People - Interview

Interview: Award-Winning Bengali Actress Sudipta Chakraborty on Nobel Chor: Mithun Chakraborty has Given Me a Nickname

By Shoma A. Chatterji

Actress Sudipta Chakrabarty

Calcutta, August 3, 2011 (Washington Bangla Radio) Bengali actress Sudipta Chakraborty makes an entry into award-winning NRI film-maker Suman Ghosh’s forthcoming film Nobel Chor. She bagged the National Award for Best Supporting Actress for enacting the role of a maid in Rituparno Ghosh’s Bariwalli some years ago. So her mastery over acting is beyond question as she began when she was a toddler in her noted father Biplab Ketan Chakraborty’s theater group. She has performed in every media she could – theater, television and film and is currently a creative director for two software companies, RealReel Private Limited and Lookthrough Entertainment. She is currently playing a dramatic role in an electrifying Bengali play Bikele Bhorer Shorshey Phool directed by Debesh Chatterjee and written by Bratya Basu. In a freewheeling interview, Sudipta sheds light on her role in Nobel Chor.

We have just heard the news that Nobel Chor has been invited for screening in the Window on Asian Cinema section at the Busan International Film Festival. Are you happy to have been a part of Suman Ghosh’s film?

I am thrilled beyond words. Screening in some other international film festivals is also in the pipeline I hear and with a director like Suman and the kind of films he makes, anything is possible.

What exactly is the character you play in Nobel Chor?

Interview: Konkona Sen Sharma on Iti Mrinalini - "Maa (Aparna Sen) had planned it very well indeed"

By Shoma A. Chatterji

Calcutta, August 3, 2011 (Washington Bangla Radio) Konkona Sen Sharma is now the mother of four-month-old Harun, and is on a brief sabbatical from films. At the time of this interview on July 12, 2001, she was looking forward to resume work soon and to the world premiere of her new Bengali feature film Iti Mrinalini directed by her mother Aparna Sen. Iti Mrinalini opened on July 29, 2011 in theaters and on the internet.

Still from Iti Mrinalini (Bengali, 2011)
A still from Iti Mrinalini (Bengali, 2011)

You wished to be a director. So how did you become an actress?

I acted as a small child in some films. But it never made me want to become an actress. Subrata Sen, a political correspondent, was looking for a new face for his first film Ek  Je Aachey Kanya (The Girl). Filmmaker-singer-actor Anjan Dutt suggested my name. Sen saw me perform in a play in Delhi. He suggested a screen test. I did the test and faced the camera. The film was a hit both critically and commercially. I portrayed the role of Ria Samaddar, a complicated young girl with a crush on a much older man was more like playing to the gallery. It was a glamorous role with negative shades.

What kind of preparation did you make for your role in Iti Mrinalini?

If Ma (Aparna Sen) is directing, she has her work charted out to the last detail – script-reading sessions, workshops, rehearsals, and the works. She is really a very hard task master and knows how to extract the best out of her cast and crew ...

Interview: Suphal & Suvojit Pakrashi of PAKRASHI HARMONIUM of Kolkata Continuing the Tradition of World-Class Music Instruments

Washington, DC, August 1, 2011 (Washington Bangla Radio) In India, the musical instrument popularly called the "Harmonium" refers to the hand-pumped (bellowed) version of the reed organ. In North America and much of Europe, "Harmonium" is mostly associated with the foot-operated version leaving both hands free for playing the keys. Harmoniums were overtaken in the Western world around the 1930s by the electronic organ, but remain hugely popular in India and entire South Asia as the primary accompaniment instrument used by vocalists themselves while performing. And Pakrashi is the name that pops up in the minds of most Bengalis whenever the best of Indian harmoniums are being discussed.

Interestingly, here is a description of a Pakrashi Harmonium on sale on (click here if you wish to order): "Harmonium, Pro, Folding by Pakrashi (Item Code: HRMPF-2) Harmonium Pakrashi & Co., folding, Scale changer with Mechanical Coupler. 5 drones and 4 stops. It has 3 banks of 45 reeds each.and 6 drone reeds. Comes in its own traveling case plus a nylon case too. Keyboard pops up, store in locked-down position for travel. Mechanical coupler (plays 2 octaves with one stroke). It is a 9-scale changer. The Keyboard slides to change scale. Integral bellows, dozens of sound combinations. Finish color and decoration style may vary from photo. The Harmoniums are not meant to be played in concert like a mini organ. This is instrument was introduced to India by the British. It has been embraced and is now a truly Indian instrument used as accompaniment across many genres of Indian music including Hindustani classical, light modern songs, Tagore songs, folk and devotional songs. In the early days, Harmoniums were are not in concert pitch and were not meant to be. As with many Indian instruments the key for the music is selected to best suite the vocals, or to set a mood. Traditionally, Harmoniums were usually higher pitched if compared to the Western Scale, and Harmonium tuning did not reflect the Western Scale and was not meant to. However, at present all Indian musical instruments comply the international pitch standard of A=440Hz, thus accepted in the western world.

Almost all singers and artistes from Kolkata are familiar with Pakrashi & Co. store selling musical instruments from 82-A Rashbehari Avenue. They are most renowned for their Harmoniums, and more often than not artists from Kolkata are seen playing a Pakrashi harmonium along while performing.

Suphal Pakrashi & Suvojit Pakrashi
Suphal Pakrashi (right) and son Suvojit Pakrashi of Pakrashi & Company of Kolkata

The history of the Pakrashis goes back to 1922 when Sudhir Chandra Pakrashi moved to Kolkata from what is now Bangladesh and established the store. Arijit Chakraborty caught up with Suphal Pakrashi and Suvojit Pakrashi, representing the 2nd and 3rd generations running the business in this informal and intimate audio interview.

Suphal Pakrashi
Suphal Pakrashi

The Harmonium was not really a popular instrument when the store was established. Suphal Pakrashi tells us how his father and uncle involved themselves with the leading singers of the time like Pankaj Kumar Mullick and exponents of the still-new Rabindrasangeet songs to map the notes of the Esraj to a keyboard instrument. Suphal dwells on the remarkable efforts by many people from their musician-customer community who worked with them to improve the instrument which over time has reached it's modern form. Technologies like scale-changer harmoniums are a labor of love of many dedicated artists working together with the Pakrashis.

Suphal, Suvojit and Rezwana Chowdhury Banya
From left: Suvojit Pakrashi, Suphal Pakrashi, Rezwana Chowdhury Bonnya

Suphal took lessons in playing the Sitar as a young boy, thus training his ears to music. Suphal would also watch his father continually research and improve the harmonium and experiment with delicate changes in physical measurements, angles, frequencies, airwaves, weights and such characteristics to attain the desired qualities in the sound.

Listen to the audio interview on Washington Bangla Radio.

Interview: Film-Maker Srijit Mukherji on Bengali Movie "BAISHE SRABON" & the Remarkable Journey of "AUTOGRAPH" (WBRi Exclusive)


Picture: Srijit Mukherji & Prosenjit ChatterjeeWashington DC, July 31, 2011 (Washington Bangla Radio) Srijit Mukherji returns to our studios after exactly one year to chat with Arijit Chakraborty about his upcoming 2nd Bengali feature film Baishe Shrabon and the remarkable response to his debut film Autograph. At the time of our last interview (audio available on-line here), Srijit was in the final stages of post-production of Autograph. Little did we know at that time that Autograph would go on to cause such an upheaval in Bengali cinema, winning an unprecedented 38 awards so far and setting a box-office performance record in recent times of an almost 4-month run!

At the time of this chit-chat with Srijit, he is wrapping up his 2nd feature film Baishe Shrabon which is at the final stages of post-production and almost ready to release around Durga Puja 2011.

"After Autograph, I wanted to make something that is diametrically opposite", says Srijit about his forthcoming film. "I have always been a thriller buff".

If Autograph were represented by a color, it would be feel-good white - or perhaps slightly grey. But Baishe Shrabon is going to be darker.

The script for Baishe Shrabon was written in 2008 (for a tele-film broadcast on STAR Jalsha Bengali TV channel owned by Rupert Murdoch's News Corporation). Srijit is no stranger to the thriller - he has written and directed live drama (theater) productions like the English play "MINDGAMES", Bengali play "FELUDA FEROT" (a vision of Feluda's later days from the perspective of Feluda's arch enemy Maghanlal Meghraj), and the play "CHECKMATE", and worked as an assistant director with Anjan Dutta (interview) for Madly Bengali and Aparna Sen (interview) for Iti Mrinalini. Incidentally, Aparna Sen's Iti Mrinalini opened in theaters this weekend along with Riingo Banerjee's (interview) System.

With Baishe Shrabon, Srijit says he wanted to explore genres of the drama and the thriller, violence, and Bangla poetry. Indeed, the producers are using the words "musical thriller" for the film, the oxymoronic labeling adding to the anticipation!

The film-maker himself describes it as being about ...

Listen to the audio interview broadcast via on-demand service on Washington Bangla Radio.

Interview: Film Maker Riingo on New Bengali Movie SYSTEM (2011) - In one word: Underworld

Ringo BanerjeeTollywood writer-director Riingo on Saturday (30 July, 2011) attended the première of his new film on the Bengal underworld, ‘‘System’’. IBNS correspondent Arnab Chakraborty caught up with him before the show.

Note: Washington Bangla Radio's exclusive video interview with Riingo Banerjee and his wife Shiny is available here.

How would you describe ‘‘System’’ in one word?


How difficult was making this movie considering the fact that it's a completely new venture?

Well it was quite difficult. The shooting method and the style of filming  were very difficult.

You have received a lot of praises for your technical superiority in the past. What is different about this film considering the technical aspect?

Interview:Actor Indraneil Sengupta on New Tollywood Movie "SYSTEM" (2011): "An attempt to reach the level of a Hollywood"

[Indraneil Sengupta] After the roaring success of his recent Bengali films with some of the best directors in town, top model turned actor Indraneil Sengupta is a Tollywood hot property now. On Saturday (30 July, 2011) Indraneil's new film  "System" was premiered. IBNS correspondent Arnab Chakraborty caught up with him before the show for a little one on one chat.

Note: Washington Bangla Radio's Exclusive Audio Interview Broadcast with Indraneil is available here >

How would you describe “System”?

Interview: Bollywood Actress Minissha Lamba on UTV Stars & Upcoming Hindi Movies Hum Tum Shabana, Joker, Zilla Ghaziabad

Indian Actress Minissha Lamba
Bollywood Actress Minissha Lamba
Hindi Movie Actress Minissha Lamba
Indian Actress Minisha Lamba
Indian Actress Minisha Lamba
Bollywood Indian Hindi Movie Actress-Model Minissha Lamba
Indian Bollywood Hindi Movie Actress Minissha Lamba

Bollywood actress Minisha Lambha on Thursday (28 July, 2011) visited Kolkata to promote the new entertainment channel from UTV group called UTV STARS. IBNS correspondent Arnab Chakraborty caught up with her after the event for an informal chat.

  • Please Note: You can watch Live Indian TV Channels online on your TV or PC via broadband internet using legal Streaming IPTV service broadcasting 24x7 directly from India: click here for details >

How do you feel about UTV STARS?

I think it's going to be great. I think we are going to come a lot closer to the people. Our lives are not really that extraordinary so half the things we tell to the press a made up. I think people are going to know about our really boring lives. I believe they will get to know us better.

Do you think there will be privacy issues?

Interview: A Musical Evening with Lopamudra Mitra & Joy Sarkar (Video)

Lopamudra Mitra and Joy Sarkar at their residence

Washington DC, July 29, 2011 (Washington Bangla Radio) In this musical video interview hosted by Soumitra Talukdar, acclaimed Bengali singer Lopamudra Mitra chats about her background, experience and musical career interspersed with songs in her golden voice. She is also joined by her husband Joy Sarkar. We are confident you will find the impromptu performances by two of the brightest stars of Bengali music mesmerizing.

The Carlyta Mouhini Experience - A Musical Chat with the Brazilian-Indian-Bengali Singer Songwriter (Interview)

Carlyta MouhiniWashington, DC, July 26, 2011 (Washington Bangla Radio) Listening to Carlyta Mouhini is an exhilarating experience, as Arijit Chakraborty found out during chatting with her in this WBRi exclusive audio interview with the singer, composer and song-writer. Doubtless you will also feel inspired, excited and generally everything will look brighter after listening to her infectious enthusiasm-filled chat and listen to her songs as she fluidly and adeptly switches between Bengali, Hindi, Punjabi, English, Portuguese and Spanish, adding music to words and words to music crossing cultures and genres instantly on the fly!

And perhaps after listening to this interview, you will also take away with you a soothing reminder that there are things which we control that we can try to influence the outcome of with hard work, and there are things beyond our grasp that will transpire according to our destiny.

Carlyta was born into the culture-rich Latin American environment where music is ubiquitous, to a Brazilian mother and a Bengali-Punjabi father, and grew up in a family where she was also deeply influenced by her Bengali grand-mother. As she quaintly puts it, she "came out of her mother's womb singing and dancing!"

The first and foremost quintessential characteristic of South American culture is the music - music automatically gets ingrained into anyone growing up there. Music teachers at school and insitutions serve to train and polish the instinct for music.

Today Carlyta is a multi-lingual cross-cultural music entertainment wonder. She makes the interesting observation that, at the end of the day, the audiences who speak and listen to her songs in different languages are not really that different, because music, like all human beings with a rhythmic heart-beat, is based on rhythm. Once an audience of any cultural ethnicity catches on to the rhythm, the lyrics and music effect them exactly the same way as they would to people who speak other languages. She has personally watched Brazilians dance to her live Hindi film song performances of Chamma Chamma (originally performed by Alka Yagnik for the film China Gate) and Le Le Maza Le (from the film "Wanted" starring Salman Khan performed by Suzanne, Saumaya Rao, Hrishikesh Kamerkar and Nikita Nigam). Similarly, Carlyta also finds people spontaneously breaking into dance when she sings in English (which is rarely spoken in South America).

Obviously, having grown up in Brazil, Carlyta greatly enjoys singing in Spanish and Portuguese. She loves singing in Hindi - after all Bollywood is Bollywood. But, she expresses special feelings for Bengali - a language she has a deep emotional connection with due to inheriting it from her father and her grandmother who instilled Bangla into her very personality. You will be undoubtedly impressed with her flawless common Bengali !

RIMA MUKHERJEE - An Exclusive Musical Chat with the Renowned Bengali & Hindi Film Songs Playback Singer (WBRi Interview-Feature)

Singer Rima MukherjeeCalcutta, July 24, 2011 (Washington Bangla Radio) On behalf of  WBRi, Soumitra Talukdar talks to Rima Mukherjee, the popular and acclaimed Hindi and Bengali film songs playback singer, in an informal and intimate video interview. This is a very special interview feature where Rima chats about her musical background, training and career, and being equally adept in Hindi as well as Bengali, spontaneously sings some wonderfully nostalgic songs, including O Akash Sona Sona, Dafliwale, a song from her memorable first Bengali film that was nominated for Anandalok Award for Best Playback singer (female) and many more over the course of this adda.

Rima started training as a singer from Srimati Sabita Mukherjee from the age of just two and a half years. After that she trained with Sri Asit Sengupta and Pandit Girish Chatterjee. Her first break as a singer was from music director Snehashish Chakraborty in a Bengali TV Serial. She sang in many tele-films and TV shows on popular Bengali TV channels, including on ETV Bangla, Akash Bangla and Rupashi Bangla. Rima subsequently moved into a spectacular career in playback singing in Bengali and Bollywood Hindi films.

Rima was nominated for Best Playback Singer at Anandalok Award 2004 for the film Gandagol directed by Haranath Chakraborty, and for Suthol Telecine Awards 2007 for the film Shakaal Sandhaya directed by Swapan Saha.

Singer Rima MukherjeeRima has worked with well-known composers like Anand Milind, Babul Bose (interview), Ashok Bhadra, S. P. Venkatesan, Ashoke Raj, Chandan Roy Chowdhury, Rishab, Asim Chatterjee and Snehashish Chakraborty.

Over her distinguished and continuing career, Rima has performed songs in almost 40 Bengali, Hindi and south-Indian movies, including duets with Sonu Nigam, Kumar Sanu, Udit Narayan, Amit Kumar, Babul Supriyo, Shaan, Kunal Ganjawela, Shreya Ghosal, Priya Bhattacharya and Javed Ali. She has worked with most top directors in Tollywood Bengali Film industry like Haranath Chakraborty, Swapan Saha, Ravi Kinagi and Sujit Guha.

Rima has recently released a Rabindra Sangeet album under the label of Purple Music (MP3 Download).

Some of the movies featuring songs by Rima include Gandagol, Baazi, Manik, Raju Uncle, Hungama, Maharan, Mastan, Swapno, Shokal Sandhya, Agni Pariksha, Jeeban Saathi, Prem, Narir Samman, Partner, Baazimat, Blood, Muqabla, Narir Protishodh, Premi No 1, Apon Shatru and Piriti Kathaler Atha.

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