Restored 18th century Danish tavern to be inaugurated today

[JH comment: now if you were plying the illicit opium trade on behalf of dodgy East India Company officials, you’d also need to stop by the Tavern and deal. I guess]

DanishTavernopenFrom; The Milennium Post

by Nandini Guha | 28 Feb 2018 12:20 AM

Kolkata: An 18th Century Danish tavern that was in ruins, has been finally restored into a 120-seater café and lodge overlooking the Ganges at Serampore, by the Ministry of Tourism and the Government of Denmank. The heritage property will be inaugurated on Wednesday by Indranil Sen, the minister of state for Tourism and several ambassadors representing the Nordic countries. The tavern dates back to 1786. Restoration work was taken up by heritage architect Manish Chakraborti and his team in 2015. “A lot of European vessels used to ply on the river during that time. They used to spend a night in transit at the tavern. When we took over restoration though, it was in ruins. The roof had collapsed and there was debris everywhere. Now the old building has been restored to its old classical beauty,” Chakraborti told Millennium Post. The cost of restoration has been borne by the National Museum of Denmark (Rs 3.5 crore) and the state Tourism Department (Rs 1.5 crore). The Tourism Department is presently looking for an operator to run the café and it is expected that it will be fully operational in a month. “The important thing is that the government is investing in a heritage building that has now been converted into a reusable commercial space. As far as the menu is concerned, the operator has to keep in mind that this is Serampore and not Park Street. The pricing could be similar to cafes like Flury’s or Mrs Magpie. And of course, it will be a boost for the state’s tourism prospects,” added Chakraborti. Chakraborti had earlier won a UNESCO award for restoring the 200 year old St Olaf’s Church in Serampore, again an initiative of the Government of Denmark and the West Bengal government.


On Madhava Prasad

an overdue appreciation.

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Read the rest of the review here, or below:

In Cine-Politics: Film Stars and Political Existence in South India, film studies becomes politics, but also society, identification and desire. Prasad’s book contains six well-thought-out chapters, and reappraises the context of focus upon the well-known names and stars of ‘regional’ cinema from Tamil Nadu, Andhra Pradesh and Karnataka. Larger-than-life political icons MGR, NTR and Rajkumar will need no introduction within India, yet, from this book, the outside reader will also get sufficient detail and a good idea of the kinds of films, from ‘mythologicals’ to ‘socials’, that made up their cinema careers. However, the chapters also present the political trajectories of these stars, and the book’s significance is that the turning of film into politics demands a wider scope than any film studies’ focus has hitherto provided. The book importantly goes beyond any mechanical understanding of how film stars might use the cinema for political gain.

The first chapter shows how central government initiatives, especially the States Reorganization Commission of 1953, had deep ramifications for regional film, reflected both in the organisation of cinema as an industry and in the role accorded its emerging stars. The phenomenon of the ‘star-politician’ in South Indian films uniquely impacted upon politics there. Successive chapters then discuss MGR in Tamil Nadu, NTR in Andhra Pradesh, Rajkumar in Karnataka, and ‘fan Bakhti’, with an appendix on Jayalalithaa (see below). MGR, NTR and Rajkumar are so famous that we recognise them by their familiar initials or single names (Marudhur Gopalan Ramachandran aka MGR; Nandamuri Taraka Rama Rao aka NTR; and Singanalluru Puttaswamayya Muthuraju aka Rajkumar). Yet, even though each of them played a significant political role in his respective state, he did so in quite different ways and reflecting different political developments and changes. MGR was already a Dravida Munnetra Kazhagam (DMK) party activist before starting in films, and his film roles helped his party to success in 1967, before he formed a new party in 1972 to continue on as chief minister of Tamil Nadu until his death in 1977. In Andhra Pradesh, NTR’s entry into politics and film was through the Telugu language and Telugu nationalism; this gained him status and prestige in the state, but was less readily translated beyond the regional. Similarly, Rajkumar was identified with the identity politics of Kannada. As a political investment, this identity politics suggests a wider path and pattern, indicating a parallel organisational format between his political persona and his screen personality.

It is Prasad’s contention (and not inconsequentially Freudian in analytic reach) that ‘an adequate explanation for the cine-political phenomenon…cannot really be found in the content of the relevant films’ (p. 57). He makes this claim at the very end of a chapter on the cinema strategies of the DMK party in Tamil Nadu, whereby a kind of commodity logic is expanded. Prasad gives us the truism that, certainly in the last ten years, Bollywood has become ‘an appendage of the consumer goods industry via advertising’ (p. 22) and ‘a reflexive commodity, consciously produced in conformity with its own image’ (p. 23). It is not beyond the readers of this book to recognise an anti-commercial and regional argument that Bollywood is shaped by and yet also subsumes the regional. While not ‘any’ South Indian film will do to establish this point, a preponderance of star persona films, and the accompanying film marketing strategies, are identifiable and discernible as influences in, of and on Bollywood.

All the same, a question about content might clarify some issues for us. Do we need to have seen the films of the larger-than-life MGR for Tamil Nadu, or NTR for Andhra Pradesh, to know that there is something different going on with the star-persona film vehicles here than in that ‘other’ dominant Indian film tradition that regionalism necessary backs up against? In Prasad’s discussion of comparative cinema, the scope is larger than the screen. At stake is history itself when he develops a point from an earlier essay in which ‘modernity continues to be identified with the historical concretion of Western modernity, [and so] it will always seem that every other form is a deviant, or not yet modern’ form.11. Madhava M. Prasad, ‘Singular But Double-Entry: Paul Willamen’s Proposals for a Comparative Film Studies’, in Inter-Asia Cultural Studies, Vol. 14, no. 1 (2013), p. 9.View all notes This deviation is important because where once Hollywood, even at a remove, was regarded as ‘a source of knowledge and values that hold the promise of a better life’—and its ideas were ‘stolen’ and inserted into Bollywood films—today, instead, we see ‘an epochal change in cinema [that] comes in the wake of opening up of the economy in the process of liberalization and globalization’.22. Ibid., p. 10View all notes This gives us the rationale for Prasad’s new book as a development beyond his own 1998 scene-setting work on the melodramatic in Ideology of the Hindi Film;33. M. Madhava Prasad, Ideology of the Hindi Film: A Historical Construction(Delhi: Oxford University Press, 1988).View all notes it is by going beyond melodramatic narrative content that the political appeal of an MGR or NTR is activated in a wider context.

Cine-Politics asserts that after a distinct period in which writers were dominant in the movies, the celebrity star system took hold, and this star persona system now acts like a contagion. In the past, and consistent with melodrama, the fragmentary and episodic form of stories and plots existed within an abstract whole. Subsequently, the movement from writers to star system evident in Tamil films and in the discussion Prasad offers of MGR, means the writer’s message-communicating model has been hollowed out. The message is now the star. It is revealing that the phrase used to warn against dismissing this transition is that of the haunting spectre of denial. To take cinema as transparent is to remain caught within a communicated messages model that had already been warded off as a mere propaganda tool, thus inviting ‘positive or negative valuation depending on one’s agreement or disagreement with the content of the propaganda’ (p. 46). The cultural content that haunts here is not a contained narrative or plot; MGR is not seen to be significant in any particular film, but across all films. Grand narrative returns as embodied persona. MGR plays the gods in general, and in the ‘socials’.

Cine-Politics is not just a fan book on the extraordinary and curious phenomenon of larger-than-life film stars, it is also a commentary upon issues of such long-term interest that the book will surely become the standard reference for persona studies and a major contribution to film theory, significant well beyond its subject area and location. In Ideology of the Hindi Film, the discussion of screen kissing and subsumption, the conjunction of melodrama and Marx, made that book an indispensable reference; now Prasad recaptures his pre-eminence via a regionalism that reaches out to place region at the centre of an already full field. This is the peculiar brilliance of a study that thereby changes everything at the same time, such that arguments about melodrama as the presentation of the ideology of the nation as family drama are now worked through not only Mother India, but via the regional cousins too. The family resemblance of subsumption, even as a difficult theoretical framework, is explained and reinforced with local detail. The films are described with a film buff’s affection, but the analysis relocates MGR, NTR and Rajkumar, and with a passing mention of Rajinikanth and Jayalalithaa, conceptually in the mainstream.

Along the way, the too-quick judgements of journalists and sociologists, who should know the context better, are exposed as inadequate. MGR was indeed a heart-throb and hero through many films, but the viewing public is not simply programmed or predetermined to worship personalities. Nor, despite NTR’s penchant for portraying deities, do these film stars somehow ‘replace’ the gods in the public’s estimation. Prasad displays a healthy scepticism here; even if there is some truth to the adoration and identification observed in such commentary, it does not in any way satisfy or explain the political appeal of personalities, or the persona role, for the stakes are higher than that. Prasad offers substantiation via statistics to show that, for example, NTR’s roles in ‘mythologicals’ were secondary and subsequent to his roles in ‘socials’, films about issues and themes of social relevance. Playing gods was not typecasting of him (p. 76); his ‘star’ recognition had already been established long before his first appearance as Lord Krishna in K.V. Reddy’s Mayabazar (1957).

Some questions remain for debate: is NTR’s election as chief minister of Andhra Pradesh subsumed under a greater regionalist Telugu politics, or is Telugu regionalism subsumed in NTR’s star narrative? Is how the theatre tradition gives way to mass popular film, where the allocation of roles within theatre groups moves towards a different kind of logic in that the central character acquires an importance, beyond the symbolic importance accorded to the drama itself (p. 99)? Does film technology figure deeply here, in close-ups, tracking shots and audience responses to stars, persona and life, and in ways relevant to ‘star systems in every popular cinema industry’ (p. 100)?

Gaps in the text can leave these questions open, and this might help us think for ourselves. What perhaps is needed is a larger chapter on MGR’s co-star and political successor, Jayalalithaa Jayaram. We can perhaps understand why she only receives a short discussion in the appendix, but it could be fruitful to consider how continuity might have played out if the book had taken on her mastery of self-presentation and indeed ‘fan Bakhti’ in both film and politics. Here, regional analysis of the particularity of South Indian films of a specific time and context shows that the figures of MGR, NTR and Rajkumar, as well as Jayalalithaa in particular, can be understood as ‘roles’ or personas who extend beyond the film text into the socio-political in unprecedented ways. The ‘socials’ too contain specific characters for whom patronage and clientelism prevail, but also in which uplift projects and social programmes are initiated in the generic name of the star. The cine-political is not star charisma at the ballot box, nor is it a propaganda vehicle, but a moment in the history of cinema when specific audiences have been prepared to follow the leadership of on-screen political investments orchestrated by adept political operatives—and then act to consecrate such figures as leaders. It is with this that Prasad’s text is full of suggestive insights inviting further analysis. For example, he notes how an actor’s persona across films ‘begins to communicate through other channels than the films’ and even in ‘parallel to the diegetic content of the narrative’ (p. 142). His commentaries centre on enthusiasm, sovereignty, language, ideology and the commodification, and even mass reproduction, of star persona effects (p. 184). With these openings, Prasad’s thoughtful and thought-filled volume should become a classic of film studies, and not only for its regional specificity.


1. Madhava M. Prasad, ‘Singular But Double-Entry: Paul Willamen’s Proposals for a Comparative Film Studies’, in Inter-Asia Cultural Studies, Vol. 14, no. 1 (2013), p. 9.

2. Ibid., p. 10

3. M. Madhava Prasad, Ideology of the Hindi Film: A Historical Construction (Delhi: Oxford University Press, 1988).

Click this link if you got this far.

Danish Tavern Serampore

Danish tavern decked up to start second innings in Serampore

Ajanta Chakraborty| TNN | Nov 21, 2017, 04:53 IST

 KOLKATA: The double-storey Denmark Tavern, which was in a shambles till a couple of years ago, will soon turn into a lifestyle stay. The edifice on the banks of the Hooghly in Serampore will be Bengal‘s second government-backed live-and-conserve endeavour after the St Olav’s Church project, which was restored last year and is in back in use for prayers and religious ceremonies.
Come February xx will open the doors of Denmark Tavern that has risen out of debris after being painstakingly restored by the National Museum of Denmark (NMD) in tandem with the West Bengal Heritage Commission. The NMD has funded the Rs 3.5-crore restoration and the state tourism department is paying another Rs 1.2 crore for the finishing. It will be running the cafe-by-the-river, which will have six overnight-stay rooms.

The Serampore riverfront, which looked picture perfect during the Danish rule, fell on bad times and the majestic structures were left to rot for decades. In 2012, things started changing with Serampore Initiative, the grand revival of the former Danish colony. The Denmark Tavern restoration is part of the big plans to bring back the old glory of the former Danish colony.

“We are extremely excited about the completion of the Denmark Tavern, which was the most challenging of the restoration work we have done in Serampore,” Bente Wolff, curator, National Museum of Denmark, told TOI from Copenhagen. Over last several months, Wolff has been flying in and out of Serampore to supervise the restoration work.

“This is the first public-private partnership in the heritage sector at this scale. This will give a fillip to the CM’s pet project of river cruise linking all the heritage towns along the Hooghly,” said Manish Chakraborti, the project’s conservation architect

Clearing the morass and rescuing the tavern was the most formidable task ever, said Suvaprasanna, chairman of the commission. “The challenge was in connecting history with architecture. For instance, the exact location of the tavern was not known. Finally, we found documents showing it was next to the SDO’s residence. It took one-and-a-half months to clear the debris,” he said.

“Denmark’s interest in reviving the remnants of the buildings first started in 2008 at the ethnographic department of the National Museum of Denmark,” added commission member Partha Ranjan Das. Archival and field studies were carried out between November 2008 and April 2009 by restoration architect Flemming Aalund and historian Simon Ranten, who produced an elaborate, report.

Do you remember when Australia did this for CHOGM? So its not just a ‘commonwealth’ thing.

Urban beauty. I dunno if I am more disgusted by this event with Ivanka or the WP’ article’s failure to do proper comparative memory work – since I do remember various round-ups for dignitary visits in Australia. Malcolm Fraser, bizzaro now a lefty icon, had Alice Springs cleaned up for a visit of Commonwealth Heads. And then the area around Sydney was to be cleaned up before the Olympics as I remember. Tom Forgan, head evangelist for the Advanced technology Park, said: ‘well, you don’t want all your poor people standing around in the middle of the city do you’. Oh, and who was being cleaned up? Not poor white folks, of course. Bleaaagrrrrr:

Ivanka Trump’s impending visit to India prompts roundup of beggars

 November 10 2017
(Hyderabad police via Twitter)

NEW DELHI — As Ivanka Trump’s visit to India nears, the south Indian city of Hyderabad is getting ready to dazzle its foreign guests — by locking its homeless and destitute people out of sight in prison rehabilitation centers.

Nearly 400 beggars were picked up from city streets and trucked away to one such center at the Chanchalguda jail, the Indian Express reported.

As the city scrubs up to impress its foreign guests, police plan to clear away 6,000 beggars and have banned begging entirely in the city until the first week of January.

The beggars are “employing children and handicapped persons to seek alms at the main junctions of roads,” said the ban order. “Such acts are causing annoyance and awkwardness.”

View image on TwitterView image on TwitterView image on TwitterView image on Twitter

Habeebnagar PS staff conducted Beggar- free city at Dargha Yousufian Nampally

“Some beggars argued that we were taking their freedom to live anywhere they want but we told them it was for their own good because they are going to the rehab centre where they will be taken care of,” an unnamed official told the Express.

The beggar clearance comes weeks ahead of the three-day Global Entrepreneurship Summit that starts Nov. 28, where the first daughter will lead the American delegation to co-host the summit.

Ivanka Trump delivers a speech at the World Assembly for Women in Tokyo on Nov. 3.  (Eugene Hoshiko/AFP/Getty Images)

Authorities told ABC News that they want Trump and foreign delegates to see India’s good side and not the “Slumdog Millionaire” stereotype commonly associated with the country.

The event’s theme is “Women First” and its tagline, “Prosperity for All.”

In the past few decades, Hyderabad has rapidly rebranded itself as India’s Silicon Valley, as an outsourcing hub for global firms and the Indian headquarters of international tech companies, including Apple, Google and Microsoft. But despite rapid growth, wealth is unevenly distributed and a huge homeless population lives off the scraps of the city’s techie middle class.

In recent years, the city’s fortunes have begun to turn for the worse. Automation threatens jobs and new visa restrictions in multiple countries, including changes to H-1B in the United States, have dampened the hopes and ambitions of many young technology students.

To bring back some of its sparkle, India’s government is keen to portray the country as a pioneering technology hub and attract foreign investment.

George Rakesh Babu, founder of the homeless charity Good Samaritans in Hyderabad, said, “The preparations are happening in every corner of our city. But the prison capacity in Hyderabad is not enough to look after all these people.” He pointed out that the central jail’s maximum capacity was only 1,000.

Vanishing acts like this are not unprecedented when foreign dignitaries come to India. They happened in Hyderabad in 2000 when President Bill Clinton visited the city.

To judge from some of the reaction on the police department’s Twitter account, the move was welcomed by many.

Habeebnagar PS staff conducted Beggar- free city at Dargha Yousufian Nampally

We want to see begger free Hyderabad for ever. Hyd witnessed such things in the past when Presidents of America visited. Nevertheless we appreciate your efforts and best of luck.👍🏼

Others lamented that the roundup was temporary.

” . . . After the international conference has completed, situation remains same,” tweeted one man.

“Super job,” tweeted another. “But see that they r not allowed again on road.”

Habeebnagar PS staff conducted Beggar- free city at Dargha Yousufian Nampally

We hope it should be implemented successfully but after the international conference has completed situation remains same…

Mr Ram Nath Kovind, President of India, There are many in your jails, but some I have invited for talks at University of London several times. This requires your immediate action sir. Thank-you.


Image may contain: 1 person, sitting and beard

Letter from Sai written on 17th October received on 25th October 2017
Dear Vasantha
I am frightened to think of coming winter. Already I am shivering with continuous fever. I do not have a blanket. I do not have a sweater/jacket. As temperature goes down excruciating pain continuously in my legs and left hand increases. It is impossible for me to survive here during the winter that starts from November. I am living here like an animal taking its last breaths. Somehow 8 months I managed to survive. But I am not going to survive in the coming winter. I am sure. It is of no use to write about my health any longer.
In any case, please finalize the senior counsel by or before the end of this month. Then inform Mr. Gadling to file my bail application in the first week of November or last week of October itself. You remember if this is not done in th

is way, my situation will be out of hands. I am not responsible. I am making clear to you. Hereafter I am not going to write about it any longer.

You should talk to Mrs Rebeccaji and Nandita Narain. You also talk to Prof. Haragopal and others. Explain the entire situation. You need to hurry up

. I am feeling so depressed for requesting you all so many times like a beggar, a destitute. But none of you are moving an inch, no one understand my present condition. No one understands 90% disabled person is behind bars struggling with one hand in condition and suffering with multiple ailments. And no one cares for my life. This is simply criminal negligence, a callous attitude.
Please take care of your health. Your health is my health and entire family’s health. There is no one else to take care of your health for now. Till I am in your presence, you have to take care of your health without any negligence.

Lots of love

Max Weber on India Key References

Screen Shot 2017-10-28 at 17.18.37At the bottom of one of my shelves, unopened since undergraduate honours days, I have Max Weber’s book on Religions of India. got to wondering recently how he did this research, so I am going to explore. I have the Merton and the Mills, I have Reinhard Bendix, Max Weber: an intellectual portrait, University of California Press, 1977 and I plan to reread The Cambridge Companion as I had bookmarked the Mike Love essay in that called “Weber’s Orient’ where he promises, but does not I think deliver, the sort of explanation I want: ‘The grand theme of rationalisation of culture with all the ramifications this entails thus in the end is the real focus of The Collected Essays on the Sociology of Religion, a monumental but unfinished work’ (Love, in Turner and Regis 2000). I also just got the editor of the Cambridge Companion, Stephen Turner’s book with Regis Factor: Max Weber: The Lawyer as Thinker and the first pages of that look very promising. Given the recent family court stuff I have been going through, it will be good to read something other than a how to guide about the law. Though maybe there is nothing but guides (the cover of Turner’s book was worth seeing for ideas for my own next, I nicked it for this post, and linked to the book so as to be fair). When I was a visiting fellow for a year in Heidelberg you could just see Weber’s old house across the river from the Shiffsgasse where I lived – I think it was a language school by then (late 90s). My hope is that there will be a way to link up the lawyer’s interest in sociology and India with the very evidently habitual thought in Marx where nearly every important move in of the argument in Capital is then followed by an India-focussed example, reference, or graphic-poetic aside – the bleached bones of weavers on the plains, the hideous pagan idol drinking nectar in the skulls of the slain.

What are the other things I ought to must read?

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