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Monday, December 19, 2005

influence of bengali culture

All of a sudden, there seems to be undercurrents of a silent cultural revolution making its presence felt. Once upon a time, Bengalis wielded a strong influence on the Hindi films – there were music directors, film directors, musicians, playback singers, artists, craftsmen, actors and actresses who left Bengal and stayed on in Bombay to churn out their masterpieces that are held in esteem even today. Their outputs had universal appeal and seldom was any effort made to identify a typical character as a Bengali. Remember the song – ‘suno suno miss chatterjee, mere dil ka matter ji?’ The trend followed with the ‘babumoshoi’ Rajesh Khanna. The film was a runaway success and, from then on, Bengalis used to be lovingly called ‘babumoshoi’ by their non-Bengali colleagues and friends. Earlier it used to be ‘dada’ – but, the word ‘dada’ took on different meanings over a period of time and it was a relief to get an alternative fall into your lap at the right moment.

The next major influences were the films Devdas and Parineeta – here, the typical style of wearing the saree caught the fancy of the public. In fact it is said that the saree can make a woman look more womanly and appealing and the portrayals in the film were proof enough, if at all proof was necessary. Then there were movies like Yuva and Calcutta Mail that brought glimpses of the Bengali culture to the forefront.

The result was that the ‘K’ factory which seizes each and every opportunity to woo different segments of viewers decided to introduce Bengali characters in its serials. That provided it options to project the new dress codes of saree Bengali style! The ad campaigns took their cue and fell in line because it is their basic duty to find out which way the wind blows. And, they added backgrounds of the Howrah Bridge and the Calcutta trams and the rickshaws. It is a pity that Bengalis did not capitalize on the opportunity of going global with sindoor (the large round vermilion dot on the forehead of the married woman that adds a special aura to her personality), the white conch shell bangles (better known as ‘sankhas’) and the associated red ‘pawla’. Even typical Bengali sweets like rasogolla, sandesh and joynagarer moaah could provide wonderful consumer markets if packaged and marketed in real earnest. In fact, with existing International air links, these delicacies could make Bengalis settled abroad feel more at home.

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