Kahaani: a story in Kolkata

Kahaani film poster Vidya BalanI really enjoyed watching Kahaani (lit: story) recently, but two of the things that gave me the greatest pleasure about this Bollywood film were its setting for a short restaurant scene and the way the Bengali language was woven into the film’s plot.

There was much to recommend it beyond that, as it was also a great, a-typical, Bollywood film, with no dance scenes and little use of music. (Not, I hasten to add, that I think Bollywood films have to be a-typical or – heaven forbid, music-less – in order to be great).

The film also made great use of Kolkata as a backdrop – though admittedly I am always on the lookout for Kolkata on film, and it rarely makes it to glossy Bollywood films. Continue reading

Memrise and learning Bengali/bangla

20140112-115048.jpg Lately I’ve been finding myself repeating such phrases as ‘how strange to have odd boots’ or ‘a beloved is adored’.

It’s not because I’ve taken to spouting nonsense (no more than usual at least), instead they’re part of a series of memes – learning aids – that I’ve been compiling on Memrise.

The online learning site is the latest tool I’ve been using to help me learn Bengali/bangla and so far it’s proving to be really useful. Continue reading

2013 in review for this blog

The WordPress stats helper monkeys have been busy preparing automated reports on how blogs high and low fared in 2013.

Here’s an excerpt their annual report for A Tangle Of Wires: Continue reading

Learning Bengali (bangla) on Facebook

learning Bengali - bangla Facebook

I’ve been meaning to post about the Let’s Learn Bengali group on Facebook for a while. (For how long? Quite a while.)

The first of the groups (there are actually three that fall within Let’s Learn Bengali) began over a year ago and has proved to be a very useful, informative and supportive community for those wanting to learn Bengali/bangla. Continue reading

So as today, the rest of the year

Goodreads reading challenge 2013

So close. Again. For the second year in a row I’ve missed my Goodreads reading challenge, but at least 2013 saw me come within spitting distance of it, gaining ground in the last months of the year only to find it wasn’t enough. Continue reading

লমবা ছুতি – long holiday

The National Maritime Museum, Greenwich, UK

The National Maritime Museum, Greenwich, UK

তোমার লম্বা ছুটি আছে? (tomar lōmba chuti ache?) my father-in-law asked me on Boxing Day.

The expression লম্বা ছুটি was new to me and one he explained was a Bengali colloquialism for a ‘long holiday’. Continue reading

Channel 4 rounds off autumn Bollywood season with Lata-Pakeezah double-bill

Pakeezah (1972) film posterAnd so Channel 4′s autumn season of Indian films will shortly come to end, but it does so in style with a double-bill combining a documentary on legendary playback singer Lata Mangeshkar and a rare showing of the 1972 film Pakeezah.

Lata In Her Own Voice sees the singer, whose voice has appeared in films for more than six decades, talk about her life and work. (Trivia fans: this version of the documentary is distilled from a six-part series of the same name, originally shown on Channel 4 in 1990.)

Following straight on from the documentary will be a showing of the Meena Kumari starring Pakeezah. The film features Kumari as both a courtesan/ dancer rejected by her lover’s traditional family and then also her duaghter. Continue reading