Denkali’s day Soul of a poet Bar dancers Fashion passion Writer’s block

By The Telegraph Online
  • Published 25.03.07

Denkali’s day

It’s barely been a year since they kicked off their literary venture, but Sarnath Banerjee and Anindya Roy, co-founders of the comics and graphic novels publishing house Phantomville have already managed to plant their second title on the bookshelves. Written by Naseer Ahmed, a journalist based in Kashmir, and illustrated by Delhi-based Saurabh Singh, Kashmir Pending tells the story of a resolute Kashmiri boy who takes to arms to effect change in the valley. Things are moving steady on the business front, say the co-founders, adding that their first title The Believers has already had two print runs. And with Phantomville receiving about five submission proposals every month these days, mass interest in graphic novels seems to be picking up as well. On the anvil is a book on brief urban sexual encounters and another on historical anecdotes. Bring out the tom-tom.

Soul of a poet

Benjamin Zephaniah is a true rebel. The British Rastafarian poet has not had formal education, but has been bestowed with honorary doctorates in recognition of his literary work. “My poetry stems from meeting people during my travels,” says Zephaniah, who was on his 12th visit to India and in Calcutta last week on a British Council programme. “I write to connect with people and not to win awards or impress people.” The reference is to an OBE which he rejected in 2003, kicking up quite a furore in Britain. “I do not think I did anything great by rejecting the OBE, I just said no,” he says. Zephaniah, who published his first book of poems Pen Rhythm in 1980, believes that poetry and anguish are intertwined. One knows life, he says, when one cries.

Bar dancers

It’s her birthday today and Odissi dancer Alakananda Ray is in jail. And it’s all voluntary, we might as well add. Ray has for long sought to teach dance to the underprivileged. Her non governmental organisation, Inspiration Foundation, has been training children after spotting talent in slums and interacting with domestic workers. And now she is all set to make similar inroads into Calcutta’s Presidency Jail. She had been trying to do this for a while but her efforts finally paid off when the West Bengal Inspector General of prisons, B.D. Sharma, invited her over as part of an initiative to provide cultural exposure to prisoners. “I couldn’t have asked for a better birthday gift,” says Ray.

Fashion passion

First, the bad news. Calcutta-based designer Sabyasachi Mukherjee will not be showcasing his collection at the Lakme Fashion Week (LFW) to be held in Mumbai next week. Now for the good news. He will be playing a new role by chairing a workshop — titled ‘From a Genext to a Global Brand’ — at the LFW. That’s just up Sabya’s street for there is no one quite as global as the ace designer, who has just had a solo show at the Olympus Fashion Week in New York. The man’s got style — and

he is all ready to talk about it.

Writer’s block

A steamer boat is gliding languidly down the Ganges, heading for the Sunderbans. On board is author Dominique Lapierre. But Lapierre is both happy and sorry. He is happy with the medical dispensaries situated in remote villages and run by the Southern Health Improvement Samity (SHIS), an NGO funded by royalties from his books. But the best-selling author of The City of Joy, recently in Bengal to oversee the activities of SHIS, says he is dismayed by the sheer lack of interest among India’s rich to help the poor. “India’s problems of poverty can never be solved unless people with power and money unite in support of this cause,” he says. But is anybody listening?