The Telegraph
Sunday , August 17 , 2014
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‘Prison’ to luxe library


A corner of Jadavpur University is the talk of the campus, and off it too, among students and teachers, current and past. Walk into the Central Library of the 59-year-old university and standing in its foyer, you get a feeling of having been transported to a luxury address. “It looks like a five-star hotel,” beamed Sukanya Mallik, one of a quartet of library interns taking pictures on their cellphones. “This area was closed for months, so even we got a surprise when it was opened on July 22.”

The spruced-up corner of Jadavpur University’s Central Library. Picture by Sudeshna Banerjee

“I had been trying to renovate the place since 1999. The golden jubilee of the library and information science department is coming up. The NAAC visit in end-July provided further impetus,” smiled chief librarian Manilal Murmu when asked about the snazzy entrance.

The massive woodwork for depositing bags that blocked much of the area, leaving only a narrow passage for entry, is gone. Instead, as you enter an installation at the centre of a wide space with new flooring and concealed cove lights welcomes you.

“The job took us three months. The earlier set-up, with grilled gates on two sides and an obstructing structure at the centre, made the library look like a prison! Once a provision was made to deposit bags in an adjacent room, the structure could be removed. We took a column that was at the edge of the space as the central point, creating a circular pattern on the floor around it, so that the area behind, leading to the stairs, also looks to be part of the area,” said Suchandra Bardhan, associate professor, department of architecture.

Since the focal point needed a pivot, an order was placed for an installation with a theme stressing the universality of books. The one chosen has multi-coloured acrylic sheets shaped like books. They are affixed to steel wires shaped like human figures. “I used a variety of colours to denote the diversity of the students who come here,” said artist Tamal Krsna.

The second challenge for the planners was to integrate the old, visible parts of the library with the renovated new entrance. “We used yellow tiles to blur the contrast,” said Bardhan.

“The greatest compliment we have received has come from a colleague in another department who said that the vibe at the entrance is so positive now that students would come to the library in greater numbers,” she smiled.

Sumit Basu explains his work at Gallery Gold. (Arnab Mondal)

Banaras frames

Ritualistic Banaras, modern Banaras, the narrow lanes of Banaras, the people of Banaras, its children and also its animals — the myriad facets of the city have been captured by photographer Sumit Basu. Fifty-five such black-and-white shots were displayed at Gallery Gold recently. Titled About Banaras, the six-day exhibition was inaugurated by artist Suvaprasanna on August 1.

Basu has been taking pictures since the 1980s. “I would keep going back to Benaras, whose sights, smells, ambience... almost everything attracts me,” he said, adding that he makes his own prints.

Some pictures by Basu, like Thums Up or Gangapani or that of a photo studio juxtapose the changing city against the older one. But a majority of his shots deal with the rituals of Benaras and its people.

Boiled Beans on Toast at Kala Mandir. (Rashbehari Das)

Beans of Bangalore

The lives and travails of people living in Bangalore was the theme of Primetime Theatre Company’s latest production, Boiled Beans on Toast. Written by Girish Karnad and directed by Lillete Dubey, the play was staged at Kala Mandir on August 8. If you are wondering what Bangalore has got to do with beans, “Bengaluru” in Kannada means “a town of boiled beans”! The characters here are, however, stereotypes who could be found in any other metro city.

One of the interesting characters is Prabhakar, played by Joy Sengupta. A village migrant looking for a job, he loves every aspect of city life. Then there is Kitty, a socialite and an armyman’s wife who likes to boast of her contacts and plays dirty. Lonely wife Anjana Padabidri (played by Deepika Amin) and her son dreaming of making it big in the music industry add spice to the story. Only, a bit of humour would have enlivened matters. And in the end, one is left wishing the loose ends were tied up. Joy Sengupta does a good job playing multiple roles, slipping into Kannada and Tamil accent with ease.

(Contributed by Sudeshna Banerjee, Chandreyee Ghose and Shweta Keshri)