and many others. The city launch was attended by Sangram Singh, Payal Rohatgi, Richa Sharma, Raghunath Mohapatra, Sonika Prashar and Imran Zaki. Ahead of the launch, students of Screen N Stage performed to patriotic numbers like Bharat humko jaan se pyara hai and Vande Mataram to set the mood for the evening.

“I was spellbound when I saw the video! I wish to congratulate the makers for this effort. I feel honoured to feature in a programme like this,” said Imran Zaki.

The video has been released in 150 countries across 600 theatres from August 15. It can also be viewed on YouTube. “Though it took a while to shoot the video and put the whole thing together, I’m happy with the way it has shaped up. We shot at various iconic places in the country like the Taj Mahal, India Gate, Red Fort and the Konark Sun Temple in Odisha,” said the director.

Golden jubilee

The Oral School for Deaf Children is celebrating its golden jubilee this year. Set up in 1964, the school on Short Street provides English-medium education from Nursery to Class XII. A concert was put together by the students and teachers on August 8 at GD Birla Sabhagar.

A mime act by the alumni of The Oral School for Deaf Children

“As we celebrate 50 years of The Oral School for Deaf Children, we must acknowledge the contribution of the people behind the organisation — our benefactors, parents and trustees. Without their support we wouldn’t have come this far,” said president and trustee Threety Irani, before felicitating all the teachers of the school with mementos.

As part of the programme, the teachers danced to Ananda dhaara bohichhe bhubane to much applause while little kids dressed in black T-shirts shook a leg to Antara Choudhury’s popular song Ek je chhilo maachhi. Others performed to Dola re, Tu hi junoon and Vande Mataram.

However, the star performers of the evening were ex-students of the school, who put up several mime acts like Rickshawallah, Walk of Life, Dad Alone, Cocktail Party, Black Market and Mochi, each act depicting a slice of life from 1970s Calcutta.

The acts were not only entertaining but opened a window to an era gone by. The audience learnt how in the 1970s, a rickshaw fare of Rs 15 could be whittled down to Rs 5, of course after much hullabaloo. In Black Market, one got a glimpse of the nexus between cops, sex workers and drug peddlers. Though hilarious to watch, each performance ended with a message.

“Some of these acts the children performed during school functions. They took us on a happy nostalgic trip to the 1970s and brought back scenes from the past,” said Jeru Postwalla, one of the organisers.

Corporate ills

Corporates are the new baddies. An urban tribe that is eating into the psyche of the common man and taking control of their ability to think. Their weapons are organisational branding and political influence. This was the message put forth by Arnab Bandopadhyay through his dance-theatre presentation Yugaanta. Members of his troupe Darpani highlighted the nexus between corporates and politicians and blamed them for much of the ills around us. The troupe performed before a full house at Rabindra Sadan on August 12.

Theatre veteran Bibhas Chakraborty said he has known Arnab and his work for quite some time. “I’m a theatre person and to be in theatre you need to know a little bit of everything. I wish Arnab’s production and his team all the best.”

The plot drew a parallel with The Mahabharata. Abhimanyu, the hero, is caught in the trap of corporate life without knowing what is causing all his colleagues to suffer breakdowns at work. Maharshi Ved Vyas comes along to explain how inculcating qualities like good leadership and nobility of thought from a tender age could inspire the general population on a quest for the truth.

Actor-politician Debasree Roy was present in the audience. “Arnab and I go back a long way. We’ve performed together quite a few times and I have noticed that even in his early days he used to be very serious about his art. He was quick to pick up steps. Because it is Arnab, I know it means quality acting on stage,” she smiled.

Arnab, who has conceptualised, choreographed and directed Yugaanta, said he has blended classical and contemporary dance forms and used a few martial arts steps as well.

A scene from the dance-theatre Yugaanta

Suchitra Mitra festival

To mark the 90th birth anniversary of Rabindrasangeet exponent Suchitra Mitra, a three-day festival will be held at ICCR on Ho Chi Minh Sarani from September 8. Organised by Praktoni, a cultural forum comprising ex-students of Rabitirtho and Suchitra Mitra, the festival will see performances by singers Srikanto Acharya, Pramita Mallick, Lopamudra Mitra and Agniva Bandyopadhyay. There will be poetry too, as well as a photography exhibition on Mitra’s life. Rabitirtho Praktoni will stage a cultural programme and a documentary will be screened by Saregama. The music company will also organise a Rabindrasangeet competition during the festival.