The action of the movie  we will watch and study during the Indian Festival is set in Kolkata, India. Let’s first discover India and then Bengal. Then watch the presentation of the city in the following video.

India: Main facts

The British established themselves in Calcuta in 1690

In 1854, the government of India was separated from that of Bengal, though Calcutta remained India's capital until 1912


1) What place embodies ‘high culture and melancholy decay (= déclin)?

The Indian Coffee House embodies ‘high culture and melancholy decay’.

2) Where is it located?  It is located on College Street.

3) To whom does this place endear (= fait aimer) the great city of Calcutta?

It endears the great city of Calcutta to Bengalis and foreigners

4) In the heart of a district of booksellers, the café echoes to the highbrow (= intellectuels) arguments of writers, students and intellectuals, as well as to the clash of cups and saucers (= soucoupes).

5) Who is Rabindranath Tagore? He is a great Bengali poet and polymath (= universaliste)

6) But what happened to Calcutta? Calcutta has fallen on hard times

7) What problem is mentioned? Economic and cultural decline

8) How does the Indian man explain it?  He says there are multiple factors behind it.

this place has grown extremely congested

 there has been a decline in the number of employment also due to sudden closure of industries

9) The other Indian man mentions the deterioration of values, behaviour, education, culture, everything everywhere.

10) Right or Wrong?

R W Calcutta has a glorious past. Right

R W It was India’s legislative capital until the British Raj made Delhi its chief city in 1911. Wrong    administrative

R W It remained India’s undisputed political hub for decades after that. Wrong   cultural

11) Note down at least four elements that gave Calcutta its reputation:

    •  modern education starting from the late 18th century
    • the Western curriculum
    • ancient and classical Indian learning
    • modern Indian languages
    • the culture of print which came late 18th cenntury
    • Shakespeare
    • modern science
    • print culture

12) How is today’s Calcutta?

It is very different, overcrowded and impoverished. It reeks of decay. Beggars lie half naked on the streets. Buildings crumble. Rats forage in the rubbish on the banks of the Hooghly River.

13) The story of the city has been one of inexorable decline since   Tagore’s death in 1941.

14) Who is mentioned as the main cultural figure in Calcutta? Rabindranath Tagore

Family: his family has now a museum

Skills: he was a poet, an artist and a musician the ultimate Renaissance man

When? a century ago

15) And yet……..there’s hope!

16) What do Calcutta’s artists and academics (= universitaires) see? They see signs of a new Bengali Renaissance

17) In what fields (= domaines)?

 in new cinema /  in drama / in the music of the city’s Bangla bands

18) What are they coming up with (= trouver, inventer)?

They are coming up with new theatres, new literary journals and magazines, new institutions and organizations of learning and culture.

19) What does this man say about these people? They are quite innovative and that there are shoots of new life springing up all the time.

20) What’s particular about culture in Kolkata? Why? It’s always rich. It’s got a good legacy.

21) What does Sibaji Paul explain? There are so many singers, so many vocalists, so many instrumentalists. There are lots of craftsmen. So Calcutta will be a cultural hub throughout.

22) Who is Aparna Sen? She is an actress and a film director

23) What has she done in her films?

She has celebrated the melancholy glories of the city’s social history.

24) What does she lament? She laments the loss of some of Calcutta’s old eccentricities, but she remains as hopeful as the filmmakers who have followed her

25) What does she explain?

Culture is not static. It’s like a river that keeps flowing. So it’s bound to happen. I think it happens everywhere in the world. You can’t expect a culture to remain static. Now these young people are finding their voices”.

26) What’s the main feeling the interviewer evokes about Calcutta’s cultural heritage? Nostalgia

27) What’s the artists and the writers’ opinion? They are confident that their city can reinvent itself