Tag Archives: Kolkata

India on Film: Calcutta, West Bengal and other treasures from the BFI’s National Archives

Calcutta Kolkata trams BFI India on Film

I’m often amazed by the cultural riches that casually appear online for our use and enjoyment – Open Culture being an excellent contributor and curator to this trend.

Another is the British Film Institute (BFI), whose National Archives recently released a collection of newly-digitised films from India from the turn of the 20th century to partition. Continue reading

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

In five or six years I’m really going to miss Music World

Visiting Kolkata every five or six years I have a handful of places that I’ll always make time to seek out.

It’s not a long list. Mocambo for food, Flurry’s for cakes or pastries, Oxford Bookstore for … well … books, and Music World.

So it was with sadness that I learnt this week that the wasting away of the high street music shop is not confined to the West and that Music World will shortly close (HT: Beth Loves Bollywood). Continue reading

Bengali signs

Kolkata busKolkata busKolkata busWriters Building, KolkataKolkata bankBengali sign
DSC_0651DSC_0647DSC_0631DSC_0627Bengali sign

Bengali signs, a set on Flickr.

I read Bengali really, really slowly (which doesn’t bode well for the Feluda book I bought in Kolkata over Christmas).

Nevertheless, for me there’s a real thrill in being able to decipher the script as it appears on the sides of buses, on shop signs* or those prohibiting something or other.

* Even if many of these are straight transliterations from the way they’re written in English.