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Wednesday, October 28, 2015

Monday, September 28, 2015

* Rhythm Divine Poets hosted 100 Thousand Poets for Change

Rhythm Divine Poets group hosted 100 Thousand Poets for Change (, a global initiative where more than 570 cities around the world hosted poetry meets on a single day. Rhythm Divine Poets hosted the meet in Kolkata at 8th Day Cafe and Bakery. The event comprises of music by the band Kolkata Music Diaries, felicitation of the poets of the month online contest, performance poetry and open mic poetry. Glimpses from the event...

For more visit 100 Thousand Poets Kolkata event blog link:

Wednesday, August 26, 2015

* A Review and a Report!

Read my review of Saikat Majumdar's new novel The Firebird in Being Bookworms

Read my report of the discussion on Avik Chanda's latest novel Anchor in Being Bookworms

Read, vote, rate and comment on my poems at the Delhi Poetry Challenge here -

Friday, July 31, 2015

Wednesday, June 24, 2015

* Rhythm Divine Poets’ St. Joseph’s Home Visit!

On 21st June 2015 (Sunday) a group of poets of Rhythm Divine visited A. J. C. Bose located St. Joseph’s Home. It was a novel experience to be among the elderly and the ailing and share with them poems. Poetry has a therapeutic aspect and this was explored during the visit. The inmates of the home loved the poems recited by the poets and enthusiastically interacted with the poets. Listening to people residing there also gave the visiting poets a new insight into the lives of the elderly living away from their near and dear ones. Sister Anne was kind enough to allow the visiting poets to take a tour of the home and have a look at the facilities. The poets who visited were Amit Shankar Saha, Sufia Khatoon, Anindita Bose, Payal Gupta, Niladri Mahajan and Satabdi. These poets formed a connection with the inmates of the home and were enriched by the experience while reciting their poems.


Thursday, May 14, 2015

* Radio One and JBS (Story)

* An Amazing Experience! Poetry has fascinating powers. It makes people do things unimaginable otherwise. Who would have thought that I would put aside my reservations and inhibitions and be on air one day? Yet, there I was on Friday, 8th May, 2015, at 94.3 FM Radio One Studio live with RJ Arvind on the programme Rhythm Divine - Poets on Air from 1 p.m. to 2 p.m. Encouraged by my fellow poets I let my verses resonate with the vibrations of the air waves caused by retro music of Radio One. Arvind made me feel relaxed during the hour-long programme. Sufia stayed by my side to keep my spirits up. Anindita trained me the previous day to put proper stress on syllables while reciting poems. Ananya advised me to pause and emote. Sharanya goaded me to go. And the best wishes of Chumki, Rahul, Saranya, Sana, Siddharth, Shruti, Radhika, Niladri, Junaid, Sam and other members of Rhythm Divine made my day. I cannot than all of them enough. Even though I may have failed to live up to their expectations, it was a truly amazing experience. Thank you Arvind for gifting me a memorable recitation of Gulzar and a memory to cherish. I am indebted to all who added a new dimension to my life.
RJ Arvind and Me in the 94.3 Radio One Kolkata Studio

Read my short story "Our Lost Friend" in the Journal of Bengali Studies Vol.4 No.1 Summer Issue 2015 on the theme of Bengali Music: Bengalis and Music, Pp. 104-109: 

Monday, April 27, 2015

* Art Fair IV and Incredible Woman!

Legend has it that the Amazonian women showed amazing prowess and did exceptional feats. If such a characteristic is to be found among my friends then it is to be in Sufia Khatoon, the curator of Art Fair IV. But that is too short an introduction for Sufia for she is much more - a poet, a painter, a quilling artist, an anchor, a journalist, and many more. If the prefix “multi” is to find a right home then it has to be in the description of Sufia for she is always multi-tasking and is so multi-talented. Attending the inauguration of Art Fair IV at Chemould Art Gallery in Park Street, I was floored by her organisational skills and pleasing demeanour. From contacting new and upcoming artists and curating their art work to inviting and hosting the guests and making the whole occasion a success, she does everything single handed. The Art Fair is in its fourth season and on from 26th April to 30th April. But that is not all. Each day of the Art Fair is dedicated to other activities too. There are musical performances, poetry adda, photography workshop, quilling workshop, etc.
The inauguration on the 26th of April was a grand affair with eminent guests like film director and theatre personality Ashoke Viswanathan, percussionist and musician Tanmoy Bose and Associate Director and PR Supreeta Singh gracing the occasion. The opening day also included performances by bands like Kolkata Music Diary and members of Urotaar, an NGO which specializes in performing street plays. There was an impromptu poetry session too and the whole joie de vivre of the occasion encapsulated the spirit of art and artist’s expression. Emerging artists like Rahul Mall, Anindita Bose, Vasu Agarwal, Moumita Ghosh and not to forget Sufia Khatoon herself as well as others get to display and market their paintings, photographs and other art works. Sufia’s poetry group Rhythm Divine, which has a close association with Poetry Couture, presents on the 29th of April an open mic poetry adda at 3:30 p.m. at the gallery. Such activities, not only enriches the Art Fair but the association of allied art forms improves the culture of the society as well. In fact this very fact was reiterated by Ashoke Viswanathan in his opening speech.

So here I am wishing Art Fair 4 a resounding success and all the artists a great time. My heartfelt gratitude goes to Sufia for all her activities and hope her creative output overflows. Congratulations dear!

My poem "Incredible Woman" has been published in the Incredible Women of India Blog. Read here:

Friday, March 27, 2015

* Festival of Thoughts: DRS Seminar 2015

Day 1: “Rosebud”

What is a seminar, if not, as Professor Chinmoy Guha said, a festival of thoughts? The UGC Assisted DRS (SAP III Phase III) National Seminar on “Connecting Texts: Literature, Theatre and Cinema” organised by the Department  of English at CSSH Auditorium (Calcutta University, Alipore Campus) from March 23 - 25, 2015. As soon as the seminar was inaugurated by the Pro-Vice-Chancellor, Prof. Dhrubajyoti Chattopadhyay, the Keynote speaker, the enigmatic Dr. Kunal Basu, decided to descend from the high table reserved for the speakers, and came on the floor of the hall to speak. He presented three sets of conjectures - (1) Fiction to film, (2) Fiction as film and (3) Film as fiction. Kunal Basu reminded us of the unforgettable sequence in the movie Citizen Kane, when the eponymous protagonist in his Xanadu pronounced that last word “Rosebud,” which gives a notion of the preciousness of memory. The author of the that magnificent novel, The Miniaturist, where the central character Bizhad brings alive a historical period, said that it is the memory of clues that the author leaves in the text for the readers that has to correspond when there is a transcreation of fiction to film by the director. Basu enumerated five relationships between fiction and film in the said transcreation - (1) Translation (eg. The Birds), (2) Adaptation (eg. Maqbool), (3) Contradiction (eg. Noah), (4) Inspiration (eg. Apocalypse Now) and (5) Empathy (eg. The Japanese Wife). He also pointed out, in the words of Gabriel Garcia Marquez, that the problem with cinema is that it is “a mass creative process.”

Coming to the second conjecture, Basu explained that some literary works are so discursive in nature
Pic Courtesy: Arindam Ghosh
(with interior monologues and stream-of-consciousness techniques) that they can never be made into successful films. Thirdly, while talking about film as fiction, the Professor at Said Business School, Oxford, raised the question that, since the film and the novel both portray the vastness and the depth of the human condition, will there be a time when novels will become obsolete? In the end Kunal Basu expressed how his love for cinema grew when he was a child  actor in Mrinal Sen’s Punascha; how his regret with cinema lay in the fact that Sam Mendes did not thank Michael Ondaatje  when The English Patient won the Oscar; and how his frustration with cinema becomes evident when that medium stifles other arts.

Pic Courtesy: Arindam Ghosh
After Kunal Basu’s enriching presentation it was the turn of the renowned poet and film director, Buddhadeb Dasgupta, who rather polemically said that film and literature are two independent media and despite convergence, one does not subsume the other. That is why he does not choose literary narratives to film upon. Dasgupta, whose movies, like Tahader Katha, Charachar and Uttara, have often been termed by critics as poetic cinema, acknowledged that, unlike Ray, he does not use narratives as much as images in his film-making. As a kid, Dasgupta was taught by his mother of how many things one can do without. He developed the idea further into how many words one can do without when he became a poet and how many shots one can do without when he became an auteur. The director, who often fetches images from memory, dreams and visions for his films, also stressed the importance of cinema and poetry to make better human beings. The third speaker before lunch break was the inimitable Barun Chanda, the protagonist of Ray’s Seemabaddha. He explained how Ray, who knew the language of literature as  well as the language of celluloid, took liberties with Sankar’s text to create a silver screen masterpiece. From the description of Dalhousie’s 5 Council House Street to the haunting refrain (seta bhalo na kharap) in Shyamalendu’s sister-in-law’s voice, Ray creates a master class in cinematic endeavour. Barun Chanda’s talk, interspersed with scenes from the film, was enthralling.
Pic Courtesy: Arghya Tarafder

The lunch break amidst the luminaries was special as it gave me an opportunity to interact with Kunal Basu and get his autograph. In the post-lunch session it was Prof. Madhuja Mukherjee, who traced the trajectory of a tune, from Mozart’s Symphony 40 to Salil Chowdhury’s rendition of it in “Itna na tu mujhse pyar barha” (Film Chhaya) to Tridev’sGali gali mein phirta hai” to A. R. Rahman’s “Jai ho”. In doing so she mentioned the Hungarian rhapsody of Barsaat and Nazia Hasan’s Disco Diwane, the era of gramophones and the era of audio cassettes, the time of radio and the time of technologically-driven digital sound to display the use of music in popular cinema. She was followed by Debasish Deb, who talked about Satyajit Ray as illustrator and the posters Ray made for his own movies. The final speaker of the session was the art critic Manasij Majumdar. He depicted Turner’s painting The Slave Ship, and Rushkin’s description of the same to presage a rich presentation on Art and Literature: An Interface. The last event of the day was the exclusive screening of a new documentary on Mrinal Sen, directed by Nripen Gangopadhyay. The exclusivity was evident in the fact that the documentary has not yet been seen by the veteran film doyen Mrinal Sen himself.
Pic Courtesy: Arindam Ghosh

Day 2: “Chaos”

Pic Courtesy: Arghya Tarafder
If on the first day there was a struggle between the narrative and the abstract, on the second day the seminar transcended to the realm of the conceptual. The first academic session chaired by Prof. Tapati Gupta had Sohini Sengupta, the actor with big eyes, who has essayed roles in films like Paromitar Ekdin and Alik Sukh and in plays like Madhabi and Nachni, narrating about her fascinating journey as a performer but the abstract of which was that how she sees a text as a gift to the actor and the actor’s performance as a gift to the audience. The next speaker, Prof. Duttatreya Dutt of RBU, started by saying that Aristotle was not the father of literary criticism but theatrical criticism. What is read as drama and considered part of literature is merely the transcription of actors’ dialogues. He concluded by saying that drama is something more - the action and reaction of performers as well as other people.

In keeping with conceptual abstraction as the order of the day, the second session, chaired by Prof.
Pic Courtesy: Arghya Tarafder
Krishna Sen, had Prof. Sanjay Mukhopadhyay of JU, talking about Picasso’s Guernica. He showed Resnais and Hessens’ documentary on this, arguably, most famous art work of the 20th century, which captured the pain in the abstract. Later in clippings from films like Ritwick Ghatak’s Komal Gandhar and Meghe Dhaka Tara, Prof. Mukhopadhyay showed how in films the level of representation is transformed to the level of conceptual. He said that this is possible because of the quality of “literariness,” not only of literature but of all art. In the post-lunch session, the chair, Prof. Dipendu Chakraborti, complimented the quality of food being served but warned that it may act as a tranquilliser. The first to speak was Prof. Sudeshna Chakraborty, who spoke on “Drama and Literature through the Eyes of Utpal Dutt.” It was followed by Dr. Sinjini Bandyopadhyay’s perceptive paper on Shaoli Mitra’s Nathabati Anathbat. With readings and audio recordings of the play, she showed how Shaoli Mitra used the character of Draupadi in the kathokatha form to draw a connection between the past and the present. The last speaker of the day was Prof. Nrisingha Prasad Bhaduri. Some may remember him from the 2009 DRS Conference, where he cited examples of ancient Indian Sanskrit writers, who were women. This time he took the idea of the conceptual to depict the origins of drama in Sanskrit. “Natak,” he said, is a mock show and the origin lies in “Nat”, which Panini  describes as a kind of chaos. When Bharatmuni went to Brahma to ask him to conceive something that will be accessible to all, then Natak was born. He said that in Som Yagya’s “mahabrata” there is the necessity of a “natak” between the Yajur-rishis and Nishad, who procures the somlata. When Prof. Bhaduri started speaking about the opening sequence of Kalidasa’s Sakuntala, Prof. Sanjay Mukhopadhyay interrupted him on the pretext that Prof. Guha’s regulation of time-bound sessions did not give him the opportunity to show how the opening scene of Komal Gandhar, which corresponds with the technique used in Sakuntala. The chaos thus created made “natak” a part of this festival of thoughts. The day did not end there but order was restored in the melodious rendition of Tagorean lyrics, which Tagore had set to tune inspired by Upanishad shlokas (Anandaloke), Scottish and Irish folk songs (Auld Lang Syne/ Purano sei diner katha), Carnatic music and Brajabuli (Gahana kusuma kunj majhe) by the duo, Jaya Bandyopadhyaya and Adrija Bandyopadhyaya. It was truly a thrilling day of thoughts.

Day 3: “Matrix”

Pic Courtesy: Ishani Ray
The last day was an invigorating day devoted to student paper presentations. Arindam Ghosh (CU) showed that Samuel Beckett’s screenplay of the movie, interestingly titled, Film, is actually a film about absence. Asijit Dutta (JU) said that in Beckett’s Unnameable there is dilution of language and selfhood, which cannot be framed by the camera. Samudranil Gupta (Presidency) said that Suman Mukhopadhyay’s adaptation of Nabarun Bhatacharya’s three short stories into the film Mahanagar@Kolkata is doubly performative. Sayantina Dutta (CU) showed the visual attainability of R. K. Narayan’s Swami and Friends and Malgudi Days on the screen. Sharanya Dutta (CU), on the other hand, showed how the transcultural adaptation of Great Expectations by Alfonso Cuaron in 1998 transformed a Dickensian classic to a petty Hollywood romance. Swagata Chatterjee’s (CU) paper was on how Ray put the two characters Goopy and Bagha in both social and political context in Hirak Rajar Deshe. Bidhan Mondal (KU) showed how in the movie Cosmic Sex the concepts of “Brahmacharya” and “Devatatta” of the Bauls are used. Rajarshee Gupta (yes, the whisky priest of the Departmental production of The Caucasian Chalk Circle is now a DRS fellow) delved into the archives to tell us how the Jataka story and its versions were transformed by Tagore in his dance drama Shyama.

An interesting incident happened in the session before lunch. Kalyan Ray, the author of Eastwords,
Pic Courtesy: Sayantani Mukherjee
came to the seminar and of all places chose to sit beside me and then he spoke. Therefore, now I can vouch for his baritone voice that many of us have heard most memorably in the movie Antaheen. The post-lunch session started with a paper by Sujan Mondal (JMI) on how Paul Scott’s The Raj Quartet was adapted into the TV serial The Jewel in the Crown and its representative and reproductive significance. Debashis Biswas (CU) spoke on the cinematic adaptation and transcreation of Chitrangada. Adharshila Chatterjee’s (CU) paper was on the politics of bodies in the Hanibal Lecture series and American Psycho. [Prof. Santanu Majumdar, chairing the session, opined that he is partial to this paper as he has always been fascinated with murder and violence.] Pranab Kumar Mandal (CU) raised the question, “Is there an audience in the dark?” to explore the existence of a fourth wall between the stage and the audience in proscenium theatre. Nisarga Bhattacharjee (CU) showed how in the Matrix movie trilogy there are three levels of relatedness. Reshmi Balakrishnan (EFLU) decolonized Pandora’s and Crusoe’s island while Soumik Banerjee (CU) reinterpreted the novel and the film Sabuj Dwiper Raja. The last speaker was Tirthankar Sengupta (yes, remember him from the staging of Pirandello’s Six Characters in Search of An Author) who showed the fluidity of text and context in Brecht’s The Caucasian Chalk Circle in its numerous adaptations.

Pic Courtesy: Arghya Tarafder
At the end of the seminar the DRS Coordinator, Prof. Chinmoy Guha, and Deputy Coordinator, Dr. Sinjini Bandyopadhyay, thanked the guests, speakers, professors, volunteers and all the participants for making this seminar a success. A spontaneous counter thank you went to both of them for the vision to have a festival of thoughts and making it a reality. 

Pic Courtesy: Koyel Halder

And a special thank you goes to the former and the present DRS fellows, Saptarshi Mallick and Rajarshee Gupta, respectively, who exhausted themselves doing the legwork and the overheads that such a seminar demands. 

[All pictures are taken from the public domain of Facebook and used here for non-commercial purpose in good faith. All efforts have been made to give proper credits. If there is any objection then do let me know.]

Tuesday, February 17, 2015

* The 19th Mohini Mohan Bhattacharya Memorial Lecture

The 19th Mohini Mohan Bhattacharya Memorial Lecture was held at Darbhanga Hall (Calcutta University) on 13th February, 2015. The prestigious biennial endowment lecture has had luminaries like Prof. John Drakakis and Prof. Dipesh Chakraborty in recent years as speakers. This year too the lecture was delivered by an eminent personality, Prof. Shirley Chew (Professor Emeritus, Leeds, UK & Visiting Professor, NTU, Singapore). She spoke on the topic “Roots and Routes: Migration Stories Across the Indian Ocean.” Her lecture was divided into two parts: “Mint leaf, teak leaf, and a question of home in Amitav Ghosh’s The Glass Palace” and “‘Just a condition without even a story’- Narrating selves in Abdulrazak Gurnah’s By the Sea.” 

In front of a motley audience comprising of professors, researchers, and students, Prof. Chew spoke on how the Indian ocean trade routes are filled with migrant stories and the likes of Amitav Ghosh have put the Indian perspective to such narratives. Prof. Krishna Sen rightly pointed out that such a discussion inaugurates an alternative postcoloniality - of globalization in the Indian ocean through trade routes. The Indian ocean narratives put focus on a phase of globalization that has been antecedent to the current phase. Prof. Chew also spoke about the importance of storytelling. Through the example of an asylum seeker as a storyteller in front of an immigration officer, Prof. Chew pointed out how a migrant’s condition predisposes him/her to become a storyteller. It is the stories by and about migrants that bring the different phases of globalization - be it the ancient silk route globalization, the colonial Indian ocean globalization or the modern trans air globalization - into comparison. Such comparative study may give a perspective to our understanding of the stakes of migration in diaspora formation. Prof. Chew took as a farewell gift a facsimile of Tagore’s Gitanjali manuscript - a notebook that was lost and found in the London Tube - as truly emblematic of the flux of words in a world of mobility.

Saturday, January 10, 2015

* Decoding the Silence!

My article “J.S. Mill’s The Subjection of Women: The Text in History and Society” published in  De-coding the Silence! Reading John Stuart Mill’s The Subjection of Women. ISBN: 978-93-82630-51-7. Jaipur: Aadi Publications, 2015, Pp. 125-33.
Dr. Amit Shankar Saha's article, "J.S. Mill’s The Subjection of Women: The Text in History and Society” looks at Mill's influences on the long history of women's struggle and gender equality by exploring, analyzing, and examining all of the theories of Mill's arguments and his relationship with Harriet Taylor, whose intellectual abilities were crucial in Mill's writing of the article.  - Dr. Patricia Jabbeh Wesley (Introduction)

Monday, December 8, 2014

* Symposium on Literary Activism!

At the symposium on literary activism it was a curious case of reading with the grain and yet against the prevalent dominant trend. The so-called democratisation of the literary space has brought an end to the pursuit of the aesthetic value of a text in favour of its archival importance as increasingly the literature departments in the academy concentrate on culture studies. Derek Attridge (York) in the inaugural UEA Infosys lecture on “The Critic as Lover” pointed out that the language of celebration generated by the market is a reductive mechanism catering to an anti-intellectual environment. David Graham (Canongate/Granta/Pavilion) too acknowledged the situation and rightly said that in publishing the focus has shifted from the book to the market. But this is noessentially a market phenomenon. The general environment is such that often editors succumb to the threat of legal notices and violence by certain groups who do not understand the nuances in literature. The micro-publishers and independents like Ananda Lal (Writers Workshop India) and Navin Kishore (Seagull) are perhaps stubbornly occupying a niche which the mainstream is nervous to invest in.

Today’s English Departments are places for professionalisation and there is no room for the literary amateur. Saikat Majumdar (Stanford), through the example of the polymath Nirad Chaudhuri, championed the cause of the autodidact amateur in shaping the bildung (culture) of the society. Discrediting literature is divorcing oneself from its civilising influence and creating a world of cultural bureaucracy. And those who are not deemed to be politically correct are forced to live in the ON (out-of-Nation) zone, like the Croatian writer Dubravka Ugresic. She explained her situation as having turned up at a party with the invitation but the dress code is all wrong. Amit Chaudhuri (UEA) in his failed campaign for Arvind Krishna Mehrotra as Oxford Professor of Poetry showed a case of literary activism. Chaudhuri explained that the attempt to establish a non-Eurocentric cosmopolitan poet in Oxford was worth an “adventure” because it at least created a flutter in the literary space which has been marginalised. Another kind of literary activism is through translation, which both UK poet Jamie McKendrick (translating Italian poets) and CNRS’s Laetitia Zecchini (translating Arun Kolatkar) practice. Translating, and that too poetry, becomes a zone of resistance against the market forces and the general climate governed by the hermeneutics of suspicion.

In the discussion on the journal of ideas Jon Cook (UEA) mentioned the part once
played by Scrutiny and Partisan Review in the UK and the US respectively in mediating literary criticism into the public domain. Chinmoy Guha (CU) put into perspective the idea of having a symposium on literary activism in Kolkata, supposedly a society in decline and political chaos, but arguably harbouring a rich tradition of cultural and literary enterprises. In this historical context he related the activity of Bengali journals like Desh, of which he was the literary editor for ten years, and the eventual advent of global forces. Perhaps Benjamin Kunkel’s N+1 and Anjum Hasan’s The Caravan by bringing back syntactical complexity and breaking consensuses play as much a part of literary activism in the global stage as little magazines do at the local level.

It was left to Peter D. McDonald (Oxford) to acknowledge a sort of homecoming at this symposium for English Literature became a subject in the colonies even before it became a curricular discipline in Britain. Speaking in the two voices of the optimistic Don Q and the pessimistic Sancho P, he explicated the demise of traditional literariness where now Shakespeare is studied for scrutiny and no longer as a canonical figure. With reference to Maurice Blanchot’s 1959 essay “What about Criticism?”, he pointed out the role of criticism as an intermediary between journalism and the academy. Swapan Chakraborty (JU) made the pertinent point that one who studies literature does not necessarily write literature but writes about literature unlike certain other disciplines (as in Physics where one studies Physics and writes Physics). Rosinka Chaudhuri (CSSSC) hinted at the relationship between ethics and aesthetics, which is crucial to the polemics of writing and defines the strangeness of the literary.

What  ultimately emerged over the three days was a rather deconstructive view of the literary where the hierarchy of predominant and latent trends were disturbed and a degree of indecisiveness was introduced into the argument. The literary cannot have an autonomous existence irrespective of culture and society but to be of value it needs to have a certain irreverence for the institutions that make culture and society. Literature’s relevance lies in its non-belonging: sui generis for the present and thereby, paradoxically, for all times too.

Thursday, November 13, 2014

Monday, October 27, 2014

* Wordweavers Short Story Shortlisted!

Read my short story "Candy" currently shortlisted in the Wordweavers Short Story Competition 2014 -

And my poem "Behind the Curtain" is also shortlisted in the Poetry category.

Tuesday, September 30, 2014

Thursday, August 21, 2014

* The Leaky Pot - Winner!

My short story "He Stooped but not to Conquer" is the winner of "Stranger Than Fiction-The Leaky Pot Short Story Competition." Read the story here:

Monday, July 28, 2014

* After Bashabi Fraser's Lecture!

After Bashabi Fraser’s Lecture
The lecture’s over, the embers remain:
Echoes of the Ganga remain,
Remain the echoes of the Tay-
An hour freed from the prose of life,
Dedicated to poetry,
In a world of Ukraines and Palestines.
Words fill the rivulets of ideas
While seeking forms to flow into:
The dynamics of arrivals,
And the stasis of absences,
Chaotic and homebound, like boys
Distributing at the mouth of the school,
The mind resounds the words from its replenished store
In tune with Kathak and Holi on Scottish shore.
Thank you Saptarshi Mallick for inviting me to Prof. Bashabi Fraser's lecture at St. Xavier's Hall on 21st July, 2014.

Thursday, June 26, 2014

* Hurrah!

Applying for Fulbright-Nehru Postdoctoral Research Fellowship on South Asian American Literature.
Prof. Rajini Srikanth has agreed to mentor me in my postdoctoral work at UMass Boston if I get the grant. 

Wednesday, May 21, 2014

* Diaspora, Migration and Literature (CU and SUNY)

This year I have been assisting and participating in an online class (via Email, Facebook, Skype and Blog) on Diaspora Literature conducted jointly by the English Departments of Calcutta University, Kolkata, India and State University of New York, Oswego, USA.  Read my post "Bias Against Humanities in Diasporic Indian Families" in the our blog Diaspora, Migration and Literature at

Wednesday, April 30, 2014

* Estrade Magazine & JNU Viva

My short story "Coming Back / Going Back" is published in the Diaspora issue of Estrade Magazine (Volume 2, Issue 1, March 2014).

Dr. Santanu Majumdar conducted PhD Viva of Sakshi Chanana at JNU. Here are a couple of glimpses from that event:

Sunday, March 30, 2014

* Cha: An Asian Literary Journal

My poem "Aphasia" is one of the highly commended poems of "Void" Poetry Contest and is published in Cha: An Asian Literary Journal's Sixth Anniversary Issue (Issue 23, March 2014). 

Here is the link to my poem:

Saturday, February 22, 2014

* Film-making!

I attended a Documentary film-making workshop organized by British Council in association with Satyajit Ray Film and Television Institute and this is the two-minute documentary I along with my team members, Hoimashree, Shahnawaz and Rohan made on the theme "Character". Watch it!

Here is the link to all the films made during the workshop:  

Thank you Anand Gandhi and Recyclewala Films for sending me a signed DVD set of Ship of Theseus.
Is it the same ship? My answer: As far as there is continuity of consciousness there is continuity of identity. From Locke's memory criterion to Parfit's successive selves, it is the continuity of consciousness that seems to define identity. The planks of Theseus's ship are gradually removed but not all at once, so there is a continuity of identity. More so if human beings are involved as they have consciousness. Then it becomes a matter of mental acceptance just as there is a need of bodily acceptance of a foreign implant. Once such acceptance is achieved, despite structural and functional divergence, identity is maintained. So the ship is the same otherwise every moment it is a new ship for every moment something changes. Just like a river whose water changes constantly but it remains the same river.

Sunday, January 5, 2014

* At the launch of Pegasus volume on Reading and Writing Difference & Pravasi Bharatiya Divas Special in Diplomatist

The formal book release of Pegasus volume on Reading and Writing Difference: Gender and Literature (Ed. Sanjukta Das, ISBN 9789380542560, Kolkata: Monfakira, 2013, Rs. 150) took place on 4th January, 2014, at Bhawanipur Education Society. Pegasus ( and especially its steering head Prof. Salil Biswas have been striving for the last thirteen years in producing volumes on research work of academic merit in the form of journals and books. This latest volume consists of excellent research articles by academicians as well as Sanjukta Das's review article of the book Media, Gender and Popular Culture (co-authored by Sanjukta Dasgupta, Sudeshna Chakraborty and Dipankar Sinha). The Pegasus volume was launched by Dr. Paromita Chakravarti, Director of School of Women’s Studies, Jadavpur University. She also spoke on “Gender and Politics” delineating the history of women’s movement from the time of Mary Wollstonecraft to the modern feminism of today. She showed how issues of class, caste, race, economy, and other categories of double marginalization fracture the binary of gender difference. More so in the current consideration of issues of sexuality, gender is seen as a spectrum rather than being constricted by definition in terms of difference.

This lecture was followed by a group discussion on “Gender and Literature” by the panelists comprising young researchers Jashomati Ghose, Sanghita Sanyal, Swaty Mitra and Gargi Talapatra. They spoke variously on representation of gender in fairy tales, women’s writing in England, the coloured women’s literature in the US and gender representations in Indian literature. The audience enthusiastically participated in the discussion especially on the issue of representation of Little Red Riding Hood, which underwent transformation from an oral erotic tale of how the girl seduced the wolf and escaped to a Victorian tale of being rescued by a male hunter. One member of the audience pointed out that in a retelling of the tale in the TV series “Once Upon a Time” it is the girl who is transformed into the wolf. There was heated debate on  whether the whole oeuvre of fairy tales should be rewritten to make them gender sensitive and suitably consumable for the children of the new generation. Dr. Chakravarti intervened to say that instead of rewriting fairy tales in an age where all sorts of information is freely available it is advisable that children should be taught to read correctly. Sensitivity has to be inculcated rather than censorship imposed.

Dr. Chakravarti had earlier narrated an anecdote about the 2006 Autonomous Women's Conference where malejournalists were banned from entering because it was a women-only event. But interestingly the labouring class who worked to put up the event were all males. She pointed out that the underprivileged male workers were somehow not seen in terms of their masculinity whereas the male journalists were not treated similarly because of their privileged status. Then there was the issue of LGBTs. There was the question of whom to include - whether those who are biologically male by feel psychologically female or those who are biologically female but feel psychologically male. She then legitimately raised the perplexing question - Who is the subject of the discipline of “gender” or just who is a “woman”?

This situation made me think of a discussion I once had in Calcutta University with some fellow researchers on whether those Dalits who belong to the creamy layer and have attained economic and social status need the privilege of positive discrimination. Then came the question of Dalit consciousness. All subalterns who have passed through years of discrimination inherit this consciousness which often may not seem apparent. Gender consciousness may not be apparent when a privileged-class woman is in front of a poor male stall owner on the street. But it will be apparent if it is the middle of the night and the street is abandoned. It becomes an issue of power and not necessarily of strength but a consciousness of dominance and marginalization. So to answer the question “Who is a woman?” we just have to take two individuals from the gender spectrum and whoever is potentially the vulnerable of the pair in a given situation is the representative woman and the right subject of the discipline of gender.

Read my article "The Indian Diasporic Creative: Literature to Music" in the January 2014 issue (volume 2 issue 1) of Diplomatist magazine released on the occasion of the twelfth edition of Pravasi Bharatiya Divas in New Delhi, 7th-9th January, 2014. 

Sunday, December 1, 2013

* Prof. Deirdre Coleman's Visit and Amita Dutt's Kathak!

Prof. Deirdre Coleman, Robert Wallace Chair of English and Deputy Dean of the Faculty of Arts, School of Culture and Communication, The University of Melbourne, visited the English Department of Calcutta University on 25th-26th November, 2013. She delivered the lecture titled "Keats, India and the Vale of Soulmaking" and interacted with the faculty and researchers to explore avenues of collaboration between the universities of Melbourne and Calcutta. She informed the researchers about the availability of scholarships for study in Australia. She also released the latest books of Dr. Santanu Majumdar, Sumita Naskar and Satyabrata Dinda published by Dasgupta and Sons.

Prof. Coleman with Dr. Majumdar

Visit (The Statesman, Kolkata, Arts Supplement - "Kathak repertoire at its best") for Tapati Chowdhurie's review of Amita Dutt & Troupe's riveting performance of DURGA at Derozio Hall on 24th November, 2013.

Saturday, November 16, 2013

* Countering a Biased and Hostile Book Review!

In the November 2013 issue of the Bulletin of the Ramakrishna Mission Institute of Culture (ISSN 09712755, Vol. LXIV, No. 11) I read a review of Dr. Santanu Majumdar’s book titled Dazzled by a Thousand Suns: The Impact of Western Philosophy on Indian Interpretations of The Gita. The reviewer, Swarup Puri, takes a biased view and a rather hostile tone towards the book. The reviewer starts by saying that this book is “neither a monograph on religion nor Indian philosophy” but the author does not claim it to be so. The monograph is on a specific and narrow area of research as defined by the title. The reviewer writes that the author has used “incoherent quotations and excerpts from different writings”, which raises the question whether the quotations and excerpts are themselves incoherent or are used incoherently. Then the reviewer goes on to claim that the author is trying to attribute that the “dazzling sun” is Occidental wisdom, whereas on the contrary, the author explicitly states in the book that the title is taken Chapter 11 of The Gita, where Krishna favours Arjuna with “biswaroop darshan”and it is more than apparent what the dazzling sun represents.

It seems that the reviewer has read a very different book than what I have read or if the same book then perhaps with a sinister motive. Moreover, he reads selectively. For example, he reads in the book that Western education opened the eyes of the Indian students but he does not read in that same book that sometimes Western education was beguiling and misleading. The title of the review, “Playing a colonial tune”, is ironical since the reviewer seems to suggest that instead of taking balanced view the author should have taken a prejudiced view against Western philosophy and thereby promote “colonialism” in the reverse. There is no justification that, since many colonial writers were biased against Indian texts, Indian writers should be biased against Western texts especially when the era of decolonisation and revanchism is over.

The reviewer states that the author “bravely puts forward a thesis that Swami Vivekananda was a ‘proselytizing missionary’ and a ‘ferocious propagandist of Hinduism’ (p. 65)”, which seems to suggest pejorative connotations to the words “proselytizing” and “propagandist” in the given context. Whereas when we read the full sentence from where these excerpts are taken then if appears just the opposite: "Disciple of the saint Ramakrishna, proselytizing missionary and founder of the Ramakrishna Mission, a fierce and perhaps even ferocious propagandist of Hinduism abroad, especially in the United States, where he took the Parliament of Religions in Chicago by storm in 1893, Vivekananda shows with the most ancient and most important Indian commentator of The Gita, Shankara, a genius for organization and founding of religious orders" (p. 65). This is how the reviewer has interpreted positive words into negative meanings by being selective and biased. It is perhaps his inferiority complex that he thinks that Swami Vivekananda’s co-religionists have to be apologetic about him being a Hindu missionary and hide the fact about this part of his life and work. I wonder now whose mind is beset with colonial hangover!

The reviewer also says that there is no distinction between interpretation and commentary in Indian philosophy and the author makes unnecessary fuss about it. The author states that the distinction is not about being profound or shallow but rather that the interpreter sees the text as a philosophical document and the commentator sees it as a religious document i.e. God’s words to man. It is in this sense only that Shankara, Ramanuja, Madhva and Sridhar Swami are categorized as commentators and Bankim Chandra, Sri Aurobindo, Gandhi, Tagore, Tilak, Swami Vivekananda and Radhakrishnan are categorized as interpreters. But the reviewer takes affront at this categorization according to approach and go on to say that the author’s understanding of The Gita and Indian thinkers is poor and the monograph is just an intellectual exercise without genuine desire to appreciate the importance of our great thinkers. If the reviewer was looking for a discussion on the impact of Indian philosophy on Indian interpretations of The Gita  in a book with the given title then he was certainly looking in the wrong place. Or perhaps no one cared to explain the title of the book to him.