Tag Archives: Kolkata

The Homecoming

Written by: Angana Sengupta

Source: Pixabay

Dr. Aryahi Banerjee,
Head of Research
Indian History and Culture
Michigan University
MI 48109

Dear Dr. Banerjee,

We are pleased to invite you to the “International Conference on Indian Culture and History”, scheduled from the 20-26th of September 2017 in Calcutta University from 9:30 am onwards.
It is an honour and privilege to invite you as the Key Speaker of the conference on the Significance on Indian Culture and the Transitional Changes over the years. We believe that your contribution to this field is unparallel and that your speech will be of utmost benefit for all our students.
We look forward to a positive confirmation by the 20th of August 2017.

Yours sincerely,
Dr. Srikanto Mitra,
Head of Indian History and Culture
Calcutta University.

Finally the call had come.
Tickets booked. Passports taken. Bags packed. It was raining the morning Aryahi had to leave for Kolkata. It had been 10 years since she had last been to her city, to those known lanes, to the same house that once welcomed her with open arms.
“Why are you so cold ma?” asked Kuhu, her daughter. Her only solace in a world full of regrets and agony. “Nothing my love. I think it’s the rain”, lied Aryahi, while in reality there was a huge pandemonium going on in her mind. She even had the thought of leaving the flight and going back to the life she had chosen. At least no one would judge her there for her choices. But, it was too late. She had promised Kuhu a vacation to the origins she belonged. Also, she had one last unfinished business to take care of.
“Welcome to Netaji Shubhash Chandra Bose Airport. Outside temperature is around 30 degree Celsius, partly cloudy. Please collect your baggage from belt number 2…” Aryahi woke up from her dream. “We have finally reached Ma. Time to go”.
The same smell of wet soil, the same humidity and the same cacophony which Aryahi had left behind hit her back again. Tears rolled down her cheeks. After boarding the taxi and calming herself, she finally realised the reason behind feeling incomplete all these years even after she had everything. It was this city that she had missed. Its people, the yellow taxis, the riksha-walas, the traffic, the sweet shops, the Rabindrasangeet rehearsals from every second house, its celebrations and Durga Puja being round the corner, the city had decked up like a new bride as a custom every year. It was Kuhu’s first time to Kolkata.
Aryahi paid the taxi driver and entered the lane she had long left behind. After freshening up she headed straight to Calcutta University for her lecture as she hardly had time left in her hand. Kuhu tagged along with her because after the lecture got over Aryahi had promised her a city tour of Kolkata.
As she entered through those rustic gates of the University, she could see her college life literally flashing by her side. That college canteen, the smell of ‘bhaar’ tea, that guitar, those music and the constant political slogans protesting against something or the other were resonating in her ears. She could literally spend the entire day just walking by the campus and College Street. So many memories, so much of happiness and with that came back all the pain which she had once hidden within.
As her ritual Aryahi took Kuhu to the canteen, ordered ‘kochuri’ and ‘torkari’ along with a ‘bhaar’ of tea and all her tiredness just vanished. To her surprise even Kuhu did not complain even for once for being jet lagged. Might be even she was very excited to be in the city which she had only heard of and seen pictures that also after a lot of requests.
Aryahi began her speech upon the significance of Indian Historical Architectures and their symbolisms when she found a familiar face in the crowd. The face she could never forget the face that once meant the world to her; the face which was once the epitome of love for her…the face of her beloved Lolita. She stood there awestruck for five seconds not knowing what to do as she knew her tears were now not going to stop. Lolita on the other hand adorned her most astonishing smile that easily spoke about the years missed, the nights not slept and most importantly the love that was missing.
As her lecture got over, Aryahi rushed down from the stage to meet Lolita…her Lolita, but unfortunately she was surrounded by so many students and organizers that she just could not leave. Aryahi had authored a book this year itself and she had to also go for the ‘Q and A’ session. The auditorium was jam packed. Aryahi made Kuhu sit in the front row along with other professors. She had never seen a 15 year old so calm and composed. She felt proud and also scared but now was not the time to back out.
As the question and answer round began Aryahi came across a very strange question form one of the gentleman in the crowd. The question was very simple yet it hit Aryahi to her guts when she saw the face of the man. It was her father. The man who held her hands and took her through the ages of History. His question was very simple,“When will you come home Rahi?”
That moment Aryahi felt that the entire world came toppling down on her. The father, the family, the happiness, the culture, the emotions, everything that she had left ten years back was now standing just in front of her. The entire auditorium looked into the eyes of that expectant father, who had long longed the love of his only daughter, his pride who was no longer there to hold his hands.
Aryahi came down of the stage and immediately touched the feet of her father for his blessings. As she looked up this time she found her father was not standing alone. Lolita was holding his hand this time. She did not know what to say or what else to expect. To her surprise even Kuhu bent down to touch the feet of her grandfather and then Lolita.
Aryahi’s father had come to take his daughter home along with Kuhu. Ten years was a lot of time for him to realize his mistake. As Aryahi entered her lane of her house she could hear the dhaak along with the conch shell. Aryahi’s mother was standing at the door to see her daughter. Her mother hugged her and broke down in tears. This time even Aryahi could not stop herself. She hugged her, kissed her, and cried along with her. It was Lolita who picked up both the woman and along with the other took them in.

Maa Durga
Image Courtesy: Samhati Bhattacharjya

“Finally Ma Durga has come back after ten years. This year, Banerjee bari’s Puja will finally be successful. O ‘dhaki’ play the ‘dhaak’ harder. Can’t you see Ma Dugga has come home?”, was all Aryahi’s aunt could say while hugging her. This was Shashti. After 10 long years, the Banerjee family was finally celebrating Durga Puja.
Kuhu was finally happy to get a family filled with cousins, uncle, aunts and grandparents. For her everything seemed to be complete. On Dashami, the final day, when everyone was playing with vermillion, Aryahi’s father called in Lolita along with the entire family. It was time to amend something he should have done long back.
Aryahi’s father took Lolita’s hand and put it into his daughter’s hand and said “It was a mistake that I had done 10 years back by separating two people who loved each other by not realizing the fact that love sees no gender, no caste, no religion. All one wants is to love and to be loved. And I know you both have punished yourselves enough for your family, for the fear of society. But, the time has come for you guys to be together forever.”
Aryahi could not believe that this was happening. It was 10 years back that on the same day she left her family as they never realized her love for Lolita and now this Durga Puja the same family wanted to unite them forever. Aryahi looked at Kuhu. She had tears in her eyes and an enigmatic smile on her face. It was then she realized that all this while the only truth that she had hidden from her daughter and dreaded the most was already known to her.
Kuhu had found an old letter Lolita had written to Aryahi long back in college. She was then intrigued and upon doing further search she came to know about Aryahi’s past. She knew she was adopted and that is the day she started loving and respecting her mother more. She had decided come what may she would give her mother all the happiness she deserved and her happiness was Lolita.



Women’s Day Special: An Interview with Sreemoyee Piu Kundu

International Women’s Day is all about celebrating the social, economic, cultural, and political achievements of women. Thus, we celebrated this Women’s Day with Sreemoyee Piu Kundu, a writer and a former journalist who shared her thoughts and ideas with us.
1. Tell us about being an author – what made you write? Did you always want to 
become an author since childhood?
Sreemoyee: I have always loved writing and was a journalist for over a decade, but being a full time writer was a decision that I took spontaneously after a holiday in Australia, after which I came and quit my job in PR. I never knew then that this would be my path.
2. What’s the earliest memory you have of writing a story?
Sreemoyee: I was in school where my essay won the first prize, I wrote a lot of poetry as well since I was an only child and mostly voiced my aloneness.
3. Please tell our audience about your first book Faraway Music. How did you decide on the topic?
Sreemoyee: My first book, Faraway Music was mostly autobiographical and told the story of a writer coming back to her roots.
4. Your second book was titled Sita’s Curse. It is a rare topic. What was the thought process behind the book? 
Sreemoyee: Sita’s Curse was a feminist erotica. And told the story of a 39 year old housewife’s sexual destiny, as she’s set free by her own physicality.
5. What kind of research you had to do for the book?
Sreemoyee: Interviewed a lot of women from conservative households who were largely used to existing as dull, asexual creatures, victims of marital rape and also sexual exploitation by Godmen.
6. Your third book is out for the readers. What do you want to say about this latest book of yours?
Sreemoyee: My third book is titled “You’ve got the wrong girl”. It’s a lad lit, a fun and racy male romance that is a contemporary retelling of Shakuntalam.
7. If you had to do it all over again, would you change anything in your latest book?
Sreemoyee: No 🙂
8. How should a first time author leverage his book to a publisher? And how did you go about doing the same? 
Sreemoyee: These days there are literary agents who are the middlemen. I sent my proposal to publishers and was lucky with Hachette.
9. If you had to choose, which writer would you consider a mentor? Which one is your favourite book?
Sreemoyee: I consider Sylvia Plath as my mentor. I have too many, really, it’s hard to pick any one.
10. Would you say that anyone who has a flair for writing can write a book? Is there a large enough audience for Indian writing in English now with so many young Indian authors publishing short stories and novels?
Sreemoyee: I think writing has suddenly become inspirational but the quality has gone down, also there is a clutter and publishers hardly promote books, so a lot of good writing is lost.
11. What’s your take on women authors in the country? How can Indian women empower themselves in a better manner?
Sreemoyee: We should tell the stories we believe in, unfettered.


12. What next? Tell us about your upcoming books.
Sreemoyee: I am currently working on my nonfiction on single women, Status Single.
13. Any quote from the book that is your favourite?
Sreemoyee: ‘Everyone deserves a love story!’ You’ve Got The Wrong Girl!
14. Any message, tips for aspiring authors?
Sreemoyee: Own your voice 🙂

Women’s Day Special: In conversation with Ekta Bhattacharjee

She is only 24 and at this age she has received it all that any youngster would dream about. Be it success, fame, love, appreciation: she has achieved all these. Thus, on this special occasion of International Women’s Day, we celebrate the inspiring journey of Ekta Bhattacharjee, a professional designer who has given a new dimension to artwork.


Q1. You are an artist, designer, art director and now an entrepreneur. Please tell us about your journey.

Ekta: The journey has been an extremely beautiful one, with mostly ups and a very few downs. It has been a dream run for me… getting to work in almost 110-115 projects, with so many legendary artists from the country as well as abroad, that too within the age of 24 is obviously a matter of pride for me and more than that it gives me a sense of happiness and satisfaction. As an art director, I am assisting a lot of people, studying loads of books about this department. I guess I need to learn a lot more .

And as far as the entrepreneurship is concerned, I have just started. I have always wanted to have my own designing house, where I would get the opportunity to work with other talented designers from the city. I generally don’t work for free, so I try to make sure that people who are working for my agency get their respective remuneration/salary on time. Because ART IS NOT FOR FREE.

phera  poster facebook

Q2. You have designed a poster for “Kaalmrigaya” and “Phera” starring Soumitra Chattopadhyay. Share your experience with us.

Ekta: Oh yes, I got the opportunity to work with him in Kaalmrigaya and Phera. But that happened only because of his daughter Poulami Chattopadhyay (actor and director herself), who gave me the opportunity to work with him. It is absolutely an enriching experience to work with this legend. He is an institute himself, there is so much to learn from him everyday. He is the most energetic and enthusiastic person I have come across and beside that he is extremely kind and caring towards the people he is working with.


Q3. Walk us through your recent artwork for a plays like “Abishkar” by Dulal Lahiri and “Ghasiram Kotwal” by Sujan Mukherjee.

Ekta: Working on these two big projects at the same time was very challenging for me. I was aware that both the projects would need a lot of commitment, time, energy and much more and I am pretty happy with the end results of both. People have appreciated both the art works and at the end of the day that’s what mostly matters to me. I feel extremely happy to have worked in plays like Ghasiram Kotwal and Abishkar

abishkar poster 20 by 30

Q4. How was your feeling working with Mr. Mahesh Bhatt for the Hindi play titled, Hamari Adhuri Kahani?

Ekta: Working in a Mahesh Bhatt project is definitely one of the highest points of my career. And he himself is a very generous man. He takes keen interest in all the department of his play and films. One of his team members noticed my “Felicity” poster and referred my name to him and I was on board the very next day. When the play was premiered in Kolkata, I was very emotional to see my art work placed all over the city.


Q5. Tell us something about your other notable works.

Ekta: Well, there are many like:

  1. Attiyoshojon by Dolly Basu
  2. E- project by Sujoy Prosad Chatterjee
  3. Felicity by Tathagata Ghosh
  4. Ghasiram Kotwal by Sujan Mukherjee
  5. Book covers like Rahul er scrap book, Ramayanika, Shalo Songslesh for Saptarsh Prokashon
  1. Dont Send me to School by Humar Amed


Q6. Among all your works, which one is your favourite?

Ekta: Very very difficult to choose. All are extremely close to my heart. I had spent days and nights creating them. Each and every artwork is extremely special to me, so I can’t chose any particular from the lot.


Q7. Nowadays Photoshop and other digital softwares/means are used for creating some great posters and logos, be it for a film, play, book or a company. What made you take up this art of hand-made posters?

Ekta: I was pretty much convinced with the fact that if I will revive this old  medium again. People will at least take a keen interest to look at it once, but the way people around me have accepted this medium all over again is just overwhelming. I don’t have anything against the digital medium. Rather I myself use the digital medium for the post processing purpose. And I always love Satyajit Ray’s artwork, which has been the biggest influence in my life.

Q8. What do you love most about your work?

Ekta: I love everything about my work, I mean the entire process and the reactions that follow. Script reading sessions, discussions, sleepless nights for executing the ideas, attending rehearsals, curtain calls, all the love, appreciations, criticisms. I enjoy each and everything thoroughly.

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Q9.   Are you comfortable being told what to design?

Ekta: I generally read the synopsis first and I am always keen to listen to the director’s or producer’s idea or what they are exactly looking for. I try to match that with my ideas and finally execute it. But I won’t deny the fact that I don’t like to be ordered thoroughly or just do what the director commands me. If the director is a designer or painter himself, then it’s fine but otherwise designers should be given full liberty to execute their thoughts. I believe in words like teamwork or discussions, rather than command or order.

Q10. Share a priceless moment in your life which is related to designing?

Ekta: Mr. Anupam Kher called me up to see all my art works and he was immensely happy after going through each and every work of mine. He praised a lot about me on Twitter and told that he would also love to work with me soon. That’s of course a priceless moment for me.

anupam kher

Q11. Moving on to your personal life, in this age of crumbling relationships, how do you people manage to held on to each other or stay strong since last 8 years and maintain a balance between both your personal and professional life?

Ekta: Patience, perseverance, forgiveness, dependency are few things which made this relationship so strong. Even we have our share of indifferences and I believe no true relationships are perfectly crafted. I know Arnesh since class I and we started dating since class XI. I think what works mostly for our relationship is that we are more like best friends than lovebirds. He was the one who motivated me to follow my dreams. I consider him to be my biggest support and critic, of course.

Q12. Tell us about your future plans and your upcoming artworks or projects.

Ekta: Expanding my designing house is surely on the priority list. And currently I am working for 3 upcoming plays, 3 short films and in the pipeline there are 4 bengali feature films, 3 events, and designs for North American Bengali Conference.


Q13. Considering the struggles artists face nowadays, what suggestions/ideas/experiences would you like to share with others?

Ekta: The demand of Graphic designing is increasing everyday. It’s a known fact that advertising agencies in Kolkata do not pay you much but it’s okay, one has to struggle to exist with his/her passion. See, young guns have to believe in themselves and take the final call .Freelancing is obviously a good option to earn your bread and butter, but at the end of the day quality, creativity, uniqueness matters. If you have these qualities you are bound to do well in life. Graphic designing is such an innovative field, you just need to have a rock solid guts to turn your passion into profession.

Q14. Any advice you would like to give to the young artists who aim to take up designing professionally?  

Ekta: I always believe there is no substitute for hardwork. So, you just need to Believe in yourself and start experimenting. Keep your designs simple and unique. Patience and innovation are two most important factors one has to keep in mind if you are in this profession. 🙂
mukti final



An Exclusive Chat with Malobika Banerjee,the young talent of Tollywood

From Mr.Funtoosh, Professional to Sada Canvas, Chorabali and now The Best Seller, she has shown a rapid growth in her career graph. In no time, she has proved her acting skills and made her position in the Bengali film industry. In an exclusive chat with iNTEGRiTY Magazine, Malobika Banerjee, the hot rapidly upcoming actress of Bengali movie industry shares her journey in this glamour world of Tollywood.


1. How did you get involved in acting? Did you learn acting?

Malobika: No. I never learnt acting in any school. Actually, I never wanted to be an actress . In 2007, I participated in a beauty pageant titled, Miss Kolkata Sundori and I happened to win the title. This happened at a very young age. Since then my career started.

2. Which was your first film as an actress?

Malobika: My first film was named Mr. Funtoosh. I played Prosenjit Chatterjee’s sister’s role.  My character was the second lead in that film.

3. How was your first experience? Would you like to share anything from your first shot of your life?

Malobika: Oh, yes! It is one of the memorable moments in my life. My first shot was with Bumba Da ( Prosenjit Chatterjee) , the superstar of Bengali Film Industry. I was very nervous but finally pulled it off quite well. The funny part was that in that shooting I had grown an infatuation for him, which he actually understood and very easily managed the situation. 😀

4. Till date you have done so many films, which has been your favourite character that you have performed?

Malobika: All the characters are equally important to me. But yes, in the film Sada Canvas, my character was that of a psycho girl. I had to work really hard to portray myself as a psycho girl on screen. This character is really one of my favourite characters till date.


5. Tell us about a time where you had difficulty turning yourself into a character. What was the character and why was it challenging?

Malobika: I have just finished shooting for a film called ‘Tope‘ directed by  Sri Buddhadeb Dasgupta. In that film, my character is of a documentary filmmaker. Buddha babu strictly instructed me that I have to be a smoker to give that life to my character. And, my biggest problem is I hate smoking, and can’t tolerate the smoke. But for the film I smoked for one week which was really a challenging task for me. But somehow I finally managed to do that.

6. Who is your favourite actor? What motivates you to act?

Malobika: My favourite actors are Amitabh Bachchan and Uttam Kumar. They motivate me a lot. I get inspired from both their personal and professional life. They have taught me many things. I have learnt that failure is nothing but a step forward to success. They have shown it through their careers.


7. Are you working on any current projects?

Malobika: Yes, I’m doing an Oriya film and a Bengali film right now.

8. If not an actor, what profession would you have chosen to occupy?

Malobika: I would have been a MBA or a CEO of any MNC. But, other than being an actress I have passed L.L.B. So, if I get time, I might start practicing law.

9. What have you learnt from your senior actors? Any memorable advice from anyone?

Malobika: I have learnt many things from my senior actors, good and bad both. But, I always try to take the good things.

10. What is your dream role?

Malobika: I am not sure about the dream role, but recently I have watched Tanu weds Manu Returns and I loved Kangana’s acting in that film. If given a chance,  I would like to play Kangana’s character i.e. Tanu from the film Tanu weds Manu Returns.


11. Please share a fun fact about yourself which people might not be aware of.

Malobika: Oh! I’m very scared of cats . I have a cat phobia . I’m serious about it and let me tell you it’s not funny! It’s really scary.

12. Is it a career path that you would recommend?  What advice would you give to someone aspiring to become and actor?

Malobika: Firstly, let me tell you that if someone is patient enough then only one should try for acting. Of course, talent is required but patience is very important. My dear friends if you want to be successful in a very short span of time, then this is surely not the right career for you. In this profession, you must be a warrior by nature who is always ready to fight against all odds. 🙂










Weekend gateways near Kolkata

– By Angana Sengupta

4 days of holiday and yet you don’t know what to do?  Well I have got a solution for you. Why not just start packing your bags and leave for a short holiday and explore the nearby places of Kolkata. So what are you waiting for? Pick up your bags, tie your laces and just leave. Oh! Don’t forget your sun scream though.


If you are addicted to sea and love serenity along with it, then Mandarmani is a must go for you. 5 hours drive from Kolkata; it has emerged as a prominent weekend gateway by tourists who want to escape from the crowded cities. Mandarmani provides complete seclusion which is rare in other beaches near Kolkata like Digha or Puri. The beach is clean and is very idle. The beach resorts are well equipped with modern amenities and serve their guests well. You can enjoy your weekends in the resorts soaking the sun and enjoying the delicious sea food. The main attraction of Mandarmani is the golden beach and the peaceful ambience. The sunrise from the beach is a visual treat.

Biharinath, Bankura

Mud homes, alponas, wild boars, fox, colourful birds, flora and fauna, hill, river, lake- if you want to experience all these in just one trip then book your tickets for Biharinath which is in Bankura district. 249 kilometers from Kolkata, Biharinath can be easily reached by train till Raniganj station and then by car. It is situated between Purulia and River Damodar and is the highest hill in the Bankura district. Covered with thick forest the place offers a natural treat to the eyes. It is a mixture of adventure along with exploring the scenic beauty. The Biharinath hill is ideal for trekking and one can reach the hill top within an hour or two.  You can go for a walk with your loved ones and immerse yourself in the scenic beauty. You can also enjoy boating in the lake situated near the Biharinath Temple. The place also hosts a lot of religious fairs especially during the Shivratri and the Saraswati Puja.


If you want to stay in a dense forest of Sal and teak and spotted deer herds crossing your road every now and then, then Joypur forest is surely your next weekend destination. Joypur forest is a dense forest which extends upto 120 Kms. It has a watch tower through which one can enjoy the scenic beauty and also have a view of the spotty deer named Cheethals. You can stay in Joypur Forest resort which has its own farm, vegetable garden, a huge lake (Jheel) and is equipped with all modern facilities. If you want a complete seclusion from the city life and miss the peace then I am sure Joypur Forest will not dishearten you. It’s a must visit to rejuvenate yourself and gather all the energy for another tough and hectic week.

So what are you waiting for now? Three different places choose one and just leave on an experience of a lifetime. All these three places are cost effective and are worth your time. So give it a shot and do let us know what our experience has been like.

Kolkata Football – It’s When Someone Scores A Goal !

– By Sourav Mukherjee

Wherever one may roam, if they are in India in search of the game, Kolkata is undoubtedly the place to be in irrespective of the other big names that have made their mark in the recent times. No matter what, even if India ranks at 135 in the FIFA World’s list, The Kolkata Derby and its grandeur that is still intact even after so many years since its inception, still holds one of biggest rivalries in the world and could easily be counted as The Clash of The Titans, played between Mohun Bagan and East Bengal.


East Bengal, established in 1920, being the representatives of the eastern region of the undivided Bengal, way before it was eventually named as Bangladesh and being announced as an Islamic republic in 1971, and other the side, being from the west itself, Mohun Bagan, the oldest of perhaps all the clubs in India that have ever played football in the country, established way back in 1889. These two sides make for a match whenever they turn out on the pitch. One might feel the shiver of witnessing history on their toes if they get to be in a packed Yubabharati Krirangan, of over 1 lakh heads getting bisected into Red & Yellow (East Bengal) and Green & Maroon (Mohun Bagan).

Producing numerous superstars of the game in the country, Kolkata never seemed to fall short in being called as the Mecca of Football, though in recent times, cities like Goa, Bengaluru and Mumbai have also joined in the league in producing some great talents who are proving to be the future ambassadors of the game. From Gostho Paul to P.K Banerjee, the likes of Chuni Goswami, Majid Boxer, Jamsid Nasiri, Krishanu Dey, Subrata Bhattacharjee, Subhash Bhowmik, Bhaichung Bhutia and other huge names have been the frontiers of the rich Kolkata footballing culture since its golden era had started a century ago.


Well, not just by the colours as they say, the glorious rivalry between the Mohun Bagan and East Bengal are measured by the choices of food their fans make for themselves as well. King Size Prawn vs. Golden Hilsa, primarily those of River Padma, (located in Bangladesh in present times) are the symbols of the fans who wear their jerseys and turn up to the event. It all go in the cards of history after every single derby takes place in the City of Joy, as people from both the sides never leave an inch apart in disgracing each other by their colours and pride. It seems as though a fight is being fought out of the game, which is much far and above the boundaries of football. More so to the temper at which it grows, days before the game is scheduled. In the end, the side that loses is the side that’s booed until the next match is in contention. The battle just gets tired of in wracking nerves if you’re a Bengali by any chance.

On the whole, as contributors of Indian Football, Kolkata is and shall always be up there where hardly any other state of India could ever match up, as far as the emotions surrounding the game is concerned in this part of the country. May this outburst of ruthless aggression live forever.