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Last modified: December 07, 1998. http://members.tripod.com/sankalpa/s2artnews.html
Creative Forum
Artistes' Forum News Reports: Volume 1 (Starting Sept. 1, 1998)
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SHORT LIST OF CONTRIBUTIONS: (click on the number in the first column to see the synopsis of the contribution, or you may click on the titles in 'bold' to go directly to the full article)
001 Printings raise Visva-Bharati's copyright hackles, Rabindra Bharati claims to be within the law
002 Tagore Trivia': Two universities fight over a non-issue
003 Rabindra Bharati plans a TV channel
004 Excerpts from 'The Second Act'
005 Insult to Ray: Can the film institute be revived?
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SYNOPSIS OF CONTRIBUTIONS: (click on the links in 'bold' to see the full contribution)  
If the article you wish to read has been archived (due to paucity of space) and you wish to see the full version, please Contact Us / mailto:sonargaon@hotmail.com
001 Printings raise Visva-Bharati's copyright hackles, Rabindra Bharati claims to be within the law;: article appearing on the front page of The Statesman, dated Sept. 5, 1998 
Relates to the objections of Visva Bharati University to some of the activities of Rabindra Bharati "to promote and disseminate" Tagore's heritage. 
002 Tagore Trivia': Two universities fight over a non-issue: Editorial appearing in page 8 of The Statesman, dated Sept. 12, 1998 
A scathing indictment of Visva Bharati University. 
See also Printings raise Visva-Bharati's copyright hackles, Rabindra Bharati claims to be within the law
003 Rabindra Bharati plans a TV channel: article appearing on the front page of The Statesman, dated Sept. 25, 1998. 
Rabindra Bharati University has drawn up a Rs 1.5 crore project to open a TV channel and a radio station to broadcast Tagore's plays and songs and spread his ideals.
004 Excerpts from 'The Second Act'; article appearing in 'DownTown' of The Statesman, dated October 9, 1998. 
A handful of bright young people are breathing a fresh lease of life into Bengali group theater. In the process, some like Kaushik Sen are redefining forms and techniques ...
005 Insult to Ray: Can the film institute be revived? ; Editorial appearing in The Statesman, date and page unknown. 
Exposes the ongoing, sordid story of the Satyajit Ray Film and Television Institute ...
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021 Sorry! This article has been archived due to paucity of space. For details, contact/ mailto:sonargaon@hotmail.com, quoting the reference #.
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   CONTRIBUTIONS / ARTICLES:
01. Printings raise Visva-Bharati's copyright hackles, Rabindra Bharati claims to be within the law; The Statesman, dated Sept. 5, 1998; Front page.
UDAY BASU, STATESMAN NEWS SERVICE  
 CALCUTTA, Sept.4. - Is Tagore a prisoner in his own house?
Or is the Rabindra Bharati University slave to Visva Bharati?  

A series of correspondence between the Vice-Chancellors of the two Universities has given rise to these questions. The authorities and faculty members of Rabindra Bharati University (RBU) are sore over the way the Visva Bharati University (VBU) Vice-Chancellor has objected to some of their activities "to promote and disseminate" Tagore's heritage.  

At the center of the controversy is an invitation card printed by RBU to mark Tagore's death anniversary last month. On the card was inscribed an eleven-line poem the poet wrote a few days before his death.  

The VBU V-C, Mr Dilip Sinha, shot off a letter on 10 August to his counterpart in RBU, threatening legal action if it "did not refrain from undertaking printing that infringes the law."  

Mr Sinha's letter said: "You have been printing Tagore's pictures and writings without permission and acknowledgment. We have already exchanged letters on this issue. yet, you haven't shunned this habit."  

The letter has not just "hurt the sentiments" of RBU teachers and the rest of its staff; it also claims it has kept within the bounds of law.  

The activities under dispute are: 

  • Printing greeting cards with a portrait by Tagore; 
  • Badges and brooches for RBU students with a line from Tagore's poems engraved on each; 
  • Printing a portrait of Tagore browsing through a book; 
  • Printing an anthology of Tagore's poems and observations about death; 
  • Stickers showing Tagore's face used by the university for any correspondence. 
Mr Shubhankar Chakraborty, V-C, RBU said the university sought VBU's permission whenever this was felt necessary; but it had also been standard practice to print excerpts from Tagore without the latter's clearance.  

"This is no defiance of VBU's authority. These efforts are fully in conformance with the RBU Act which enjoins the university to undertake activities to disseminate Tagore's ideas."  

The preamble of the Act says: the university was set up to "encourage in conformity with the ideas and thoughts of Rabindranath Tagore the integration of cultural heritage of the nation consistent with its linguistic and socio-economic history and to enable it to function more efficiently as a university encouraging and providing for instruction, teaching, training and research in various branches of learning and courses of study, promoting advancement and dissemination of knowledge and rearing and extending higher education to meet the growing needs of society."  

Mr Chakraborty and his colleagues clarified that they were not on a collision course with VBU. "But the question is: can't the university, located at Jorasanko where the poet was born and died, have the right to print a few lines from Tagore's works or propagate his ideas in a purely non-commercial spirit?"  

Mr. Dilip Sinha complained in a letter that RBU didn't even have the courtesy to send samples of its productions to VBU.  

Mr Chakraborty refuted the charge, asserting that samples of every such "innovative" work were sent to VBU. "And what is more, all our ventures had the approval of our university court where there is a nominee from VBU. The nominee never raised any questions. 

DISCUSSIONS:  
Comment # 1: Received from S. Mukherjee on September 7, 1998  
There cannot be any more doubt, that it was wrong to extend the copyright on Tagore's work by Vishwa Bharati. Moribund academics are stifling Tagore's relevance. Instead of spreading Tagore's  wisdom, these usurpers of Tagore's glory are more interested in riding on his coattails ... just like Tagore's initial critics, until he was rescued by foreigners ... for their own vested interests. 
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02.  'Tagore Trivia': Two universities fight over a non-issue: Editorial in The Statesman,September 12, 1998; page 8
It is unfortunate that two universities - Visva Bharati and Rabindra Bharati - supposed to be driven by the same Tagorean dream are engaged in a slanging match on what is clearly a non-issue. The points in dispute are the printing of some invitation cards with Gurudev's portrait, a calendar, badges, broaches, stickers and an anthology of Tagore's observations on death and some poems by Rabindra Bharati on the occasion of the death anniversary. All of it looked harmless enough and in keeping with the splurge of printed material and cultural programs each year on the birth and death anniversaries - Panchisey Baisakh and Baishey Sravan. Why did the Visva Bharati Vice-Chancellor suddenly choose to take objection? Does he hold that this distorts Tagore's ideals? In which case, he ought to object to every program of music and recitation that is staged and for which performers are known to charge a fee. If the real objection id to the nominal price tag, there is no reason to suspect that Rabindra Bharati is putting the effort to commercial use; the price covers the production cost and allows a degree of refinement in the mass propagation of Tagore's work. This is also to be seen in the context of recent efforts that include a son-et-lumiere to revitalize Rabindra Bharati. All this deserves to be encouraged, not restricted by the Visva Bharati's cynical attempts to preserve its monopoly.  

This is also the time to ask Visva Bharati in turn what good it has done to the publication front as a result of the 10-year extension granted on the copyright in 1991. The best works are out of print and little or nothing has been done to encourage new research to enrich the publications wing. If there is any attempt to further extend the copyright after the year 2001, there is a strong case for it to be nipped in the bud. There are scholars and well-intentioned publishers who can be trusted to do a better job than what Visva Bharati has done. Tagore's memory will be better served if Visva Bharati puts it own house in order - like cleaning up the mess in the music board in line with the inquiry commissions'recommendations - instead of coming up with flimsy objections to what others are doing. The ultimate question relates to the motive which seems beyond doubt in the present case. Objections can only be valid when the Tagorean spirit , not just the letter of the copyright law, is seen to be willfully violated. Even then, let the people judge.

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03.   Rabindra Bharati plans TV channel: The Statesman, dated Sept. 25, 1998; Front page.
 Uday Basu  
Statesman News Service  
CALCUTTA, Sept. 24. - Rabindra Bharati University has decided to open a TV channel and a radio station to broadcast Tagore's plays and songs and spread his ideals. 

A broad outline has been drawn up for the Rs 1.5 crore project. The university's executive council yesterday authorized its vice-chancellor to prepare a comprehensive plan.  

The V-C, Mr Shubhankar Chakraborty, has begun discussions to try and get the information and broadcasting ministry's consent. He has also approached the state government for support.  

The TV center and radio station will both come up at the university's Jorasanko complex, where the poet was born and died.  
"Funds will not be problem," the V-C said today. "A few months ago, we raised Rs 5 Lakhs through our new university-industry linkage. We are confident that the TV channel and radio station will earn enough from advertisements to make the project viable."  

Mr Chakraborty said the project was inspired by foreign universities, in particular Durban University in South Africa, which have their own TV channels.

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  4. Excerpts from 'The Second Act'; article appearing in 'DownTown' of The Statesman, dated October 9, 1998.
By Swati Sengupta 

Sen (extreme left) with members of his group: theater of tomorrow? 
 
... A handful of bright young people are breathing a fresh lease of life into Bengali group theater. Suman Mukherjee's Ganttabya, Amitava Datta and Bratya Basu's Aashaleen, Gautam Haldar's Nagar Kirtan and Jara Bristtitey Bhijechhilo, and Kaushik Sen's Prothom Partho are some of the interesting attempts in the recent past. 

Sen, who also plays the role of Karna in Prothom Partho is quite optimistic about the future. His group Shapnashandhani quite rightly claims, "We at least have the right to 'fail' "! ... meaning that they are not ready to plat it safe. Excerpts from an interview with Sen: 

Q. People involved with theater generally blame TV for their own lack of popularity. But they are the same people who act in TV serials. Isn't it a vicious circle? 

Sen: Are you talking about me? 

Q. Yes! why not? 

Sen: I am aware that I perform for 'bad' TV serials. But I am an actor by profession and I earn my living by acting. Bengali group theater is not financially well-off. So I have to do something else to feed my family and myself. 
I used to make a living out of acting and directing professional theater in Shyambazar. But even three or four years ago I could see it fizzling out. Those plays were just awful! I felt that I couldn't cheat myself while performing on stage. So I decided to quit professional theater and make a living out of acting in TV serials. But I can tell you honestly, that though I am compelled to make certain compromises here [in TV serials] I will never do so in my theater. 

Q. Why is it that Bengali group theater isn't able to attract too many people these days? 

Sen: About 5 years ago, it seemed that we couldn't move out of the rut. No one was daring enough to experiment with forms, techniques ... Bengali plays were a rehash of earlier performances, and extremely slipshod ones too. We were trapped in a place with no way out. But od late, interesting works are being taken up. Though we haven't come out of the crisis altogether, I have a feeling that there are better times ahead. 
Theater has to reach a wider audience, but it shouldn't mean that we will pander to the audience's demands. We should be able perceive that even people have a discerning mind - some of the recent successes have proved that ... 

Q. But what about reaching up to a wider theater audience - beyond that of ant particular place ? 

Sen: Yes, I do admit that we have been rather limited - and honestly I don't know the way out . One of the causes for this limitation is that theater halls in the outskirts of the city are in a bad state. Moreover, we are not really mobile because of our financial conditions. Some efforts are being made though. Nathyashamannay has been set up in order to organize theater festivals in the vicinity of Baranagar. I intend to organize shows along with local clubs outside the city, but only after a year or so. 

Q. So what would make people 'accept' Bengali theater? 

Sen: The most important thing for me is that I must be able to speak the truth whether or not I express leftist ideologies or progressive messages through my plays. The truth that I feel must be relevant to peoples' lives - only then will plays succeed ... 

DISCUSSIONS: 
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5. Insult to Ray: Can the film institute be revived?; Editorial appearing in The Statesman, date and page unknown.
It is a tragedy that an institute started by the government in the name of the master of Indian cinema to promote academic interests in the art should now be gasping for breath. Satyajit Ray would never have approved of his name being so sullied by the administrative lapses and injustice done to students. Yet that is the story of the Satyajit Ray Film and Television Institute since it opened its doors two years ago. A film-maker appointed chairman proceeded to admit students before the infrastructure was in place and the faculty complete. It took no more than a couple of months for students to express their resentment and in no uncertain terms. Jaipal Reddy, then Information and Broadcasting Minister, intervened to promise that the necessary equipment would arrive so that classes in cinematography, editing, sound recording and direction could meet the expectations of the students. Pune already had an institute run by the Ministry and it is entirely appropriate that we set up another in the city where Ray lived and worked if it can be given the same kind of material and manpower. Yet there seems to be no time-frame for setting up basic facilities. 

It is nothing short of a disgrace to Calcutta, home of the film society movement spearheaded by Ray and still said to have the largest number of film buffs, that teachers cannot be found for these specialized courses. This is perhaps due to lack of commitment to purely academic objectives. Practicing film-makers and technicians with careers of their own to look after are not the best choices; which is why Ray himself had declined all offers to take up administrative responsibilities. In the new climate of art getting lost in consumerism , it is perhaps futile to expect old values to prevail. Which is why one film-maker has been virtually compelled to resign from the institute's chairmanship only to be replaced b another who makes no secret of the fact that it will still be some time before justice is done to Ray's memory. A change of guard at the top makes little sense without the resources and the will to raise the institute's level to one comparable with Pune. Guest appearances by celebrities, promised by the new chairman, cannot make up for necessities. Only a whole-hearted effort by full-time administrators with the right kind of artistic sensibilities can rescue an institution set up with great hopes. Enough harm has been done already.

DISCUSSIONS:   
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6. 
DISCUSSIONS: 
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