Joy (the other) Bangla?

Posted in Bengal, comedy, Drama, history, movies by jrahman on October 11, 2017

Interesting things maybe happening in the Indian Bengal, and not just with films, though a film is a pretty good place to start.  Aparna Sen’s Goynar Baksho — a family dramedy about changing role of women in the mid-20th century bhadralok society — garners two wholehearted cheers.  Moushumi Chatterjee puts on perhaps the best performance of her career, and Konkona Sen Sharma is in her exquisite elements.  That’s two cheers, not quite a third for Srabanti Chatterjee though, who pales before the two veterans.  More importantly, the first two-thirds of the movie is astute social commentary that is simply fun to watch.  Depiction of the partition-induced transformation of a landed gentry East Bengali caste Hindu family into trade-dependent petit bourgeois is up there with the best of partition-related art.  Indian Bengalis tend to have a hard time pulling off East Bengali accent — this is a rare and pleasant exception.  For all that, however, the movie is far from being a great one because of its last third.  And yet, it’s the ending that made me think.

The story ends with this:


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Being Bengali in a divided Bengal

Posted in Bengal, history by jrahman on February 12, 2013

When asked his opinion on the French Revolution, Zhou En Lai is meant to have quipped, ‘too soon to tell’.  I stood in solidarity earlier today, but I echo the former Chinese premiere on Shahbagh.  I find it ridiculous to call it a Square.  I think people calling it a revolution or dawn of Fascism are being a tad bit silly.  But beyond that, as of now, I am observing and assessing.  As Sherlock Holmes might say, it’s not a good habit to hypothesise without sufficient information… actually, I am sure he would say something more pithy and cool, but you get the point — I am not in Shahbagh (or even in Bangladesh), and I am not going to say anything more about Shahbagh until I have more information.

Instead, I am going to note that this is February, the month when Bengali Muslims of an earlier generation discovered their Bengaliness.  This is as good a time as any to write about the articles by Naeem Mohaiemen and Arnab Ray that appeared in the New York Times last November.