As every educated Bengali knows, decades before a bunch of photogenic New Yorkers made it trendy, hanging out in a cafe — the Coffee House was cool. Hanging out — adda –with your friends after work, who can’t relate to that?
The Manna Dey classic suggests the great experience mid-20th century Calcutta would have been for young guys — the Art College graduate drawing sketches for marketing firms before making it to Paris, the reporter who would migrate to Dhaka
(and write a great book on 1971), the Goanese guitarist who died young, the amatuer actor suffering from a romantic tragedy related breakdown, the unrecognised poet with cancer….
… and the girl….
Ah, yes, the girl…. the one who is supposed to be happy because she has a millionaire husband who buys her jewellery….
Ray’s Big City wasn’t a great place for women.
Much of the subcontinent still isn’t.
Not Ingrid, nor Ingmar, but David — the nefarious Zionist Islamist enemy of our Holy Spirit of Liberation. In a just and fair country, he would be lauded for his effort. In a normal country, he would be ignored by everyone except for a few academic type. In Bangladesh, well, sigh…..
Forty years ago last week, things were happening in New Delhi that are more often seen in Islamabad and Dhaka. India came under a State of Internal Emergency on 25 June 1975. Indira is India — the cult of personality around Prime Minister Indira Gandhi preceded the Emergency, but with wholesale detention of opposition politicians on spurious charges, draconian censorship, executive decrees and ordinances bypassing the legislature and subordinating the judiciary, Indian experiment in democracy seemed to be over.
Then, in early 1977, Mrs Gandhi called fresh elections, which were held on the announced date, in a free and fair manner, and her party was thrown out of office by the voters, she herself losing her seat. Accepting the verdict, she stepped down. Indian experiment in democracy returned, to be continued to our time.
The Emergency plays a climactic role in Salman Rushdie’s much-celebrated novel Midnight’s Children. But it’s Shashi Tharoor’s treatment in The Great Indian Novel that I find more nuanced. Tharoor’s rendition of the Mahabharata has the general election of 1977, following the Emergency, as the modern-day Battle of Kurukshetra. Duryodhana, the leader of the ‘baddie’ Kaurava clan, is recast as Mrs Gandhi, while the ‘goodie’ Pandava brothers are: Morarji Desai (who replaced Mrs Gandhi as the prime minister) as the virtuous Yudhishtir; the Indian army as the valiant Bhim; media as the heroic Arjuna; and the civil and foreign services as the Nakul-Sahadeva twins. As the epic battle isn’t simply ‘good trumps over evil’ in the Epic, so it is in the novel, which ends with a place of honour accorded to Priya Duryodhoni / Indira Priyadarshini Gandhi in the ‘court of history’.
A few years ago, Vietnam was the rage among the Bangladeshi chatteratis who hobnobbed in the development circle. Look how they have forged ahead under a strong, patriotic leadership, while we languish behind because of our corrupt, venal political class — that was the refrain. Of course, anyone who knew anything reasonably detailed about both countries would have their eyebrows raised by that. I have vague recollection of writing something for Zafar Sobhan on this, but can’t find any link anywhere.
In any case, who cares about facts in Bangladesh?
… is upon Rahman pere et fils.
We’ve watched all six episodes — starting with A New Hope, followed by The Empire Strikes Back, then the prequel trilogy, to finish with Return of the Jedi. Then we started afresh with the first two prequels. Now going through The Clone Wars — we will not watch Revenge of the Sith until the animated series has run its course.
That’s, of course, on TV. On the iPad, between the homework, dinner and bedtime reading, endless loops of I am your father or you are the chosen one or goood, not to mention the lego or angry bird versions of the saga or eleventy million fan videos — that’s a different story altogether.
He has the lines from this memorised:
At this rate, I think the kid will have his first brush with disappointment because, let’s face it, sky high expectations are usually unmet.
Was it the unrealistic expectation that caused our disappointment with the prequel trilogy? After thorough research (see the first para), I am convinced that the prequels are bad in their own right. In fact, I can do better. I think I have a good idea of what went wrong with those movies. As long as these mistakes are avoided, I think I’ll be satisfied with the new one.
I guess only a Leone or Coppola could meet my expectations, so I must not be too harsh on Kamal Mukherjee. He ought to be lauded for taking a chance, but the fact that his adaptation only gets a 6.7 in IMDB tells me that there is room for Bollywood yet.
When that happens, it’s imperative that Bunyip is done right.
Voters of Dhaka and Chittagong are supposed to exercise their democratic right on 28 April. These elections are hardly going to change the political status quo that is Mrs Wajed’s one-person rule over Bangladesh. And yet, there is something for everyone in these elections.
In Dhaka North — where yours truly spent a part of his life — there really is a choice. Towards the end of this post, you will find the preference of this blog.
Forecasting is a bit like urinating against the wind, you feel the heat, while everyone else laughs at your expense. Okay, that’s not my original. I heard it from a former boss, who, being an Antipodean, used to express it in rather more colourful terms. But anyone involved in any kind of forecasting will tell you that it’s a mug’s game. Scenario analysis, however, is not forecasting. Rather than saying X will happen, scenario analysis is about what if X happens.
I have no idea what will happen in Bangladesh. Anyone who tells you that they know what will happen in Bangladesh is either pushing an agenda, or is delusional, or both. However, it is possible to make an informed commentary on plausible scenarios. And it’s even easier to comment on scenarios laid out by someone else. Fortunately for me, Arild Engelsen Ruud has already described five possible scenarios for Bangladesh. Over the fold is my take on these.