‘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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Culture Builds Bridges, Not Walls: Shashi Tharoor

Renowned author Shashi Tharoor said that culture builds bridges, not walls.

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Shashi Tharoor
Shashi Tharoor believes Culture Builds Bridges, Not Walls. Pixabay

By Siddhi Jain

A strong believer of the uniting power of the arts and culture, parliamentarian and renowned author Shashi Tharoor has said that culture builds bridges, not walls.

Having recently lent his voice to a short music video that features an emotional rendition of the Indian National Anthem, Tharoor is strong in his recital of another of Rabindranath Tagore works, “Where The Mind Is Without Fear” which appears towards the end. The anthem has been sung by playwright and Tagore fusion singer Isheeta Ganguly.

According to Tharoor, “our minds are currently gripped by fear of the unknown, of possible attack by the virus; fear has led to the demonisation of certain of our own citizens, either because of their appearance or their religion. The Tagore verse speaks of India transcending such fears and narrow divisions to a broader self-realisation.”

tagore
He recently lent his voice in a version of national anthem written by Rabindranath Tagore. Tharoor also recites other works of Tagore. Wikimedia

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Asked how the arts and culture act as unifying forces in difficult times, Tharoor told IANSlife: “Arts and culture build bridges, not walls. They help us to realise what unites us rather than divides us. They expand our minds beyond petty concerns to larger aspirations. Great art is always universal; it does not discriminate or demonize.”

Tharoor also underlined the need to utilise the nation’s symbols – like the National Anthem – to unite in. “It’s important to remind everyone that India, indeed, belongs to everyone,” he said. (IANS)

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COVID-19: Shashi Tharoor, Isheeta Ganguly Perform National Anthem

The music video was launched on friday

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national anthem
Shashi Tharoor along with Isheeta Ganguly reimagined the national anthem. Wikimedia Commons

By Siddhi Jain

A heartfelt rendition of India’s National Anthem ‘Jana Gana Mana’, featuring the voices of Lok Sabha member Shashi Tharoor and Tagore fusion singer Isheeta Ganguly, was launched on Friday.

The two-minute music video, coming as a call to all Indians to unite during the COVID-19 crisis, showcases aerial views of Mumbai’s beautiful cityscapes as it binds the viewers in an awe-inspiring rendition of the nation’s anthem.

While Ganguly, a trained singer under the legendary late Suchitra Mitra, has sung the ‘Jana Gana Mana’, the short film ends with Tharoor reciting Rabindranath Tagore’s “Where the Mind Is Without Fear” – a poem evoking hope and courage amidst obstacles and deep uncertainty – that which we are facing as a nation and as a globe in the collective fight against the Covid-19 pandemic.

Jana Gana Mana music sheet
Jana Gana Mana music sheet. Wikimedia Commons

The video is conceptualized and edited by a twelve-year-old Adarsh Das, a student of the Dhirubhai Ambani International School. It has scenic visuals of several iconic locations like Wankhede Stadium, Marine Drive, Shri Siddhivinayak Ganpati Mandir, Chhatrapati Shivaji Maharaj Terminus and the Bandra-Worli Sea-Link.

“It was a moving experience to recite Gurudev Tagore’s immortal lines after listening to Isheeta’s voice and feeling the uncertainty assailing our nation in the grip of the COVID-19 pandemic. Our minds are currently gripped by fear of the unknown, of possible attack by the virus; fear has led to the demonization of certain of our own citizens, either because of their appearance or their religion. The Tagore verse speaks of India transcending such fears and narrow divisions to a broader self-realization. I felt it could not be more appropriate today to accompany Isheeta’s heartfelt rendering of the national anthem,” said Dr Tharoor.

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India, like the world, has been thrown into an unprecedented crisis where the toll it will take on our nation is deeply uncertain, adds Ganguly.

“Our National Anthem celebrates every region and Indian in this country and abroad regardless of caste, creed and colour. As a beacon of hope for all, we ask the city and country to join us in this movement of resilience and solidarity through our deep love and connectedness to this anthem joined with Dr. Tharoor’s recitation, spoken as if Tagore’s words are his own. Let us continue to support our incredible healthcare workers, essential service providers and police force who are working to support those amidst the frontline battle during this crucial hour,” Ganguly, who is also a playwright and director, said. (IANS)

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8 must-read works of Rabindranath Tagore

Tagore was a versatile artist who provided an earnest insight into society and humanity with his various short stories, novels, essays, songs, plays, and paintings.

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Rabindranath Tagore was the pioneer of Bengali Literature. Wikimedia Commons
Rabindranath Tagore was the pioneer of Bengali Literature. Wikimedia Commons
  • Rabindranath Tagore was the pioneer of Bengali Literature.
  • He has many landmarks works to his name which continues to inspire masses.
  • His collection of poems, Gitanjali got him the Nobel Prize for literature in 1913.

The Nobel Prize-winning writer, Rabindranath Tagore, also known as Gurudeva or the Bard of Bengal, was the trailblazer of Bengali literature. He possessed literary genius through which he brought a revolution in Bengali literature and music.

A painting by mullti-talented Rabindranath Tagore.
A painting by multi-talented Rabindranath Tagore.

Tagore was a versatile artist who provided an earnest insight into society and humanity through his short stories, novels, songs and paintings. His works even today inspire the masses and young readers and writers. Here is the list of some of his remarkable works:

Gitanjali

One of his best work is a collection of 157 poems called ‘Gitanjali’. The poems in this book vary in their themes, from spirituality to complexities of life. It was originally written in Bengali and was later translated into English. This work was so remarkable that Tagore got a Nobel Prize for it in 1913.

Gitanjali is the landmark work of Tagore. Wikimedia Commons
Gitanjali is the landmark work of Tagore. Wikimedia Commons

 Gitabitan

Rabindranath Tagore was a skilled and sensible songwriter. Throughout his life, he wrote a total of 2230 songs which are popularly known as ‘Rabindra Sangeeth’. The songs were compiled in this exquisite book called ‘Gitabitan.’

Chokher Bali

Chokher Bali or ‘A grain of sand’ is a Bengali novel written by Tagore, which was later translated into English. The story revolves around an extra-marital affair and depicts passion, desires, relationships and honesty in all its complexities. The novel is well known for its portrayal of complexities in a relationship.

Gora 

Rabindranath Tagore wrote 12 novels, and out of these, this one is the longest and most complex. It raises a number of concerns, which are relevant to our nation even today. This book aptly reflects different social standards in colonial India.

Rabindranath Tagore produced many works which changed the literature in India. Image source: buddybyte.com
Rabindranath Tagore produced many works which changed the literature in India. Image source: buddybyte.com

Kabuliwallah(The Fruitseller from Kabul)

The Kabuliwala is about an Afghan vendor who came to Calcutta, trying to earn a living. Along the way, he creates an emotional bond with the narrator’s five-year-old daughter. It is a very touching and heart-warming story which will leave you emotional.

Ghare Baire (The Home and the World)

This book has an autobiographical aspect. It reflects upon the deeper meaning of life by showing the struggles of three individuals. The story represents a war between the western and eastern ideology. Tagore chose Swadeshi Movement as the backdrop for this novel and provided a deep insight into the Bengal history.

The Postmaster

This is another one of Tagore’s work which revolves around the search for the meaning of life. This story of a city man working as a postmaster in a village to earn his living will give you lots of food for thought. The story represents loneliness in a beautifully haunting way.

Shesher Kabita

This novel was first released in a serialised form in the magazine ‘Probashi’. It was published as a book in the year 1928. The translated version of the book is called ‘The Last Poem’ and ‘Farewell song’ in English. The book portrays the platonic love of a matured couple and its complication. It is an epic love saga.