Boys from the fort school

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By The Telegraph Online
  • Published 13.04.08

Last week, city-based pupils of The Scindia School, Gwalior, crowded in a hall where their principal N.K. Tewari was holding court. The occasion was the eastern India launch of The Fort Pupils, a commemorative volume on a school that has stepped into its 111th year.

Their enthusiasm befitted youngsters in uniform but their greying locks gave away the fact that they had stepped out of school and enrolled into the Scindia Old Boys Association (Soba). As the school anthem was sung, lead singer Pradip Rungta, class of 1972, deferentially asked Tewari: “Sir, thik hua, na (Was it all right)?” The principal was moved, though not surprised. “The other day Mr Singhi called me sir. He passed out in 1965. I was in Class VIII then.”

The book was released by danseuse Tanusree Shankar, whose identity on the occasion was as the wife of Ananda Shankar. “The first meeting of Soba took place in our house in 1984. Madhav Rao Scindia had come and the two of them were discussing where to hold the meeting. I suggested our hall downstairs,” she recalled.

The evening concluded with an audio-visual presentation on the school bosomed in the historic fort which Rani Laxmibai of Jhansi had attacked and died in the process, where Baiju Bawra sung for King Man Singh Tomar…. The book encompasses all the history within its covers while taking its activities down to the setting up of the computer section. “When the CBSE introduced computers as a subject, the four students to take the first all India test in 1985 were all Scindians,” the principal said. Achievements befitting the motto for the 111th year — Ek se badhkar ek se badhkar ek.

Hungarian frames

Hungarian photographer Eifert János is busy shooting what he intends to title the Calcutta Portraits. Calcutta, he says, is a city of dynamic faces and beautiful people.

“There is a wall close to where I live and one series I am working on is photographs of all that happens on and across it. The wall for me is a metaphor of life,” says Janos, whose work was on display at the Academy of Fine Arts from April 8-13.

As a host of city-based photographer Mala Mukherjee, Janos will be scouring the town with his camera till April 23. The Calcutta photographs, says Janos, will be mostly like a report unless he wants to experiment with them more later on. A number of photographs displayed at the Academy were of the “reporting” kind, recording the pristine beauty of the beaches and architecture of Arabia. Also on display was one of his first photographs, of the legendary mime artiste Marcel Marceau.

To Janos they are not as important as his montages. “Even in the first Marceau photograph I had taken with the classical film, I did a montage with another image. But in the last five or six years I find myself turning more and more to the digital medium to give the photographs the meaning and power I want.”

Janos, who started off as a folk dancer, visited India as part of a group in 1974. “I performed in Varanasi and Calcutta but I was not a photographer then,” he laughs.

On song

Dakshinee, known for nurturing many a Rabindrasangeet singer, turns 60 on May 8. To mark the occasion, the music and dance school at 1 Deshapriya Park is launching its year-long diamond jubilee celebrations on Sunday at Nazrul Mancha.

Veteran singer Suchitra Mitra will inaugurate the show. She along with Subinoy Roy and Ashoketaru Bandopadhyay had taught the first batch of 12 students.

Leading the 400-strong group of budding singers at Nazrul Mancha will be past students Ritu Guha, Srikanta Acharya, Suparna Bhattacharya, Krishna Hazra, Rono Guho Thakurata, Abhirup Guho Thakurata and Snigdha Ghosh.

Dakshinee was started in 1948 by Subho Guho Thakurata, who wanted to “create a school upholding Tagore’s ideals in thought and action”. The syllabus follows the one of Sangeet Bhavan in Santiniketan.

The school runs special classes for those in the 50-plus age bracket. There are also classical dance classes for girls and the inaugural show will showcase students from the Manipuri, Kathakali, Bharatanatyam and Odissi streams. Dakshinee has branches in London, Toronto and Delhi.

From May, Dakshinee will organise two programmes each month throughout the year. Plans are on for an anniversary and convocation ceremony on May 1 at Kala Mandir, the launch of the school’s website, a three-day Tagore music conference and a week-long soiree.

(Contributed by Sudeshna Banerjee and Sebanti Sarkar)