The Telegraph
Since 1st March, 1999
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City Lights
Big battles on big screen
Scenes from Harry Potter and the Chamber of Secrets (top) and Armaan (centre). (Bottom) Director Gautam Ghose shares a laugh with Tabu during the shooting of Abar Aranye in the Gorumara forest

The films are flowing and with the holidays on and the heat chasing everyone into air-conditioned indoors, it’s not a moment too soon. With the producer-distributor stalemate over broadcast of young releases on TV on hold (though not resolved) the Bollywood flicks are rolling out to compete with Hollywood and Tollywood stuff. Here’s a look at the battles within battles on the big screen…


It’s calling all children as far as the English fare goes. And the nerve-centre is Nandan. A final call for all those mad about the magical world of Hogwarts, but missed Harry Potter and the Chamber of Secrets at New Empire. It’s shifted now to Nandan II, after four weeks at the New Market hall. After a wait-too-long, kids have been crawling all over the film, parents in tow. But that doesn’t mean the older crowds have been left out for this more thrilling second instalment of the J.K. Rowling series. The frequent “ki bollo, ma… ki holo, baba” calls and the dark dangers notwithstanding, kids are having a blast as participants in Harry’s second encounter with Voldemort.

The kids are leading in the crowds at Nandan I, too, with over 80 per cent collections proving that the older, wiser Mowgli still has what it takes. Jungle Book 2 opened last Sunday to over 93 per cent attendance. The expectations are high for a sold-out second weekend and hopes are strong for a three-week run, before moving down south to Priya.


From the animated jungle to the Gorumara forest, Bengali-cinema lovers are out of the woods for a while with a trip down tinsel-town memory lane. Tabu joins ‘old gang’ Sharmila, Soumitra, Samit and Subhendu in Abar Aranye. The critics are happy, and so is a substantial section of the crowds. The opening weekend collections were around 80 to 85 per cent and the rainy week brought in over 60 per cent consistently. The Goutam Ghose sequel is expected to have at least a “six to seven week run” at Priya. And plans to revive the Satyajit Ray original, Aranyer Din Ratri, and screen it simultaneously, could serve up something special.

The sentimental favourite has for company an out-and-out commercial film with a fresh face, Ranjit Mullick’s debutante daughter Koel. The “romantic comedy”, starring Jeet of ‘superhit’ Saathi fame, has also been doing well and is expected to “easily” cross the 100-day landmark at Prachi and Darpana.


The much-awaited love-triangle Andaaz, featuring The Bodies — ex-Miss Universe Lara Dutta, ex-Miss World Priyanka Chopra and action-man-turned-romantic hero Akshay Kumar — is finally in town. It takes on Amitabh Bachchan in Armaan, and yet another triangle with Anil Kapoor, Gracy Singh and Priety Zinta-at the three angles. The industry buzz indicates that the Big B magic — white wig and all — hasn’t quite worked. ‘Son’ Anil’s performance has earned praise but second-week sales have shown “no improvement”. And, according to initial indications, the advance ticket sales of Andaaz are “not doing badly”. So, will ‘bod’ rule over Bachchan'

10,000 and counting

President A.P.J. Abdul Kalam — also a best-selling author — formally launched Penguin India’s 10,000 Club on May 20 at Rashtrapati Bhavan. David Davidar, CEO of Penguin India, presented him with special-edition leather-bound copies of his books India 2020: A Vision for the New Millennium and Ignited Minds: Unleashing the Power within India.

The President’s books have both sold over 50,000 copies, and are high up on the Club list, which comprises over 100 titles that have sold more than 10,000 copies across the country. Launched to commemorate Penguin India’s 15th year, the initiative also includes writers like Ruskin Bond, Satyajit Ray, Upamanyu Chatterjee, William Dalrymple, Gurcharan Das, Shobhaa De, Maneka Gandhi, R.K. Laxman, Mark Tully, Khushwant Singh, Arundhati Roy and Taslima Nasrin.

For every two books under the 10,000 Club banner purchased, book-lovers get a third of equal or less value free.

Model Piu Sarkar conducts an art workshop at a summer camp in Ffort Radisson. Picture by Aranya Sen

Brush with Tanjore

Some of the most divine looking Bal Gopals can be seen in Tanjore paintings. Krishna may look his best in the miniature paintings, but somehow the ornate settings of Tanjore paintings go very well with this bejewelled little baby with a cherubic face and without the swaddling clothes that infant Jesus is depicted in, in Christian art. At one time artists who specialised in creating these religious pictures lived in Tanjore, 300 km from Chennai, or in Salem. They still do, but their art has travelled widely. Besides the bright pigments, the semi-precious stones with which these paintings used to be studded created the illusion of these being three-dimensional. In certain cases they are also studded with gem stones, diamonds included.

Perhaps because of their opulent look Tanjore paintings have of late become very popular. They are displayed in the secular settings of private homes and corporate offices. So exhibitions of Tanjore paintings in art galleries have become quite common. Manisha Singhania has lived close to these artists and she is now holding an exhibition of Tanjore paintings which she collected from the temple town. These paintings come in several sizes, their prices varying accordingly. Since they are all gilded with 24-carat gold leaf, the prices are on the steep side — Rs 1,500 to Rs 50,000. Singhania says she had a hard time trying to learn their craft from these very orthodox artists. The themes are garnered from mythology, the standard ones being Gopal, Ganesha and Ram. Singhania has them on display for three days Friday onwards. The address is 4 Dover Park, off Ballygunge Circular Road.

Fun time

It’s all happening at Calcutta Club this weekend, with belles strutting their stuff at the May Queen Ball on Saturday evening and kids participating in family fun at an ice cream-eating contest on Sunday. The May Queen will be chosen from the bevy of beauties by a celebrity panel of judges, and the evening will also host live music and a dance performance.

The big bonanza however, is on Sunday, with the ice cream-eating contest open to all members, young and all, from 11 am onwards. So all those melting in the heat, fill yourself with the cold, sweet stuff to your hearts’ content. And when you want some ‘real’ food, venture into food stalls, to be set up by several city restaurateurs, before finishing up with a final course of Thai.

Also on the menu are games and contests for everyone — ice cream decorating for the ladies, magic show for the youngsters and a gaaner adda, followed by a fashion show, for all and sundry, where ethnic clothes will be displayed by top Calcutta models. From 8.30 pm, the dance floor is open, with music by DJs. So, forget the flyover, head for the club and enjoy.

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