The Telegraph
Since 1st March, 1999
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City Lights
Four fitness levels, Aussie style

A hi-tech gymnasium with Australian fitness experts on Level One; a massage centre and beauty parlour on Level Two; a diet restaurant that lets you calculate the calorie intake of your meal on Floor Three; a swimming pool and spa on the rooftop. And maybe a bar, too.

That is what Deb Pahari, a Bengali-Aussie is offering Calcuttans this winter. With work already underway on the Eastern Metropolitan Bypass, near Ruby General Hospital, the finance man from Sydney promises completion of the three-storied fitness destination by December.

“There are a lot of upmarket gyms in this city, which are doing very well. So, I am confident that there is a market for this,” says the Australian state-level boxing champ and body-builder.

“But there is a vacuum here for an entire complex providing all these services under one roof. I’m just going to be filling that void.”

The Rs 2.5-crore project, entitled Supercity International Fitness Centre (Supercity Finance is the name of his company Down Under), Pahari hopes, will be the first of many. “This will be the only one we own. I want to franchise three more in Calcutta, and, if all goes well, then I’ll take the concept around the country,” he adds, munching on a ‘fruitful’ breakfast while on a trip to town to check on the project’s progress.

Aggressive marketing is all part of the plan, with television and billboard advertising “in an organised manner, which is lacking in this industry here”.

At the Bypass centre itself, there will be instructors, fitness experts and dieticians, and it will be open to everyone. “You can ask for a week-long diet or exercise regimen, or join up long-term. Or just walk into the first diet restaurant in the city and eat healthy. The items on the menu will have the number of calories it contains right next to it, and there will be mostly nourishing stuff. The staff will all be trained, for which I’m going to get Australian experts to show them the ropes for the first month,” the muscle man explains.

So, is Calcutta up for the fitness challenge' “Calcutta is severely undersold. Everything always starts off in either Mumbai or Delhi. That’s not fair. I want to give the people here the opportunity to try something for the first time. Besides, I was born here, lived here till the age of nine and I have family here. So, I have strong ties and I wanted to do something for this city. It’s too expensive to do it in Australia and the market is already saturated there. So, I thought why not India.”

Crest of airwaves

At a time when radio is on a comeback trail on the airwaves, it is time for stations to go full throttle with programmes and promos.

All India Radio will go on air from June 27 with a new series of radio adaptations in Bengali of major literary creations of eminent writers in Indian languages. The chosen writers are Munshi Premchand, Lakshminath Bejbaruah, Bhagabaticharan Panigrahi, Pannalal Patel, Vaikam Muhammad Bashir, Gudipati Venkatachalam, U.R. Ananthamurthy, Rajinder Singh Bedi and Amrita Pritam, along with Bengali writers Bankimchandra Chattopadhyay, Rabindranath Tagore, Saratchandra Chattopadhyay and Bibhuti Bhushan Bandopadhyay. Lending voice to the project will be leading lights from the stage like Kumar Roy, Satya Bandopadhyay and Rudraparasad Sengupta. Tune in every Friday to Calcutta A at 8 pm and on Saturdays to FM Rainbow at 2 pm.

The radio these days has more than listening pleasure to offer. And what’s better than cash incentives to keep the listener tuned in' Power FM, one of the newest channels on the waves, celebrated its first month in town with an on-air contest. Beat the Bomb began ticking between songs in search of the lucky eighth caller who had to choose his moment and shout to stop the count of random cash figures being named on the radio. The figure where he cried “stop” was his. “We did not run the contest at regular intervals of the day so that there was an element of unpredictability in it. As soon as the contest was announced, all our five lines would start blinking simultaneously… But it was great fun,” said station manager Partha Majumdar.

The prize distribution was held on June 17 at a ceremony spiced up with cultural performances, where 121 winners shared the booty of Rs 3.75 lakh.

Power FM is tuning up for more contests, promises the “all-hits-all-day” channel.

Reel journey

Documentary film-maker Supriyo Sen added another star to his increasing list of accolades for his fourth venture, Way Back Home, which won the BBC Audience Award for Best Documentary at the 2nd Commonwealth Film Festival, in Manchester, and received £500. Way Back Home, which had its European premiere at the Commonwealth Film Festival, is a personal film about Supriyo Sen accompanying his parents on their visit back to their homeland in Bangladesh, more than 50 years after Partition. The film — the result of a grant from the Jan Vrijman Fund (International Documentary Festival of Amsterdam) following a worldwide script competition — will be screened in Calcutta at the British Council on July 7, with director Mrinal Sen in the audience.

Kamasutra call

It’s Kamasutra Fortnight at Oxford Bookstore, from June 23 to July 4. Through the nationwide campaign Reading Kamasutra 2003, a series of events will explore today’s changing environment, besides challenging the traditional concepts of sexuality and breaking taboos. The focus of the discussions, which will be held at the Park Street store at 7 in the evenings and are for all age groups, will be education and awareness.

On June 23, Sexplicity, a panel discussion on modern day sexual mores, include Grammy-winning tabla maestro Bikram Ghose, sports commentator and theatre personality Kishore Bhimani, author Rita Bhimani, Manipuri danseuse Priti Patel and psychiatrist Rima Mukherjee as participants. It will be moderated by filmmaker Ashok Vishwanathan.

It’s ‘Kamasutra - Sex education manual or taboo text for teens'’ on June 25. Panelists include actress Konkona Sen Sharma, fashion designer Kiran Uttam Ghosh and activist Meera Kakkar. And on June 28, listen to a debate on ‘Censorship - Books, Films, Advertising and Internet’, with Sujata Sen, director, British Council Eastern Region, Jayant Kripalani, film and theatre personality, Jayabrata Chatterjee, author and activist, and Samik Bandyopadhyay, arts critic and former member of the Censor Board, fighting it out and adman Sumit Roy moderating.

The American author of Lazzat Un Nisa: Pleasure of a Woman, Janet Fine, will discuss ‘Sense and Sensuality’ with the audience on June 30, with participation from actress Moon Moon Sen, Kishore Bhimani and others. Finally, on July 4, it’s the launch of The Sound of the Kiss - the story that must never be told, by Velcheru Narayan Rao and David Shulman. This will be followed by ‘Acts of Seduction, Words of Love’, with Katy Lai Roy directing some of Calcutta’s leading theatre poems, plays and prose, with love and eroticism as the themes, to music.

Family talk

If there’s a special day for sons-in-law, then why not the same for daughters-in-law' That’s the question to be debated at Trincas, the Park Street restaurant, on Sunday afternoon. The adda, from 12.30 pm to 3 pm, will call for an annual date for Boumashtami, with an eminent panel of participants including designers Sharbari Dutta, Mona Lamba and Pali Sachdev, actress Renu Roy, lawyer Hansa Dev Burman, and others. Parents-in-law are invited to treat their boumas at a special buffet lunch of Chinese, Indian and Continental.

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