The Telegraph
Since 1st March, 1999
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City Lights
Be Feluda in fact, not fantasy

The man on the street on the scent of a crime, acing an ace police inspector. Isn’t that what the grey cells labouring languidly on the para rock would love to do' A novel TV show, tentatively titled Goenda Iskool, promises to give just that chance to every Bengali to do a Feluda. And every viewer a Satyajit Ray; well, almost.

Visualise this scene: The victim’s body hangs from the ceiling. In his clutch still are locks of brown hair. There is no toppled stool or any support nearby to indicate that the man had taken his own life. So, a surefire case of murder. At least, Inspector Sutradhar Sharma (Rajatabha Dutta) deduces as much.

The action unfolds on the screen in front of the audience as well as the participants in the studio. And as the all-knowing over-smart inspector reaches a dead end, it is up to the sleuths to bail him out, with reel-life Feluda Sabyasachi Chakraborty guiding them as anchor. “We will halt the action at interesting junctures to pose questions to the participants who will have to use their powers of observation and logical deduction to come up with the answers. It will be an interactive show, with the prime suspects sitting in person in front of the participants. The sleuths can actually accuse them on the floor, giving them a chance to defend themselves with alibi,” explains Sougata Roy Burman of Moviewallah Communications, producers of the ETV Sunday show.

“We are showing all the clues explicitly so that there is no surprise sprung on the audience. People with moderate analytical powers should be able to crack the cases,” said Sibendu Guha Biswas, director of the fiction part. The participants who score the highest points get a shot at the final whodunnit question. “The winner’s name will be advertised in the papers, with a suggestion to the officials of the police station under which he lives to use his deductive powers,” Roy Burman adds.

Moviewallah is targeting the show at the campus crowd. “To add to the viewers’ concept of sleuthing, Sabyasachi will speak on fingerprints, forensic reports and autopsies at the beginning of each show. We will also try to bring in a top police officer to discuss celebrated cases cracked by Lalbazar or Scotland Yard or FBI,” adds co-producer Sudipto Bhowmik.

Another innovative idea is to invite plots from the audience itself. While celebrated science-fiction author Adrish Bardhan and Balmiki Arnab have penned the first 13 episodes, the producers expect the remaining stories to come from the viewers. “There is a dearth of original detective stories in today’s market. We hope to seek out the Hemendra Kumar Roys and the Nihar Ranjan Guptas. A panel of authors will screen the story ideas that come in.”

There is more in store. Detective clubs will be formed wherever there are viewers interested in the genre. “We will arrange for a monthly meeting place and perhaps take a well-known author along to give shape to the club’s activities, be it adda comparing Sherlock Holmes with Kiriti Roy or a discussion on the murder reported in the day’s paper,” says Roy Burman.

As Sabyasachi Chakraborty, who lapped up the offer because of the detective link, sums up, “Bengalis are a sharp lot and love to analyse every issue under the sun, from the thinning of the ozone layer to Raveena Tandon’s choice of roles to reasons behind the cricket team’s defeat. So the concept is cut out for the local audience. But at the same time, one wonders whether in today’s Rambo culture which worships brawn more than brain, Lalmohan babu’s Prokhor Rudra, with his 42-inch chest and six-feet-four-inch height would have been the idol rather than Feluda.”

— Sudeshna Banerjee

Jazz ’n’ blues set the tone for a sellout concert for a cause. Peace made a comeback on Thursday, when Pam Crain, Nondon Bagchi, Anjum Katyal and others took the stage at GD Birla Sabhagar for Blue Moon, the first fundraiser for PeaceWorks, a movement led by school students to promote harmony. Picture by Aranya Sen

Debut dream

Script-writing, acting, assisting in film direction. Rajat Chowdhury has dabbled in all these to find his true calling — a film of his own. The 25-year-old hopes to start shooting Black Valley Bullet (working title), a nearly two-hour feature on Kashmir militancy this August and wind up in 30 days flat. Gulshan Grover has agreed to play one of the vital characters, but the lead pair is yet to be finalised. Rajit Kapur-Nandita Das is his dream pair for this project. The interiors will be filmed at Ramoji Film City; Kulu Manali has been picked for the ‘as close to Kashmir as it gets’ outdoors.

“This is an English-language film that we are making on a shoestring budget. An NRI producer will take care of the finances. He has evinced a lot of interest in my script,” says Rajat, armed with a Masters degree in comparative literature from Jadavpur University. The camera called out to him some five years ago when he took time off from studies to act in the ETV telefilm Bhalobasha Theke Jay. Then on, he started to stay put in Hyderabad to assist in Hollywood movies like Crocodile, Nightfall and Panic. The Bollywood brush happened when he got to work with K. Ravishankar in Kuch Tum Kaho Kuch Hum Kahein, starring Fardeen Khan. Right now, Rajat is busy chalking out the details of his dream debut.

Islands in the stream

The BBC Bengali Service launches Dwipantarer Bangali, a series about Bengali settlers on India’s Andaman Islands. Starting on Friday, 6 June, the six-part documentary recounts the history of the survival of Bengali settlers in the islands once notorious as a penal settlement. In the series, the early Bengali settlers on the islands recount their days of struggle as they fled their homes in what is now Bangladesh, after 1947 and ventured into the remotest parts of the Andaman Islands in search of a new homeland. Interspersed throughout the series are their stories about how they took shelter in refugee camps in India, mustered the courage to sail for the Andamans and, finally, how they survived in an alien island wilderness.

Dwipantarer Bangali will be on air Fridays in BBC Bengali Service’s morning transmission starting at 6 am, and again in the night transmission at 10 pm. The programme is also available in real audio on the BBC Bengali Service online site,

Sense of design

There will be gold jewellery and pearls, necklaces and earrings, bridal wear, saris and ethnic embroidery. And parading these delights on the catwalk will be national and local beauties. The event is Sixth Sense, a fashion show where the latest creations of reputed designers -- Nitesh Sharaff from Sahacharii, Seema Agarwal and Lata Haralalka, not to forget Nandita Thirani, who dresses national and international stars, including actress Courtney Cox (of Friends fame) — will be displayed. Walking down the ramp at the Hyatt Regency, on June 14, in these fineries, will be Aditi Govitrikar, Fleur Xavier and Koena Mitra, among others. Choreographed by Ashish Banerjee of Rampage, the show is presented by Eventus.

Digital bonanza

British Council is organising an Indo-British Digital Film Festival, with entry open to one and all. Filmmakers can enter films of any duration and all genres, shot or post-produced in the digital format. About 45 films will be selected for the festival, which will travel around the country, before heading off to the UK. In Calcutta, the films will be screened from August 6 to 9. Application forms can be downloaded from the Council’s website or can be collected from the office on Camac Street. The last date for submission is June 10.

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