Late but still a crowd-puller 

Bally Utsav arrived late this year, in spring. The festival that isusually held in January, was shifted to March for unavoidable circumstances. The sixth edition of the utsav drew crowds through five days with its pot-pourri of songs, dance, drama, discussions, workshops, kavi sammelans and exhibitions that were held from March 4 to 8 at Bally Rabindra Bhavan.  

By Dalia Mukherjee
  • Published 13.03.15
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Kabir Suman performed kheyal on the final day of Bally Utsav. 
Pictures by Gopal Senapati
The play, Sri Sambhu Mitra

Bally Utsav arrived late this year, in spring. The festival that isusually held in January, was shifted to March for unavoidable circumstances. The sixth edition of the utsav drew crowds through five days with its pot-pourri of songs, dance, drama, discussions, workshops, kavi sammelans and exhibitions that were held from March 4 to 8 at Bally Rabindra Bhavan.  

The opening day of Bally Utsav  was dedicated to singer Juthika Roy and American folk singer Pete Seeger, both of whom died last year. In remembrance, Chandidas Mal sang puratani songs while Srikanta Acharya rendered Rabindrasangeet and adhunik gaan. 

The festival celebrated Dol on March 5 with a film and a bouquet of spring songs by Chandrabali Rudra Dutta and Dipali Dutta. The 1955 print of Devdas, with Suchitra Sen and Dilip Kumar in the lead, was screened in the afternoon. On stage, a Kathak performance themed on spring was presented by members of Nartana Dance Academy from Uttarpara, while a local group did a dance drama on Basanta Utsav. “We organise this utsav every year because it is popular. Even this year, there were about 500 people in the auditorium,” said Anjan Das Majumdar, the general secretary of Bally Utsav Samity. 

A regular event at Bally Utsav is a workshop on religious ideas. This year, a workshop was held on March 6 with monks from Belur Math, who spoke on Vedanta based on Swami Vivekananda’s book, Vedanta: Voice of Freedom. The seminar was followed by devotional songs. Folk songs by Nazmul Haque and his band, Ujania, entertained the evening audience. Two workshops on theatre and cinema each were held on March 7 and 8. The theatre workshop, dedicated to Sambhu Mitra on his birth centenary and Khaled Chowdhury who died last year, had critic Samik Bandopadhyay speaking on their lives and contributions. The biographical play, Sri Sambhu Mitra was staged by Natyaranga in the evening. 

A photography exhibition 

The workshop on cinema was held through March 7 and 8. Keeping in mind International Women’s Day, the workshop focussed on actresses in Indian cinema. Film critic, Surya Bandopadhyay, spoke on how women characters have evolved in Indian cinema. Professor Manas Ghosh of film studies at Jadavpur University, spoke on the way women’s roles have changed, from being a victim in a patriarchal society to becoming strong and resistant characters. Other speakers at the seminar were critics Samik Bandopadhyay 
and Dhiman Dasgupta and professors Sanjay Mukhopadhyay and Anindya Sengupta from Jadavpur University. The workshop had 40 participants. 

The festival also featured a kavi sammelan and an art workshop. A number of exhibitions were on display. There was one on Suchitra Sen that drew crowds. “It was good to see photographs of the actress in different moods,” said Anuradha Ghosh from Ghoshpara, who had come to the utsav on the last day. The curtains fell with a kheyal recital by Kabir Suman.