The Telegraph
Since 1st March, 1999
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City Lights
Three-star wonder under ramps

Bhaichung threads a through to Barreto who lobs the ball into the net. And Salt Lake stadium erupts into a rapture. If the party begins in the stands, another is already on under the ramps. But this celebration is a private gathering for reasons totally unrelated to the action on the turf. The occasion is a marriage reception and the venue is the banquet hall of The Stadel.

It’s a whole new hotel that has come up under the ramps at Salt Lake stadium. Enter by gate 3, and you face the entrance to the three-star wonder that spans the space under ramp numbers 12 to 20. “It is a first of its kind in this part of the world,” smiles Anil Bhutoria, director, Samcom Resort and Hotel Private Limited, which is promoting the hotel, while touring the expansive banquet and reception areas.

“The Stadel is a budget hotel with the ambience of a five-star outfit,” says Bhutoria. For other than the stipulated number of air-conditioned rooms with attached baths, reception and restaurant, there are plans to add a leisure pool, a bar and health club facilities. “We are doing the construction phase by phase,” he adds.

The hotel will have 20 double-bedded rooms, two banquet halls, a restaurant and two lawns where open-air programmes can be held — all under the ramps. The rooms will have a view of the lush green lawns outside. Bhutoria feels being sandwiched between the Hyatt Regency and ITC Sonar Bangla will have its advantages. “When a business contingent comes to town, their top brass usually stays five-star while others have to look for less expensive options. This hotel will provide them proximity,” he reasons, adding that the city does not have too many middle-of-the-rung options in the boarding business.

The Stadel also promises to be Salt Lake’s answer to its partying and dining address worries. The restaurant will be open to neighbours as well as visitors to the stadium who want to grab a bite in between the soirees that it hosts so often. Relatives of patients admitted in Suraksha, diagonally opposite the hotel, are also expected to benefit.

There will be free home delivery to local residents from the Indian restaurant. Bhutoria promises that at least 10 to 15 dishes will be exclusive to the hotel to give the Stadel cuisine a distinct identity. The banquet and two of the lawns will also be let out for conferences and social gatherings. “We are being flooded with booking inquiries from software firms as well as individuals even before opening,” says Arun Bhutoria, head of the group of companies that also owns a hotel in Digha. No surprises there, as a door-to-door survey conducted in the vicinity during construction had also revealed an enthusiastic response.

The hotel, by virtue of its location, is bound to be different. The facilities have been named keeping the sporting connection in mind. The restaurant thus is First Innings, the banquets Lord’s and Oval, and the open banquets Eden and Green Park. Why this insistence on cricketing appelations in a football stadium' (Only the bar is called Free Kick) “It’s all about popularity,” the director admits.

The most pertinent question, of course, is what happens during a match, with a lakh-strong crowd gathered “up there”. “The rooms and the banquet areas of course are not directly under the galleries. The stadium is acoustically so sound that there are enough air pockets to keep the noise from filtering down,” says Bhutoria, who has been ‘down under’ supervising construction during all the big dos in the year-and-a-half.

The Stadel is set to open its Gate 3 doors on Poila Boisakh (April 15) in the presence of a host of ministers and civic body chiefs.

Tall ’n’ mighty

The tallest towers in eastern India, a 500,000-sq. ft shopping mall, which will include a multiplex and performing arts centre, a 75,000-sq. ft state-of-the-art club offering world-class leisure activities, a 1,25,000-sq. ft school, parking for 2,000 cars. All surrounded by acres of lush greenery.

South City, the integrated mini-township in the heart of the city being developed by a consortium of leading real estate developers of Calcutta, promises to revolutionise the way we live. “With all the facilities, conveniences and international amenities built into South City, it might seem that New York has shifted a few thousand miles to the East,” observes Dulal Mukherjee, principal architect of the Rs 300-crore-plus project.

Coming up opposite Jodhpur Park over a 31.4-acre plot on Prince Anwar Shah Road, the mammoth mixed-use project will have three 35-storey and one 34-storey twin towers housing two to four-bedroom apartments and penthouses, with high-speed elevators, latest fire-fighting equipment and dedicated water recycling and treatment plants.

The international-quality shopping mall promises to be the largest in the country, with an entertainment zone, art gallery and parking for 800 cars. Pradeep Sureka, one of the directors of South City Projects (Kolkata) Ltd, says: “A lot of emphasis has been given to eco-friendly technology in the project.” The school inside the complex will also have a 12,000-sq, ft indoor sports arena and a football field, and landscaped gardens will account for more than 80 per cent of the project area, claim the developers.

“South City offers five-star luxury at two-star price,” says Sushil Mohta, Merlin Group MD and a director of the project. Apart from Merlin, the other constituents of the consortium are the Emami Group, Sureka Group, Khetawat Group amd Bachhawat Group. The international design consultants for the project are Smallwood Reynolds Stewart Stewart & Associates from Atlanta, while Peridian Asia of Singapore will oversee landscape development.

The other her

At home, she’s just another girl-next-door, demure and unassuming. Once on stage, she is transformed into the overpowering Chitraganda, creating a flutter in the audience with her bold and creative interpretation of Rabindranath Tagore’s much-adulated heroine.

Madhuboni Chatterjee’s frail frame belies the tremendous impact she can create with her nimble moves. The dancer started her Bharatanatyam lessons under Geeta Mahadevan and later joined Thankamani Kutty for special classes at age 10.

The Patha Bhavan student discontinued formal education after Class VIII. Since then, her education has been solely dance-orientated. Under the guidance of private tutors, Madhuboni studied history, English and Bengali literature, Sanskrit, mythology and other subjects related to the performing arts. “The decision to take me out of school was entirely experimental and I am greatly indebted to my mother for her foresight,” says the IICR-empanelled 27-year-old.

During her 10-year-long training under Thankamani Kutty, Madhuboni felt the need to be exposed to other gharanas of Bharatanatyam and would occasionally fly down south to perfect her moves under the guidance of Alarmel Valli. “I would do workshops of 20-25 days at a stretch with her. While picking up the various nuances of rhythm and postures, I had to learn Carnatic vocal and even the mridangam,” says Madhuboni, who was invited to perform at the Dover Lane Music Conference when she was all of 20. That was a daunting task and Madhumoni took home the laurels with her Navarasa Nayaki.

In 1988, she staged her debut solo choreography Vaishnav Padabali Bhanusinha — Ekti Charitra, which met with lukewarm response. A couple of years ago, she launched the Jahnavi Centre for Performing Arts by staging Char Adhyay, a Bharatanatyam-based dance-drama in the street-theatre format. But with Annya Aami, expectations are running high.

The “dance theatre” explores the polarities in Chitraganda and took three years in the making. “The dual aspects of Chitraganda would always fascinate me. My script starts at a point when she is no longer required by the men in her life, neither husband Arjun, nor son Babrubahan. There is a void in her life and she tries to realise her own being. Through my choreography, I try to essay the third persona that emerges within her, in spite of the purush-nari opposition,” Madhuboni elaborates.

Annya Aami marks the conflux of varied styles, too. Here, Bharatanatyam is fused with the martial elements of Kalaripayattu, while background music is a confluence of tarana, from north Indian classical, tillana, from south Indian classical, symphony and Rabindrasangeet.

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