The Bengal Culturati will host programmes and cultural events comprising various genres of songs, dances and elocution besides art-exhibitions, plays, dramas, curated-shows, film-screenings, regional-festivals, folk-festivals, food-festivals, lectures, talks, seminars and workshops.
Cultural discussions, often turning into heated debates have been staple in the archetypal Bengali “Adda” (we are not even counting the raging colloquiums on political and social issues). For the uninitiated, the Bengali Adda is loosely defined as a “form of intellectual exchange among members” and has especially been popular among youths belonging to the so-called “middle-class intelligentsia” and also the middle-aged.
An Adda can spring up anywhere a few thinking minds meet – the local club, the “rock adda” of the “parra” (colony), the Coffee House, the living room, the neighbourhood park, the University campus, an after work gathering at the office food court, or anywhere. To put it simply, Adda is an essential part of the Bengali’s social life and intellectual health but unfortunately this social art has somewhere become lost in the modern day tech-governed and stressed out lifestyles.
In a bid to revive this “lost art” of the Bengali Adda, and also to make it a forum to blend cultures, old and new, the Kolkata-based Pankaj Mullick Music and Art Foundation and Sensorium – Archiving Popular Culture are joining forces to launch a unique cultural initiative which will present a wide variety of programmes and events that will not only entertain but also educate.
Called the Bengal Culturati, the new Forum, to be launched June 28, Saturday at the Weaver’s Studio, in Ballygunge, will organize programmes and cultural events that will revive interest in the rich but now forgotten works by our greatest artists and writers. The spotlight will be on various genres of songs, dances and elocution besides art-exhibitions, plays, dramas, curated-shows, film-screenings, regional-festivals, folk-festivals, food-festivals, lectures, talks, seminars and workshops. The featured performers, artists and guests will often include regionally and nationally renowned personalities.
The trio of Rajib Gupta, Sounak Chacraverti and Jhinuk Gupta are behind the conceptualization and execution of the programmes while the events will be presented by Sounak Chacraverti of Sensorium.
Asked what gave them the idea to set up this cultural forum that would hark back to the golden age of music, literature and arts, Rajib Gupta told Learning and Creativity, “The genesis of the forum has its roots in the cultural-vacuum that has been created over the past few years when all things traditional have been consigned to the flames in the name of modernization. Barring a few outstanding instances, most propagators of modernity have taken refuge under the obscure terms of global-culture, fusion and crossing-boundaries. The cultural forum that we are set to launch does not simply hark back to the traditional genres of music, literature and arts. Instead the forum aims to create a bridge between our cultural heritage and our present cultural scenario. We at Bengal Culturati believe in the fact that a tree can grow only if its roots are strong. The basic elements that define modernity are technology, speed and accessibility. Through our efforts, we intend to adapt traditional cultural elements for the modern age by attributing them with these factors.”
The inaugural event, celebrating our rich folk traditions, will include a presentation of traditional and modern urban folk songs and poems, in Bengali & Hindi by Jhinuk Gupta and Rajib Gupta, who is also the grandson of the legendary singer-composer Pankaj Mullick. Some of the songs that will be sung during the programme, will have tunes by Pankaj Mullick for which he in turn was honoured with National Awards. Eminent painter Shuvaprasanna will inaugurate the event.
Each Patron of the Bengal Culturati, along with one guest, will be guaranteed free access to a minimum of 8 high-class programmes per year, as well as substantial discounts on ticketed-shows or events organized by the Club.
The Bengal Culturati is aimed at any and everyone who loves, appreciates, understands and is willing to know more about the gems of our literary and cultural heritage. “We shall consider ourselves successful only if we able to cut across barriers such as age, class, community and language. We are undoubtedly optimistic, simply because our range is so diverse. We shall cover music, art, literature, drama, food, handicrafts among a host of other things,” emphasizes Rajib Gupta.
The biggest challenge for the Bengal Culturati is to make this revival of the literary and cultural gems engaging to the young generation who are not much acquainted with these works. Agrees Rajib, “Reaching out to the younger generation is our biggest challenge – something we intend to address right from the beginning. Getting our message across lies in the kind of communication we can generate. As a potent tool for communication, we have thought of various workshops, where the young will be initiated into the world of true culture, where the old and the new co-exist side-by-side. Where traditions do not clash with modernity but complement each other. We hope to show them how culture has evolved over time and how technology has simply quickened the pace of change. The initial response has been pretty good as quite a few young people have already become members of the forum.”
Following the inauguration, the next event ‘Hashir Itikatha’, slated for July 19, will focus on elocution and readings of humorous writings, satires and farces. Special focus will be given to the multi-faceted Banaphul, to celebrate the renowned writer’s 115th birth anniversary. The presentations will be in Bengali and English and will feature renowned elocutionists and/or actors of Kolkata. Renowned writer Nabaneeta Dev Sen will be the Guest of honor.
‘The Bards Of East And West’, a presentation of oratorios, readings and songs connecting Rabindranath Tagore and Lalan Fakir to William Shakespeare, is scheduled for August 9.
— Learning&Creativity (@LearnNCreate) June 30, 2014
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