Maharanis Exhibition 3-14 Oct 2015

Tasveer and the Harrington Street Arts Centre are delighted to inform you that the exhibition, Maharanis: Women of Royal India, is currently on view in Kolkata.

Although Indian royalty have in the past formed the subject of several exhibitions and publications, the emphasis of these have always been centred around the figure of the male ruler, or the Maharaja. As a counterpoint to these narratives, this exhibition, organised as part of Tasveer’s 10th anniversary season, focuses on the Maharanis and other royal women of erstwhile Princely India.

Chronicling the historical representation of royal women in India for over half a century, and through it, tracing the changing tropes of photographic portraiture, Maharanis: Royal Women of India includes images from the archives of the Museum of Art & Photography (MAP), esteemed royal collections from across the subcontinent and other institutional and private collections both in India and abroad such as the Victoria & Albert Museum and National Portrait Gallery in London, and the Amar Mahal Museum & Library in Jammu.

Functioning as documented history, the photographs in this exhibition point us towards the ways in which these women circumvented and reinvented the traditional, or embraced and reinvented the modern. Serving as windows into a time of great political and social change, they allow us to map the transforming modalities and conditions of the princely class, and its complex relationship with colonialism and the British Empire. Understanding the socio-historical significance of these photographs, thus, this exhibition approaches these women — alluring figures who sported chiffon sarees and exquisite jewellery, featured in Vogue lists and were touted as fashion icons — as voices from the past that history, and we, have seldom paid attention to.

Maharanis: Women of Royal India, will remain on display until the 14th of October 2015.

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Sharmistha Gooptu’s ‘Bengali Cinema’ 2010

have just finished Sharmistha Gooptu’s wonderfully detailed book Bengali Cinema: An Other Nation, and while I understand her decision not to write about Ghatak and Sen et al, I do hope there is a follow up. For sure this will not be the first time such a lament has been aired, but I think there must be a sequel since leaving things pretty much at the end of Apur Sansar is a jolt. Even though there are a dozen pages that skim through the 70s and 80s, the text really stopped at the detailed description of Chatterjee as Apu and this suggests more to come – can only hope there is a sequel that engages with Apu’s subsequent political mobilisation…

Sharmistha Gooptu seems to be custodian of an archive of filmi memorabilia, you can see some of it here.

Ustad Alaudin Khan – by Ritwik Ghatak

(24 mins of music doco from 1963)

someone asked why I posted this. . OK. Maybe because Alaudin Khan was the father of Ali Akbar Khan and Annapurna Devi, uncle of Raja Hossain Khan, and guru of Ravi Shankar, Nikhil Banerjee, Vasant Rai, Pannalal Ghosh and more…

And that isn’t even to get started on the great films Ritwik Ghatak.

De/siring India: Representations through British & French Eyes (1584–1857)

ICSSR-Sponsored International Conference organised by the Department of English, Chandernagore College, Hooghly in collaboration with Institut de Chandernagor


De/siring India: Representations through British and French Eyes (1584 – 1857)

18 January – 19 January 2016


18 January 2016

10 – 10.30: Registration (Charu Chandra Roy Memorial Hall, 1st Floor)

10.30 – 11.20: Inaugural Session

11.20 – 12.05: Keynote Address – Dr. Ian Magedera, Department of Modern Languages and Culture, University of Liverpool

‘Shall I compare thee to…’, Encountering and Countering Power in European Representations of India 1728 to 1857

12.05 – 12.15: Discussion and tea

Business Session 1 (Charu Chandra Roy Memorial Hall, 1st Floor)

Chair: Dr. Niranjan Goswami, Department of English, Chandernagore College

12.15 – 12.45: Prof. Rila Mukherjee, Department of History, University of Hyderabad


Knowing India in Sixteenth Century Europe

12.45 – 1.15: Prof. Nilanjan Chakrabarti, Dept. of English & Other Modern European Languages

Visva-Bharati – European Expansion and French Travel Narratives of seventeenth and eighteenth centuries on India

1.15 – 1.30: Discussion

Parallel Business Session (Geography Conference Room, 3rd Floor)

Chair: Prof. Supriya Chaudhuri (Emerita), Department of English, Jadavpur University

12.25 – 12.55: Prof. John Hutnyk, Social Research and Cultural Studies, National Chiao Tung University, Taiwan

Marx reading despatches from India

12.55 – 1.15: Ms. Janani Kalyani Venkataraman, Department of French, The English and Foreign Languages University, Hyderabad

Sati resolved –representation of Indian widows in French plays in the 18th and early 19th century

1.15 – 1.30: Discussion

1.30 – 2.30: LUNCH

Business Session 2 (Charu Chandra Roy Memorial Hall, 1st Floor)


Chair: Prof. Jayati Gupta, Tagore National Fellow for Cultural Research


2.30 – 3.00: Prof. Supriya Chaudhuri (Emerita), Department of English, Jadavpur University

Desiring Bengal: Trade, culture, and the first English traveller to eastern India

3.00 – 3.30: Dr. Anna Becker, Department of History, University of Basel, Switzerland

The Mughal Regime and Female Bodies in 17th Century English Political Thought

3.30 – 3.45: Discussion

Parallel Business Session (Geography Conference Room, 3rd Floor)

Chair: Dr. Arpita Chattoraj Mukhopadhyay, Department of English, Burdwan University

2.30 – 2.50:Mr. Ariktam Chatterjee, Department of English, Govt. General Degree College, Singur, Ph.D. Scholar, Centre for Studies in Social Sciences, Calcutta


Hindu Pantheon in London and a deported Sacred Thread: Instances problematising representation of India in the memoirs of British Baptist Missionaries


2.50 – 3.10: Dr. Swati Dasgupta, French Section, Dept. of Germanic & Romance Studies, University of Delhi

Women in the Indian Revolt of 1857

3.10 – 3.30: Dr. Sudipta Chakraborty, Department of English, Sreegopal Banerjee College, Hooghly

Crime and Empire: Colonial Imaginings and the Thuggee in Early Nineteenth Century British India

3.30 – 3.40: Discussion

3.40 – 4.10: Visit to the Exhibition at Institut de Chandernagor and Coffee

19 January 2016

10.30 – 11.00: Registration and Tea

Business Session 3 (Charu Chandra Roy Memorial Hall, 1st Floor)

Chair: Prof. John Hutnyk, Social Research and Cultural Studies, National Chiao Tung University, Taiwan

11.00 – 11.30: Prof. Jayati Gupta, Tagore National Fellow for Cultural Research


The Travels and Travails of Indigo in Bengal: Anglo-French Rivalry in the early Nineteenth

Century Context


11.30 – 12.00: Dr. Romita Ray, Department of Art and Music Histories, Syracuse University, USA


Canton to Calcutta? Tea and Eighteenth-Century Encounters in the Colonial Metropolis

12.00 – 12.20: Dr. Niranjan Goswami, Department of English, Chandernagore College

Diamonds, Spices and Brahmins: Locating Culture in Tavernier’s Narrative of Desire

12.20 – 12.50: Dr. Jyoti Mohan, Department of History and Geography, Morgan State University, USA – L’Inde historique

12.50 – 1.05: Discussion

Parallel Business Session (Geography Conference Room, 3rd Floor)

Chair: Prof. Rila Mukherjee, Department of History, University of Hyderabad

11.00 – 11.30: Dr. Abhijit Gupta, Department of English, Jadavpur University
A Case of Identity: Madame Grand of Chandernagore

11.30 – 11.50: Ms. Rita Chatterjee, Department of English, Maharani Kasiswari College, Kolkata, PhD Scholar, Centre for Studies in Social Sciences

Blurred boundaries and travelling identities: a reading of Eliza Fay’s original letters from   India: containing a narrative of a journey through Egypt   and the author’s imprisonment at Calicut by Hyder Ali (1779-1815).

11.50 – 12.10: Ms. Michelle Karunakaran, MPhil/PhD Scholar, English, JNU, Delhi

Voltaire on Indian philosophy: early chapter in the history of French Orientalism

12.10 – 12.40: Prof. Richard Wrigley, Department of History of Art, University of Nottingham, UK

Promenade and perception: on the status of flânerie in 18th- and 19th-century writing on India

12.40 – 1.05: Discussion

1.05 – 2.00: LUNCH

Business Session 4 (Charu Chandra Roy Memorial Hall, 1st Floor)

Chair: Prof. Richard Wrigley, Department of History of Art, University of Nottingham, UK

2.00 – 2.20: Dr. Abin Chakraborty, Department of English, Chandernagore College

“Crack mee this nut, all ye Papall charitie vaunters”: Reading the Narratives and Letters of Thomas Coryat

2.20 – 2.40: Mr. Pinaki De, Department of English, Raja Peary Mohan College, Uttarpara

Tints and Tones: (Dis)orienting Oriental Scenery

2.40 – 3.00: Ms. Soumya Goswamy, Department of History, Chandernagore College

Colonial writings and the agenda of understanding Indian classical music


3.00 – 3.15: Coffee

3.15 – 4.00: Valedictory and Vote of Thanks (Charu Chandra Roy Memorial Hall, 1st Floor)


Release Delhi University Professor, Dr GN Saibaba from Prison: Picket, London 28.6.2015

Release Delhi University Professor, Dr GN Saibaba from Prison: Picket, London 28.6.2015

Please join the picket at the office of the High Commission of India, Aldwych, London, WC2B 4NA 

From 1pm on 28th June 2015.(Nearest Tube Station:  Halborn and Temple)

 Dr GN Saibaba, a Professor of Delhi University and a versatile democratic rights champion was clandestinely abducted on 9th May 2014 by plainclothes Indian policemen. Since then, charged under the draconian Unlawful Activities Prevention Act (UAPA), he has been kept under solitary confinement in a dark cell of Nagpur Central Jail in the Indian State of Maharashtra.

Dr Saibaba, who is wheelchair-bound with 90% disability, has been in the forefront of the democratic rights movements across the Indian subcontinent. He campaigned tirelessly against ‘Operation Green Hunt’ – the Indian State’s war on the poorest of the poor of India, such as Dalits, Adivasis and peasants of Central and Eastern India, who are struggling to safeguard their lands, forests and rivers from being grabbed by the mighty and powerful  multi-national corporations – both foreign and Indian – in the name of ‘development’. For questioning the model of this so-called ‘development’, Dr Saibaba is incarcerated. Expression of one’s own views on political and socio-economic issues is not a crime but a very basic democratic right granted by the Indian Constitution to all its citizens. Perhaps Dr Saibaba’s only “crime” is that he stood in solidarity with the sons and daughters of the soil, who are resisting the corporate loot of their natural resources.

Dr Saibaba suffers from a heart ailment and degeneration of the vertebrae for which he needs constant expert medical attention. After his incarceration, his health has seriously deteriorated in the prison. The Indian State has ensured that Dr Saibaba’s bail application was rejected thrice. The trial has not started even after a year, and the authorities are denying him the necessary medical attention, which suggests that the Indian State is slowly letting Dr GN Saibaba’s health deteriorate to point of no return. Imprisoning a 90% disabled person violates the provisions of the Code of Criminal Procedure, the Persons with Disabilities Act, and the UN Conventions. His case is just a glaring example of a complete travesty of justice which happens far too often in the Indian subcontinent. There are 300,000 prisoners waiting for trial in the Indian prisons languishing for years without legal access, most of them from the most deprived social sectors.   

We appeal to all intellectuals, lawyers, students, workers and trade union activists of Britain and Europe to condemn the incarceration of Dr Saibaba and thousands of many others by joining the Campaign for the Defence and Release of Political Prisoners.  Please join the picket at the office of the High Commission of India, Aldwych, London, WC2B 4NA from 1pm on 28th June 2015.(Nearest Tube Station:  Temple)

Indian Workers Association, GB (Central Organising Committee); 

          Campaign Against Criminalising Communities (CAMPACC), UK;

  Tohum Cultural Centre – London; 
International Campaign Against the War on People in India

Shaheed Minar

shaheed minar

Already in 1990 you had to get permission from the Chief of Police at Lal Bazaar to climb this monument. A friend, Kate, and I went to see him and he greeted us with an expansive ‘So you want to see a panoramic view of my city’ – his arms opened wide in an all encompassing gesture that only accentuated his ample girth and the standard issue metro police belt that held all in place. We climbed the stairs – pretty high, it does seem more than 48 meters – and, as we were smokers then, we lingered quite some time up top discussing politics, war, freedom movements, rallying colours and of course panoramas, before we came down. Its very good news the place will be opened for visits soon once more. Site also of some of the largest rallies I’ve ever attended.

Here is the Calcutta City tours rave about it:

The 48 meter high Shaheed Minar, popularly called the “Monument” is a prominent landmark of Kolkata. Established in the year 1848, it was named Ochtorloney Monument to honour, Sir David Ochterlony who served in the Nepal War (1814 – 1816).  In 1969, this Ochterlony Monument received its new name ‘Shahid Minar’, which means “Martyr’s Tower” to honour the sacrifice of Indian freedom fighters. You have to climb 218 steps to reach the top of the monument from where you can savor a bird’s eye view of Kolkata.The architecture of Shaheed Minar shows a brilliant blend of Egyptian, Syrian and Turkish style of designing.

History of Shaheed Minar, Kolkata

It was founded in 1848, as Ochterlony Monument, to honour Major General Sir David Ochterlony’s (Commander of the British East India Company) triumph against the Gurkhas in the Anglo-Nepalese War of 1825. The architect J.P. Parker conceived the structure of this 48 meter high monument based on a blend of Egyptian and Syrian style with a dome having a striking resemblance with Turkish design. In 1969, the Ochterlony monument was rededicated to the freedom fighters of India – the martyrs who sacrificed their lives in the freedom movement of India and was renamed as “Shaheed Minar”, which in Bengali means “Martyr’s Tower.”

A winding flight of 218 steps takes visitors to the top of the tower from where one can have a panoramic view of the city. However, in 1997, a mishap occurred when a tourist jumped from the lower balcony of Shaheed Minar. From then, prior permission is needed from police to climb the monument. The last person to climb up the monument was the former Governor Gopal Krishna Gandhi along with his family.

Lately, the state government of West Bengal has taken initiative to open up the monument for both local public and tourists. The work of refurbishment has started in late 2011 and will be accomplished in two phases. After the completion of the work, both tourists and local people can climb up to the top of the monument. There are also plans to set up stalls in front of the monument. Initiative is also taken to clean the pathways and beautify them with flowering plants.

The vast field lying towards the south of Shahid Minar is popularly called the Shahid Minar Maidan or the Brigade Ground. The place hosts political rallies for several decades. The first political meeting on Shaheed Minar Maidan was headed by Rabindranath Tagore, where he condemned the assassination of a young man in Hilji by the British in 1931.

Big Fight, punchy new book to come… #India #Media #Film #SouthAsia (if I can get the final edits done this weekend).

Screen Shot 2015-06-17 at 22.47.58“TV is now increasingly entertainment. News is entertainment. You have to create some element of entertainment … people shouting at each other … or some kind of conflict. It is not always about information. I am not saying in the Big Fight you don’t try to inform but if the entertainment element was not there the programme would probably not have survived. You have to package it … First Punch, Second Punch … Otherwise who will see? There has to be some heat” (Sardesai interviewed in Mehta 2008:255)

(these pictures are not directly linked to the quote, which is about NDTV 24X7 news coverage as part of the new book < but there is indeed discussion of the film also>)

<Mary Kom was the winner of the 2008 World Boxing Championship>