The Telegraph
Since 1st March, 1999
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City Lights
High on film fever at home

Goopi and Bagha have sunk the Titanic. The Satyajit Ray classic Goopi Gayen Bagha Bayen, which has regaled generations, remains a hit at home to this day. View CDs of the Tapen Chatterjee-Rabi Ghosh-starrer have sold more than the Kate Winslet-Leonardo DiCaprio megahit from the MusicWorld outlet in the past five months.

The popular music haunt on Park Street released its April-August sales figures on Friday. Also figuring among the favourites are Guns Of Navarone, Mackenna’s Gold and Airport 77. But there’s no beating GGBB. “It goes to show how evergreen the appeal of this black-and-white masterpiece is,” observes MusicWorld regional manager Dipra Jha.

Ray rules the Bengali VCD racks, monopolising the top seven positions with Goopy Gyne…, Jai Baba Phelunath, Charulata, Nayak, Kapurush O Mahapurush, Kanchanjangha and Mahanagar.

The emergence of VCDs as the most popular instrument of home entertainment has led to doubling of sales. If VCD sales in all categories grew from 7,000 in April-August 2000 to more than 14,000 in the corresponding period this year, Bengali films registered a jump from 1,072 to 2,133.

On the music front, “India’s largest selling music store” unveiled information on a slew of new Bengali albums for this week. Compared to 82 albums released during the last Pujas, more than 100 new offerings are expected this time round. Saregama’s Mahisha

-suramardini remains one of the pre-Mahalaya hits, and the RPG Group label, formerly HMV, leads the Puja release rush with 32 new offerings. Prime Music has 16 new albums, followed by Sagarika (15) and Asha Audio (5). MusicWorld itself has been a new entrant this year, with 11 special compilations under the series ‘Melodies From MusicWorld’.

Bollywood hits by Kumar Sanu, Anuradha Paudwal, Amit Kumar, Babul Supriyo, Sadhna Sargam and Sreya Ghoshal are ready to hit the racks, while Asha Bhosle has come out with a new album of modern Bengali songs and a compilation of dance hits. Lata Mangeshkar’s new offering of 14 Bengali film hits is a top draw. There are two compilations of fun songs by Kishore Kumar and Manna Dey.

Pandit Ajoy Chakraborty’s Rabindrasangeet album is a big attraction. Nachiketa has followed up the superhit Ekla Cholte Hoi with a VCD, while Indranil Sen, whose Pagla Hawa tops the Bengali cassette charts, has two new festive offerings.

In Bengali CDs, the golden oldies rule the roost. Debabrata Biswas takes up three of the top five slots, while Manna Dey fills up the other two. Demand for vintage Rabindrasangeet artistes has led to pre-Puja compilations of Pijush Kanti Sarkar, Hemanta Mukhopadhyay and Kanika Bandopadhyay. Bangla bands are here to stay, with Sony recording albums of Dohar and Chandrabindoo. MusicWorld will host a Bangladeshi music festival post-Puja, promises general manager S.K. Chowdhury.

Little stars

The Class III student of Modern High School took just three days to prepare for her first ‘recording’. But that did not stop her from belting out four numbers without a blip. And now, Annesha Ganguly’s voice will be heard along with the likes of Sting and Ricky Martin on a Sabera Foundation album. The compilation on love and harmony will be released during a celebrity dinner at the Beverley Hills home of Melanie Griffith and Antonio Banderas on October 10.

Melanie was there for the four-hour recording at the state-of-the-art Sabera studio in Ghazipur at which little Annesha stole a bit of the spotlight. “Melanie aunty was very sweet. She gave me a burger, chips and ice-cream. But I didn’t have the ice cream as my grandma has said that singers should take care of their throat,” smiles Annesha. For the Sabera CD, Annesha — Twinkle to friends and family — recorded four songs, Imagine, Ave Maria, Let your soul be your pilot and the Bengali version of the Spanish song Kebonito.

If there’s one thing that Annesha regrets it’s the missed chance to grab an autograph from the Hollywood actress.

The nine-year-old — who dotes on Asha Bhosle and Shaan, loves watching cartoons and making clay toys — wants to be a singer. She is learning classical music for the past one-and-a-half years. “She has a knack for music. Besides singing, she also plays the piano and is quite good at it,” adds mother Chaitali Ganguly, music teacher in Modern High.

2 More about Sabera, the big stars and the little heroes. Even as you read this, Latino heartthrob Ricky Martin could be enjoying a magic moment, thanks to his Calcutta connection. The singer selected for the Hispanic Heritage Foundation Annual Award would be sharing the stage at the Kennedy Center, Washington, with “a grand surprise” — three of “his girls” from Kalitala!

Ashiya Khatun, 11, Anwara Khatun, 8, Shahida Khatun, 5, have two things in common — they live in Sabera’s Kalitala home for destitute girls; they are ‘sponsored’ by the Ole Ole man. According to a Sabera spokesperson, all their expenses for education, clothing and medication are borne by Ricky. When he spent a couple of days at Kalitala, Ricky gave a lot of time to his girls — playing, eating, singing with them.

When the Hispanic Federation learnt of Ricky’s “deep bond” with these girls in a remote corner of Calcutta, it contacted Sabera to get the girls to Washington and surprise Ricky by bringing them on stage to hand over the award to the man they owe their future to. Sabera and the girls were thrilled. So, off went Ashiya, Anwara, Shahida, along with a volunteer from the Foundation, to bowl over their benefactor and enjoy a trip to treasure — from Kalitala to Kennedy Center!

Designs and drapes

When the hammer went down yesterday at Sotheby’s in New York on Sunita Kumar’s A Paladian House, she was found to be sharing honours with a wide canvas of leading Indian artists, from Husain and Hebbar to Souza and Swaminathan and Sabavala. Sunita Kumar’s colourful depiction of a Calcutta building from the turn of the last century vied for honours in terms of the expected price, at US $3000 - 5000 with a couple of Husains. A fact that she shyly brushed aside.

The very inclusion of her work is as amazing as the incredulous manner in which it all happened. Kumar, who has, in her post-recovery period from a brave battle with cancer, been painting Calcutta’s varied architectural marvels “in my own spirit, my perceived colours” had her exhibition of these works this summer in London. A card sent to a friend in New York showing one of the paintings was seen by a Sotheby’s representative, who immediately asked for transparencies to be couriered to the Big Apple. An instant choice was made and A Paladian House winged its way across the Atlantic for the auction of Indian and Southeast Asian art.

Some of the social set relate to Kumar’s dalliance with designing sarees for Hermes, delicate creations in which she has been spotted at parties, carried off with panache. But that story, too, is worth recounting, if only to reinforce her philosophy of life — never miss your opportunities. She had bought a Hermes scarf and somehow it was crying to be incorporated into a sari, which she fashioned.

In Delhi, when Jean Louis Dumas Hermes saw her in it, he exclaimed: “What have you done to my scarf'” At which her retort that if they had made sarees she would wear them evoked a response. Even if it was a year later, when they asked her to become their consultant and she helped craft the Hermes sari, in a sheer silk and mousolline, each set with a blouse costing £1200 and lapped up by the fashionable cognoscenti.

But with a large number of her exhibitions having taken place in London and Florence, including her Mother Teresa series, many Calcuttans who may have not seen her range of work will get to view them next month when she has a joint exhibition of her vibrant canvases with Husain’s depiction of scenes from Devdas. Both have a common theme: their mooring in Calcutta. It will give an insight into Kumar’s conception of Vidyasagar’s House, the Raj Bhavan, the GPO and many other landmarks.

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