The Telegraph
Since 1st March, 1999
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Mind games, cross-country

The mastermind man has come calling on campus. University Challenge, a quiz show for students hosted by Siddhartha Basu, premiered on BBC World on Thursday. And along with it, a roadshow to launch the contest took off around the country, starting from Calcutta.

The weekly quiz show is the Indian version of the UK programme that has been on air for 40 years. Having been launched on August 7, it will go on air every Thursday at 10 pm, with a repeat on Sunday mornings at 10.

The roadshow, where students had to answer questions to win prizes, travelled to St Xavier’s, Lady Brabourne, Presidency, Hazra Law College and Jadavpur University, amongst others. The winners of the promotion had the chance to dine with the quizmaster himself at Baan Thai on Friday night.

In the “classic quiz”, two four-member teams come face-to-face in each 30-minute episode, shot in Noida. The response from India was “very good”, with around 350 entries from across the country. A written elimination round brought this number down to 28, including Jadavpur University and the Indian Institute of Management, Calcutta.

After 12 preliminary rounds, there are eight pre-quarter finals for the 12 winners and the four highest-scoring losers, followed by four quarterfinals, two semis and the final. The India winners will then take on the champions of the 2003-04 UK edition of University Challenge. The champions will be sponsored on an educational tour of the loser’s country.

The first month features four exhibition quizzes between UK teams which were the first-round finalists of the British version and those from across the country. The first — IIT Madras vs Birbeck College, University of London — has already been broadcast.

“Becoming the UK champions in this show is really very difficult. But it is interesting to note that the Indian team beat its competitors easily,” said Basu during his trip to the city last week.

The IIT achievement is even more commendable given that their competitors were far older, with the youngest from Birbeck being a 35-year-old and the oldest 57.

Jadavpur University’s face-off with Edinburgh University will follow, with S.P. College of Engineering, Mumbai, then taking on Aberystwyth, University of Wales, and RV College of Engineering, Bangalore, matching wits with Queen’s University, Belfast.

The “animated, high energy” University Challenge is, according to the host, very different from the “austere” Mastermind. “There is even some room for informed guessing, which there really isn’t in Mastermind,” says Basu.

But in what could be an indicator that quizzing has hit a low in Calcutta, the least number of entries was received from the east. “Now the most organised quiz circuit is in Bangalore,” says Basu. But though Calcutta maybe falling behind in the answer game, Bengalis are not. “So many of the faces we see from other cities are actually Bengali, even if they aren’t from here,” he adds.


Career tips

The arts faculty placement cell of Jadavpur University organised an energising rendezvous between students and career counsellors on Saturday. Creating a result-oriented approach was the objective of the workshop, enabling students to choose a career and act upon it effectively.

ITC, Action-Aid India, Tata Steel and Parichay Advertising and Mass Communication were some of the participating agencies. CV designer Anindita Banerjee also provided some tips.

Questions on aptitude and attitude were thrown at the speakers. A discussion on how to put together a CV was followed by mock group discussions and interviews. Progressive job-search strategies and current market information from the professionals proved valuable. Even topics on how to deal with downsizing in the workplace were broached.

The feedback from the 80 students present was overwhelming. Clearly, such initiatives are welcome for students seeking guidance on how best to carry forward their careers.

— Anisha Bakshi

On target

Lakshmipat Singhania Academy’s Lakshya ’03 was held from August 6 to 8. Starting with offstage events on the school grounds, the inter-school fest drew participants from 14 institutions. They fought it out, creating limericks in Humrix, hair styles in Hair-raisers, exotic dishes in Bawarchi (non-gas cooking only) and tattoos before trying to find the hidden treasure in Dhoondte Reh Jaoge. Most schools got their share of awards, but the day was dominated by the hosts. Day I ended with a dance at Incognito, Taj Bengal, organised by the Interact Club.

The fest was formally inaugurated by the school principal at Kala Mandir, with film-maker Goutam Ghose and actor Abhishek Chatterjee in attendance. After this, the school band put up a show, followed by the Talcameleon (turncoat debate) and Brainwave (quiz), where the girls from St Thomas and the boys from Birla High School hogged the limelight. In Refusion, school bands came up with a mix of Indipop and English songs. But Taal Tarang, the choreographed dance, was definitely the event of the day, as the hosts dazzled the crowd with a thematic performance dubbed Meghmalhar.

On the final day, the stage was set for Saaz aur Awaaz (Antakshari), where six teams fought there way to the finals. But finally, the girls from Shri Shikshayatan left their opponents song-less. The Fad Ads spoof tested the innovation of the young minds, with the Apeejay team emerging the most creative. It was Radio Lakshya, a DJ competition, that set the fest apart. Students played original mixes, which were broadcast live on 93.5 Red FM. Here, Kunal from the host school was simply outstanding and one of the judges, DJ Ash, even invited him to Mumbai, offering him a crash course and a professional launch-pad. The old favourite, a fashion show, couldn’t be left out, with the hosts outclassing the rest.

Guest performances were followed by the prize distribution. Though Lakshmipat students won the overall champions trophy, they handed it over to the school which ended in second place, Apeejay.

— Nihar Jain,
Class IX, Lakshmipat Singhania Academy


Show of strength

Dekhe Kisme Kitna Hai Dum was the theme of Utkarshan, the annual festival of the Interact Club and the Nature Club of Ballygunge Shiksha Sadan, with eight schools including Don Bosco Park Circus, Future Foundation, South Point and Apeejay taking part. The off-stage events were held on August 7, featuring tug of war, face painting, writing and alpana, with Apeejay School sweeping most of them. On August 9, the on-stage events followed, marking the return of singer Priyodarshi Bhattacharya aka Bango, popular on the fest circuit a few years ago, as emcee for the day. Extempore and western music were rounded off with a medley, hosted by another singer, Jayant Lalwani, which saw Don Bosco steal the honours. The hosts and Don Bosco won the fashion show and dance, respectively.

The trophies for overall performance went to Don Bosco, followed by the hosts and Apeejay. Mayank Bajaj of St Lawrence and Suparna Das of Apeejay were pronounced Mr and Ms Utkarshan. Debolina Banerjee of the home side was named “Star of Utkarshan”.

A school for the underprivileged, which the girls of Ballygunge Shiksha Sadan have “adopted” as one of their social projects, also showcased its talent at the two-day fest.

— Sangeet Shirodkar,
Class XI, Apeejay School



A pre-teen singer found a professional platform last week. Twelve-year-old Atreyee Ganguli was launched with Natun Joaar, an album of songs written and composed by Biswaroop Ghosh and arranged by Mayukh-Mainak. Madhushree Das, 23, has also performed on the album, produced by Abhuraag, a new agency aiming to promote fresh faces.

Atreyee, who has been training in the Rabindrasangeet and classical disciplines since nursery, grabbed the opportunity. “Someone heard me at a local function and recommended my name for the project,” recalls the student of Pratt Memorial, for whom the adhunik collection was a pleasant departure. To be famous is her ultimate goal, but singing is not the only route to glory for Atreyee, who also wants to be a surgeon. The Virgo is game to take up any other offer that comes her way.


British basics

Did you know that Andrew Motion is the Poet Laureate of England' Or that Calcutta Chromosome is a novel based on research by Ronald Ross on malarial parasites' The British Council and Landmark Inter College Quiz Competition was held at the British Council Library on Sunday. Over 40 teams from 22 colleges and universities participated in the event, where all questions were connected to British literature. Teams from IIM Calcutta, IISWBM, St Xavier’s College, Presidency College, Loreto College and Jadavpur University engaged in the battle of wits conducted by Charanpreet Singh.

There were special rounds on contemporary writers, music, movies and sports based on the central theme. Finally, the team from the Indian Institute of Engineering and Management was declared winner, followed by JU and IIMC.

— Harsh Vardhan Sonthalia
IIIrd Year, B.Com, St Xavier’s College

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