Sunday October 22, 2017

‘Kadambari’ best film at Washington South Asian Film Festival

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Washington: ‘Kadambari’, a Bengali film centred around Kadambari Devi, sister-in-law of Rabindranath Tagore with whom he is supposed to have had a close, personal relationship and who eventually committed suicide, won the Best Film award at the 4th Washington, DC, South Asian Film Festival.

The film was directed by the National Award-winning filmmaker Suman Ghosh.

Chaitanya Tamhane won the Best Director award for ‘Court’, a Hindi and Marathi film, which is India’s official entry to the upcoming Academy Awards.

Some of the biggest and most famous names in South Asian independent cinema lent glitter to the September 25-27 festival of alternative cinema screening 14 features, 10 short films and one documentary from from India, Pakistan, the US and Canada.

Award winners: Best Film – Kadambari, Best Story – Rough Book, Best Director – Chaitanya Tamhane (Court), Best Actor – Kishor Kadam (Partu), Best Actress – Konkona Sen Sharma (Kadambari), and Best Short Film –Bonjour ji.

The audience rated ‘Partu‘ as the Best Film and ‘Billu’s Flight’ as the Best Short Film.

Aparna Sen received the Special Achievement Award, while Huma Beg from Pakistan (Veils and Walls) got the Special Appreciation Award Documentary.

Sarmad Khoosat received the Special Award for Contribution to Pakistan TV and Films.

A number of directors, including Sen and Ghosh, attended the festival. Another notable presence was popular Bollywood and Bengali actress Riya Sen.

Indian American entrepreneur and philanthropist Frank Islam inaugurated the festival saying this year’s theme, ‘Art and culture transcend boundaries’ reflects a reality.

“This is so even though we live in a deeply divided world. These are unsettling times-wars, refugees, terrorism, hate crimes of all types, and boundary disputes. Events such as these dominate the headlines daily,” he said.

“Yet, art and culture elevate and unite all of us. Whether it is a young boy in Afghanistan, or an old woman in Zimbabwe, there is not a soul that doesn’t enjoy a good movie, or a lovely piece of music.”

“The fact that we have with us today some of the finest collection of talents from India and Pakistan under one roof is proof that art and culture indeed transcend all the boundaries.”

Marketing is a big challenge for indie films as well, he said facing what he called the “curse of Bollywood” – extravagant, studio-backed and star-studded films from Bollywood.

In order to succeed, indie films from India, in their quiet way, must overcome this stereotype and sea of noise, Islam said.

“This year there was more awareness about the film festival here in the US and in South Asian countries,” said DCSAFF Executive Director Manoj Singh noting more non-South Asians came to see the movies.

Saari Raat’, Sen’s film adaptation of Bengali playwright Badal Sircar’s drama, was the opening film.

There were three films from South Asian Americans: ‘Partu‘, a film by Nitin Adsul; ‘Miss India America’ by Ravi Kapoor; and ‘For Here or To Go’ by Rucha Humnabadkar.

The festival also featured two Pakistani films, ‘Manto’ and ‘Shah’ based on the lives of short-story writer Sadat Hassan Manto and Pakistani boxer Hussain Shah, who won the bronze medal at 1988 Summer Olympics.

Islam and his wife Debbie Driesman also hosted a dinner for the visiting artists at their home Norton Manor.

Promoting art and culture is one of the missions of the Frank Islam and Debbie Driesman Foundation.

(By Arun Kumar, IANS)

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Different Versions of India’s National Song ‘Vande Mataram’ over the past 140 Years of its History

Shri Aurobindo had translated Vande Mataram to English in 1909

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National Song of India
Vande Mataram. Wikimedia
  • ‘Vande Mataram’ is the National Song of India written by Bankim Chandra Chattopadhyay
  • The song was published in 1876 in a mix of Bengali and Sanskrit words
  • Vande Mataram was also a slogan for the freedom fighters of the nation

August 19, 2017: It was in 1876 that Bankim Chandra Chattopadhyay wrote Sanskrit and Bengali mixed verses of Vande Mataram, the national song of India. However, it was originally written in Bengali as ‘Bande Matara’ a few years before it published.

The most famous rendition of the National Song was carried out at an Indian National Congress meeting by Rabindranath Tagore in 1896.

ALSO READ: Bankim Chandra Chatterjee: Remembering the voice who gave India ‘Vande Mataram’

Vande Mataram as a phrase was also of common usage among the freedom fighters during the struggle for independence from the British rule.

The song has been used in the pop culture and Bollywood in a variety of ways. In 1952, Lata Mangeshkar covered the song on Hemant Kumar’s tune for the movie Anand Math. Later in 1998, Lata Mangeshkar did her over version which had added stanzas of Hindi but the tune remained the same.

Manna Dey’s version came out in 1951 and AR Rehman’s version of the song came out in 1997 as Maa Tujhe Salaam. The most recent, in 2012, Sonu Nigam along with Sunidhi Chauhan did a version featuring famous percussionist Bickram Ghosh.

In poetry as well, different ragas have been used to express the national song.

The father of the nation, Mahatma Gandhi, favored Pandit VD Paluskar’s composition. Paluskar himself was known for singing the song in Congress meetings. Interestingly enough, he was once intercepted by Maulana Ahmed Ali’s objection at the Kakinada Convention in 1933.

The Congress decided to use the song’s first two stanzas while excluding the other half which is about Hindu goddesses. These two stanzas were sung at the All India Radio on 15th August 1947 by Pandit Omkarnath Thakur.

Tagore’s version in 1896 was a slower one. A gramophone record of 1904 which is now available online was released with Tagore’s voice.

Shri Aurobindo had translated Vande Mataram to English in 1909.

Vande Mataram, in its over 140 years of history, has come under a lot of allegations. Starting with the origination, Vande Mataram faces challenges as it comes from Chattopadhyay’s novel Anandamath in which the enemy was identified as the Muslim ruling class. Additionally, the invocation of Hindu goddesses in later stanzas was questioned as well.

However, the song still managed to become India’s national song with Jana Gana Mana being the national anthem.

The Indian National Army (INA) had composed a Hindi version of Jana Gana Mana to replace their anthem for Provisional Government for Free India in Singapore, which was Vande Mataram.

Objections to Vande Mataram were first aired publicly in 1933. At the time, Vande Mataram was sung along Saare Jahan Se Acha by poet Allama Iqbal. Iqbal had written this song in 1904 and had initially titled it as Tarana-e-Hind. But within two years, drastic changes took place. Iqbal became an advocate for the two nation theory and demanded a separate Pakistan. He also changed the title of the song to Tarana-e-Milli.

– Prepared by Saksham Narula of NewsGram. Twitter: @Saksham2394


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West Bengal Celebrates 156th Birth Anniversary of Rabindranath Tagore

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Rabindranath Tagore, Wikimedia

New Delhi, May 7, 2017: 

“I slept and dreamt that life was joy. I awoke and saw that life was service. I acted and behold, service was joy.”- Rabindranath Tagore 

Rabindranath Tagore (1861-1941 C.E.) was a Bengali polymath who rejuvenated Bengali literature and music, as well as Indian art with contextual modernism. According to English calendar, he was born on 7th May 1861.

He was the youngest son of Debendranath Tagore, who was a leader of the Brahmo Samaj, which was a new religious sect in nineteenth-century Bengal and which endeavoured a revival of the absolute monistic basis of Hinduism as laid down in the Upanishads.

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He was home-schooled; and although at seventeen he was dispatched to England for formal schooling, he did not complete his studies there. In his mature years, in addition to his many-sided literary activities, he looked after the family estates, a project which brought him into close touch with common humanity, grassroots which dragged him to social reforms. He also established an experimental school at Shantiniketan where he tried his Upanishadic ideals of education.

Tagore had early success as a writer in his native Bengal. With his translations of some of his poems, he became rapidly known in the West. His famous works are Gitanjali [1913], Saddhana, The Realisation of Life (1916)The Crescent Moon (1913)Fruit-Gathering (1916)Stray Birds (1916)The Home and the World (1915)Thought Relics (1921).

According to Bengali calendar, he was born on 25th day of Boishakh month, in 1422 Bengali Epoch. His anniversary is observed as per local Bengali calendar. The day of Boishakh 25th currently overlaps with either 8th May or 9th May on Gregorian calendar. However, in other states, Rabindranath Tagore Jayanti is observed as per Gregorian calendar on 7th May. In Kolkata, Tagore Jayanti is popularly known as Poncheeshe Boishakh.

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Rabindra Jayanti is an annually celebrated cultural festival, existent among Bengalis around the world, in the reminiscence of Rabindranath Tagore’s birthday anniversary. It is celebrated in early May, on the 25th day of the Bengali month of Boishakh.

Every year, many cultural programmes & events, such as : Kabipranam – the songs (Rabindra Sangeet), poetries, dances and dramas, written and composed by Tagore, are organised in this particular day, by a lot of schools, colleges & universities of Bengal, and also celebrated by different groups abroad, as a tribute to Tagore and his works.

Tagore’s birth anniversary is largely celebrated at Santiniketan, Birbhum in West Bengal, chiefly in Visva-Bharati University, the institution founded by Tagore himself with a vision of the cultural, social and educational upliftment of the students as well as the society. The Government of India Issued 5 Rupees coin in 2011 to mark the 150 Birth Anniversary in the honour of Rabindranath Tagore.

– by Sabhyata Badhwar. Twitter: @SabbyDarkhorse

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Seattle in US to bring one of the Rabindranath Tagore’s finest compositions to the public

The lyrical saga has been directed by Moumita Bhattacharya and produced by Nitya Gupta

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Seattle, March 15, 2017: A century after Rabindranath Tagores visit to Seattle in 1916, a South Asian Arts Organisation based in the Washington State area of the US, is bringing one of Tagores finest compositions to the public.

Pratidhwani, a non-profit driven to create and promote performing opportunities for arts and artists of South Asia, has just announced its 10th flagship dance show, “Chitrangada”. It’s the story of a warrior princess from the ancient Hindu epic “Mahabharata” that Tagore retold as a dance drama in 1892.

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Tagore is India’s first Nobel Laureate as well as the first non-European to win the prize in Literature. “Chitrangada,” one of his finest compositions, is a lyrical saga of one woman’s quest for love, courage, and the true meaning of beauty. This tribute to the myriad facets of femininity make it as relevant today as it was centuries ago.

Comprising of a group of professionals who have full-time careers and dedicate their late evenings to creating art, Pratidhwani is committed to bringing South Asian performing arts and artists to audiences in the greater Seattle area since 2001.

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The lyrical saga has been directed by Moumita Bhattacharya and produced by Nitya Gupta.

“Chitrangada is a lyrical expression on gender stereotypes. And yet, it is a story of love. Of the ability of love to transform and the fact that love needs to embrace and support a person’s raison d’être. This piece of art is a showcase of multiple music genres, dance forms, and costume styles of the Indian subcontinent,” said Bhattacharya.

It will be performed in The Allen Theatre at ACT, 700 Union Street, in downtown Seattle. The production opens on April 28 and runs through May 20. (IANS)