Wednesday April 8, 2020

Mirakkel winner Subhasish Mukherjee talks on art and language conundrum


By Roshni Chakrabarty and Arnab Mitra

Kolkata: Paintings by Subhasish Mukherjee, winner of ‘Mirakkel Season 7’, are on display from November 7-14 at the Pratibha Art Gallery in the Academy of Fine Arts. ‘Mirakkel’ is a Bengali stand-up comedy show hosted by RJ and comedian Mir Afsar Ali, and featured on TV channel Zee Bangla. The exhibition, inaugurated by famed artist Samir Aich, showcases satirical pen sketches by Mukherjee.

The artist spoke to NewsGram on art, the relevance of language and Bengali comedy shows.

NG: You have added a Bengali poem at the bottom of each of your paintings. Say something on this unusual measure.

SM: Most people who come to see paintings appreciate them, but fail to understand their inherent meaning. Viewers must understand what the artist is trying to portray through their work, and the poems I added makes this process easier. It increases the viewability and understandability of the work.

People now neglect Bengali to a huge extent. School going students avoid using the language and some even proudly proclaim that they don’t read Bengali books or that they aren’t familiar with the works of Rabindranath. So, I have chosen to write the poems in my native tongue- Bengali, an effort to make more people come into contact with the language. If anyone is unable to understand what is written, I am always ready to explain the words in English or Bengali as required.

NG: Do you think the younger generation watches Bengali comedy shows such as Mirakkel or are they only interested in Hollywood and Bollywood films?

SM: Language is not a barrier when it comes to art, films, and music. Art has its own language. If I am listening to a song from the North East, I won’t understand the language, but I might very well love the music.

I don’t believe that the younger generation don’t watch Bengali shows or don’t like Bengali at all. I think which language one prefers is a personal choice. It varies from person to person according to their mindset.

But it’s true that English and Hindi have become a trend now. To communicate with most of the Indian mass, one must be well versed in either of these two languages as the vast majority speaks in them and no one can be blamed for this.

NG: Do you believe that great Bengali scholars such as Rabindranath Tagore and Sarat Chandra Chattopadhyay are not in relevance with the younger generation anymore, even though, at times they show an apparent pride in donning a kurta-pyjama on 25th Baishakh (Rabindranath’s birthday) or in keeping a copy of Gitanjali on their bookshelf?

SM: It is certainly a dangerous situation when people grow distant from their own roots and blindly try to follow a different culture. Such a state of affairs is also present outside Bengal. However, I believe that if a certain family decides to remain in touch with their roots and educates their children on their own culture with the help of the literature in their mother tongue, the younger generation is bound to stay in touch as well.

This obsession with the foreign culture has been around for ages and people are very proud if they get accepted in foreign universities such as Oxford or Harvard. The situation has grown all the more due to globalization, but it doesn’t mean that people have forgotten the likes of Rabindranath or Sarat Chandra.

NG: Are all the jokes delivered on Mirakkel your own work or do you take the help of other resources?

SM: Every joke and item presented on Mirakkel is not original. We often take ideas from Hindi movies or English comedy shows and translate them. However, it is true that often in the process of copying and translating jokes or other items, the original flavor of the piece is lost.

Mirakkel receives a very good response in Bangladesh. It is an amazing country and the people there are very sensitive towards their language. There are no such issues of language over there, such as the undue influence of English or Hindi. Most follow only Bengali.

NG: Do you think that, as a result of globalization, people have started to emulate the West even in matters of art?

SM: As I said before, art has its own language. An artiste’s style depends upon the artiste himself. Some might decide to be copycats, but painting, dance, music are all art-forms which come from a creative essence within us. The process isn’t meant to be mugged up or emulated.

Such is the western influence on our culture, be it in films, literature, music or art, that even if my own work is at par with that of an Italian painter exhibiting here, it is him who would receive more appreciation from the general public just because of his Western origin.

However, if I decide to copy Picasso’s style and his brushstrokes, that won’t make me Picasso. I don’t know if what I do is a western form or an Indian form. All I know is that I work with love and passion and with my own form—the Subhasish form (he laughs).

Subhasish Mukherjee
Subhasish Mukherjee
The artist with Samir Aich
The artist with Samir Aich
Samir Aich inaugurating the exhibition
Samir Aich inaugurating the exhibition


Samir Aich at the exhibition
Samir Aich at the exhibition

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The Knowledge Graph enables users to search for things, people or places that Google knows about — landmarks, celebrities, cities, sports teams, buildings, geographical features, movies, celestial objects, works of art and more. The feature allows users to get straight to the answer instead of scrolling through webpages.

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Starting today, when a user searches for cricket legend Sourav Ganguly in Bengali, Google Search will display things instead of strings – and instantly get information that’s relevant to the query such as Sourav’s date of birth, his number as an active cricket player, or links to his profile on social media in Bengali.

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Google has already begun to gradually roll-out the Knowledge Graph in Bengali and will be made available to users around the world. Today’s update will make it easier for the over 200 million Bengali speakers to search for appropriate information.

Google Knowledge Graph is currently available in 41 languages, maps out how more than 1 billion things in the real world are connected, and over 70 billion facts about them. Google claims that it is tuned based on what people search for, and what Google finds out on the web, improving results over time. (IANS)