TopCat CCU saw like-minded people come together to announce the launch of the latest edition of Make Calcutta Relevant Again, an initiative aimed at creating a sustainable, networked and positive ecosystem of people who love Kolkata. CCU Festival will be held at Taal Kutir Convention Centre on October 29, from 9am to 2am.
Start-ups, networking, music, design convention, live music, dance performances, sustainability convention, innovation and much more are in store at the festival. Some of the events include MRKT, a day-long flea market; JAMSTEADY, music performances by local, national and international artistes; FLOW, a fitness convention; and more. Tickets are available at a minimal cost here.
My Kolkata, the digital media partner for the event, brings to you glimpses from the press conference, where the festival logo was unveiled
Meghdut Roychowdhury, founder, Make Calcutta Relevant Again, and chief innovation officer, Techno India Group, started off the press conference. “Ashole hocche ta ki (what’s going on actually)? This is something that has been running in our minds, not just in terms of the CCU Festival but shohore hocche ta ki (what’s happening in the city). Whenever we go outside the city, we often hear people say ‘Oh! Does this happen in Kolkata? We didn’t know!’ That is why last year we started this campaign called Make Calcutta Relevant Again. The CCU Festival is being organised as part of the campaign,” he said.
Manish Pandey, consultant to India’s biggest content companies and coach to content creators, was present at the press conference. “I have been in Kolkata for a couple of months now. What brings me here is the great energy. I’m extremely happy that something amazing is happening in Kolkata. Everything that is in perception about Kolkata is not that great when you are not here. However, when you are here, it's not that people just want to have fun here. The attitude is changing and it's very nice to see,” Pandey said.
Musician Amyt Datta is not only a part of the project, but will also be performing at the festival. “I play the guitar for a living, and that too in Kolkata. You have to keep your heart open and keep doing what you know, be honest and learn the art. Everyone needs to have an open mind. In this room, we have artists, painters, journalists etc. So, respect each other’s professions and support the system and carry on doing what you believe in,” the guitarist said.
Pauline Laravoire, co-founder and CEO of Y-East and sustainability director of Techno India Group, underlined the importance of people who are not from Kolkata getting involved. “I have been living in Kolkata for the past four years, circumstantially and happily. I am happy to say that I'd probably spend my life in Kolkata. Why does it matter? Wherever you are in the world, the people in Kolkata matter and we all need an ecosystem that is supportive and that can pull us up professionally and personally. If you come to the festival, you will meet so many new people that you never knew lived in Kolkata and who will inspire you,” she said.
Sushil Reddy, Guiness record holder for cycling 7,000km across India, dropped in during a two-day stop in Kolkata on his e-vehicle. “For me, the first connection in Kolkata when I was planning this journey with the electric car was Pauline and Meghdut. That’s the kind of strong network that they have already built in Kolkata. I like the fact that they are building the whole ecosystem here. I come from Mumbai and I know the value of such events, especially networking events. I’m sure the idea of the CCU Festival will help people to network and gain value,” said Reddy, founder of The SunPedal Ride, an outreach project to promote clean energy and sustainable mobility.
Debanjan Chakrabarti, director, east and north-east, British Council India, spoke about his experience in the UK and why he returned to Kolkata. “Both me and my wife had the great opportunity to study in the UK and had opportunities to lead a diasporic life. But we chose to come back to Kolkata and we have not regretted that decision even for a single minute in the last 22 years. There are a number of reasons. This narrative about Kolkata needs to change but the thing is there is a lot of data that shows why Kolkata is relevant. When it comes to science, technology, innovation, and research, Kolkata is absolutely up there in India and the world. We [British Council] are also celebrating the 75th year with a series of programming called India-UK Together, and as part of that we are supporting 40 programmes and festivals across India,” he said.
Sharanya Chattopadhyay from the Goethe-Institut Kolkata, Max Mueller Bhavan, described the festival as a wonderful curation of projects, themes bringing people together. “Kolkata today has a massive amount of talent in all segments, including the cultural sector and other art-related sectors. It is also about being able to project that information globally in the right way with the right connections. I think one of the key functions of a festival is to project all that information and talent in the right places and with the right audience,” he said.
Manfred Auster, consul general, German consulate, said it was great to be a part of the CCU Festival. “Kolkata is a big city and like most big cities around the world, we are faced with challenges here. The environment and the global problem of climate change. Kolkata’s wetlands are probably more exposed and more endangered. So, more than ever, it is necessary to start acting. But that is something that needs to come from the grassroots level and the people of the city. Kolkata has good places for citizens’ involvement,” he said.
Aaquib Hussain, founding partner, Freeflow Venture Builders, picked up five keywords at the meet — content, brand-building, sustainability, optimism and culture. “There is one class of doers that makes all of this possible and that is start-ups. We execute all these words we talked about. There has been a deliberate attempt on our part to bring the country to the east. Kolkata is the gateway to the east,” he said.
Nick Low, British deputy high commissioner to Kolkata, spoke about his love for the city. “I have discovered in my three years here that the way to get the local audience on your side is the culinary, the cultural, the intellectual and the literary. It’s a city with a very strong sense of its own place and a very strong love for its own culture; all of which is seen here,” he said.