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Looking back at 2015 – The Hits and Misses

Yet another year is on its last legs; calendars are waiting to be pulled off the walls and replaced with new ones. The air is merry; spirit of festivity has gripped the social media. Google has officially adopted a doodle to bid adieu to 2015 and usher in 2016.

While I belong to that old school of thought which hardly hopes for things to magically change at the stroke of midnight hour, it is not easy to let go of the excitement and fun that the world has soaked itself in. So at the cost of sounding like the herd, this post recapitulating the year gone by is sort of mandatory for any blogger.

When I think of 2015, the first thought that immediately crosses my mind – SHELDON LOST HIS VIRGINITY! Hell yeah! Those who belong to #TeamShamy would know what a BIG deal this is. In fact, this year had been a great one for someone who loves TV. From American sitcoms to Bengali reality TV, there were shows galore to keep you hooked!

Zee Bangla clearly trumped all its rivals by conceptualising a show that had never been tried on television – A singing competition where classical and Bangla folk got equal importance as film music! Unthinkable… And the popularity of the show Sa Re Ga Ma Pa only goes on to show if there is any shred of cultural heritage left in the world, it is in Bengal. Or else why would a young Keertan singer become a household name or a Baul couple from a hamlet in rural Bengal be accorded rockstar status?

As I said, Sheldon-Amy “coitus” was the shocker of the year while Priyanka Chopra made her “Hollywood” debut with Quantico and has taken the world by storm. Although the show looks inspired from Homeland, the episodes have been sensational so far and promise to made 2016 a riveting year! On the contrary, House of Cards proved to be a dud in its third season (probably building ground for the grand fourth season?) while Scandal has lost its charm completely. The saving grace – Harvey continues to entice us with his suave charm in Suits.

And when we talk of the small screen, how can the big silver screen be far away… 2015 has been a movie buff’s delight. It began on a thrilling note with Bengal’s new sleuth Shabor and ended in style with the classic Byomkesh in Benaras. Bengali cine goers were treated to some amazing films during Pujo – Rajkahini, Sudhu Tomari Jonyo and Katmundu added to the festive glitter. It was also the year when a Bengali film completed 200 days run at the theatres; Belaseshe made us all proud. 2015 was also the year of Asha Jaowar Majhe, Chhotoder Chhobi and Nirbashito – winning laurels for Bengal across the globe.

The year also took us back to our childhood with Jurassic World and Star Wars. In fact the year was particularly great for children with fun movies like Inside Out, Pixels, Good Dinosaur, Home and Night at the Museum 3. I am yet to recover from the astounding performance of Robert De Niro in The Intern and the best comedy-thriller of the year – The Man From Uncle. This was also the year of triumph of mankind as we colonised a new plant in The Martian and celebrated integrity and honesty in The Bridge of Spies.

In India too several films reinforced our faith in good cinema. Titli, Piku, Dum Lagake Haisha, Masaan and Dil Dhadakne Do stood out in the mad crowd of bad films as breath of fresh air. It was a year of historic blunders too; Bajirao Mastani and Bahubali are examples in this regard. Several good attempts were made at the box office as usual – Talvar, Angry Indian Goddesses, Shamitabh and Drishyam were honest films with their hearts in the right place but left us wanting for more.

Then there was politics. While the society at large is on a downward spiral towards a deep abyss bereft of morality or integrity, some encouraging signs keep us hopeful for our democracy. In successive elections, the facist BJP has been shown the door by people – the biggest jolt in Bihar. Across the country, people of eminence have spoken out against rising majoritarianism in the country. Bengal gave a thumping mandate in favour of the ruling Trinamool Congress in municipal polls; people gave a fitting reply to the daily dose of canards spread by the principal Opposition party in the State – a private media house.

All in all, 2015 kept our hopes alive for a better future. Hope 2016 will be a glorious year for all. Happy New Year!

Anarchy, violence and bandh – CPM continues to live in dark ages

CPM bandh

A mob of CPM harmads attack a female police officer

On 13 May, 2011 when the entire State of West Bengal heaved a sigh of relief after ousting the Left from power, one had hoped that the dinosaurs that inhabit Alimuddin Street would learn a lesson, introspection and opt for course-correction. That they have chosen not to is evident in the manner in which they chose to blame the electorate for their defeat. And if the last four years are any indication, the Left are still happily residing in the dark ages, relishing their archaic policies rejected by the people.

The manner in which Rani Rashmoni Avenue was taken over by armed harmads pelting stones and bricks at police, anyone could have mistaken Kolkata for Srinagar. Months before Assembly elections, the dinosaurs of Alimuddin suddenly woke up from slumber and wanted to “display their strength”. Police was attacked, a hundred laws broken, even women officers not spared by the murderous mob! The ugly scenes on TV yesterday reminded me once again why I had voted against the Communists in 2011 and will proudly do so again in 2016.

Old habits die hard

In 2001, when Jyoti Basu abdicated his throne for his successor Buddhadeb Bhattacharya, a section of media had hailed it as reform. Constant efforts by a popular Bengali media house portrayed Buddhadeb as a moderate who was interested in “industrialisation”. We all are witness to the manner in which he led his party in the ruthless game of land grabbing for his “Bourgeoisie” friends. Hollow slogans and muscle power of the harmads was all people got in return of the promises of moon before 2006 elections.

CPM bandh

CPM harmads beating up police with bamboo sticks

“Dheki Sworge giyeo dhan bhange” is a popular proverb in Bengal. CPI(M) too finds it hard to shed its politics of violence. In the past one year alone, the CITU has called over a dozen taxi strikes (foiled every time by people who chose luxury app-based cabs over yellow cabs which specialize in refusal). Like an annual vacation ritual, calling a general strike is also their favourite pastime! No lessons learnt from the past, these dinosaurs keep taking public sentiment for granted.

No To Bandh

People of Bengal are tired of bandhs. We have had enough of forced holidays, stalled productivity and brain drain. We want to work. No one is stopping those who want to exercise their democratic right to protest. But the protesters have no right to stop us from going to our workplaces. Forget the middle class; the hapless daily wagers are the worst affected in a bandh. These old men who shout their lungs out do not feel an iota of shame in depriving those poor people from earning a day’s wage!

Mamata Banerjee, when she was in Opposition, has also called bandhs. We have not forgotten that in December, 2006 we only got one week worth classes, thanks to her andolan! However, I admire her for she realised the futility of this archaic mode of protests and decided to give up the bandh culture in 2008. After assuming office in 2011, she made it amply clear that bandhs will not be tolerated.

From running extra government buses to making attendance mandatory (at the cost of losing a day’s salary), she has crushed the forces anarchy with a strong hand. The results are for everyone to see. A large number of people who would otherwise stay indoors on bandh day because of the fear of violence now fearlessly travel to their offices. The failed bandh on 18 August is an example for all. People were determined to work. The administration kept public life normal. The “bandh” was thus restricted to a pocket or two where the goons of Congress had a stronghold.

Footnote

The lesson in this episode is that people of Bengal are tired of the culture of violence and fear-mongering that prevails in our public discourse. People want peace and progress. We want jobs, not forced holidays because few old men with graying hair want to flex their muscles!

It is high time these out-of-work septuagenarians woke up and smelled the coffee!

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