Intellectuals, celebrities hail TV9 Bangla’s Baithak; says it kindles introspection, triggers dreams
Kolkata, 5th Apr: Celebrities pondered over some of the perennial imponderables of the Bengali persona and came up with fascinating interpretations in a spectacular and glittering event during the TV9 Bangla Baithak on 25th Mar, Friday. Organised to discuss Bangaliana, the umbrella theme to celebrate the first anniversary of TV9 Bangla from the country’s number one television network TV9, a cross section of Bengali achievers converged at ITC Sonar in a day long deliberation of some of the questions that have come to encapsulate some of the core characteristics of Bengalis, a race that led the country in diverse fields for well over a century but has somewhat lost its way over the past few decades.
Litterateur Shirshendu Mukhopadhyay (86) said Bengali bhadrolok underwent a transformation and learnt to sweat only after the Partition. “In my childhood I did not see Bengali porters, cab drivers or tongawallahs. But Partition changed all that and pushed Bengalis towards a severe struggle for survival and hard physical labour,” said the veteran author. Mukhopadhyay also commented that Bengalis think themselves to be superior to other races but are afraid to compete with them. He also said organisations such as Bandhan Bank are examples of Bengalis getting rid of old baggage and immersing themselves in hard work.
According to actor Ashish Vidyarthi, who was brought up by a Bengali mother, thought leaders extend horizon of their mind. One remains intellectually alert, and innovation follows in different fields. Vidyarthi whose oeuvre spans across 11 languages said events such as the TV9 Bangla Baithak can encourage people to dream.
Entrepreneur and managing director of Techno India group Satyam Roychowdhury said that he does not agree that Bengalis are not capable of setting up and running successful businesses. “I have been running a venture that harnesses the strengths of both goddess Saraswati and Lakshmi,” he said.
Ace summiteer Basanta Singha Roy pointed out that Bengalis are not idle and have frequently demonstrated their love for adventure.
One of the shortcomings of the Bengalis that was discussed was their inability to beat their own drums. Outlining the need for publicity, singer Shilajit said that more people want to click a picture with him than those that want to hear him sing, and therefore, publicity had its utility.
“One has to walk out of isolation and reach out to the people. But then one should do it with finesse,” said singer-lyricist-filmmaker Anindyo Chattopadhyay.
Veteran journalist Sankarlal Bhattacharya expressed a nuanced opinion about being absorbed in creative/intellectual pursuits. He flayed the craze for social media and said that it packs the power of publicity but lacks the touch of creativity.
Predictably the session that began with the question “Are Bengalis every inch a political animal?” generated the most heat. While discussing the rather tongue-in-cheek proposition, politicians such as former governor Tathagata Roy, minister Shashi Panja, Nirbed Roy and Shatarup Ghosh agreed that Bengalis are perhaps more politically aware and conscious compared to other races but could not agree on the point of whether that did them good or harm.
While Tathagata Roy thought this “political consciousness” was essentially a Left contribution that placed political awareness above other virtues and even made Bengalis forget the dividing line between what is fair and unfair, Ghosh said it made Bengalis a far more responsible and socially aware lot.
Actor Arpita Chatterjee, Rudranil Ghosh and filmmakers Aniruddha Roy Chowdhury and Anik Dutta said that Bengali films have to rise up to their earlier quality and pointed out that the government has to come forward to help the industry with halls and grants/subsidy somewhat in the lines of what Kerala has done.
Some of the facets of the Bengali persona that were fervently discussed in the Baithak were presented in the form of succinct questions: Are Bengalis afraid of hard work? Are Bengalis every inch a political animal? Are we like the proverbial frog in the well, totally absorbed in the rather limited world around us? Are Bengalis too caught up in our own creative/intellectual pursuits? Do Bengalis still consider ‘money’ and ‘profit’ dirty words? Or, are Bengalis poor in beating their own drums and are losers in a perception game?
TV9 Network CEO Barun Das said organisational politicking is a trait that cuts across all segments of the population and is not necessarily a defining trait of the Bengalis. Ïf an individual feels what he/she got is not what he/she deserves, politicking is frequently the result.”
Speaking during the session titled ‘Kathabarta’ with managing editor Amritanshu Bhattacharya, Barun Das also observed that if Bengalis have become risk averse, it is mainly because their aspirations have gone down. But he also said that the young generation feels at home with his/her counterpart in the developed west and I that sense the young adults have become global citizens.
Encapsulating the thought process behind the core theme of Bangaliana, TV9 Network CEO Barun Das said, “Thanks to my career outside West Bengal for more than three decades, a realisation is becoming stronger: Have Bengalis moved far away from the position of leadership that it once enjoyed? Is it possible for us to reclaim that position once again? Bengalis were once at the forefront in diverse fields such as education, culture, politics, industry, entertainment. Can they move back to that position once again?”
To explore this thought process, TV9 Bangla embarked on this journey to examine Bangaliana. In this quest On February 13, the channel aired the first telethon of Bengali television that focussed on dissecting Bangaliana and the contribution of Bengalis in different walks of life.
TV9 Bangla began its journey on January 14, 2021 right in the middle of the catastrophic pandemic.
It conducted the Bangaliana Telethon – the first telethon to be ever aired on Bengal television – where many Bengali achievers converged in its studio to discuss the yesterday, today and tomorrow of the race.
Those who moderated the sessions on Friday included TV9 Bangla Managing Editor Amritanshu Bhattacharya, Consulting Editor Anirban Chowdhury, anchor Pew Roy and Rumela Chakraborty. Anchors Lima Chatterjee and Manjira Dutta also took part on the proceedings.
The popular Bangla band Dohar regaled the audience with their performance between the sessions, enlivening the atmosphere with their unique offerings straight from the heart of Bengal.