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Kolkata’s Durga Pujo Pandals Blend Art With Realism

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By: Joymala Bagchi | KOLKATA
Updated: September 29, 2022 17:22
North Kolkata’s Kabiraj Bagan has recreated the final hours of India’s top playback singer Krishnakumar Kunnath, popularly known as KK
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This Durga Pujo, pandal-hoppers will have an exhaustive list that will be easy to draw but tough to cover!

With ‘Durga Puja in Kolkata’ being included in Unesco’s ‘Intangible Cultural Heritage of Humanity’, pandals this year have stepped up their act as they come alive with artistic brilliance, cultural confluence, and a dash of realism.

A vibrant pandal in North Kolkata’s Kabiraj Bagan has recreated the final hours of India’s top playback singer Krishnakumar Kunnath, popularly known as KK, against the backdrop of Nazrul Manch, the stadium where he performed last.

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Another pandal in Shreebhumi has etched out a replica of Vatican City’s St Peter’s Basilica and yet another depicts the look of Dutch post-impressionist painter Vincent van Gogh’s Starry Night running around the idol of goddess Durga, in a perfect show of synergy. In a reality check of sorts, a pandal at Rail Cabin showcases the gory turn of events that took place during the 2021 state assembly polls.

Speaking to The New Indian, Amal Chakraborty, the theme-maker and councillor of Kolkata’s ward 14 where the pandal relives KK, said, “We decided to recreate KK’s last performance as a token of tribute and gratitude to the popular singer, who has made a place for himself in the hearts of people through his renditions.”

“KK can never be forgotten. I have seen students and fans literally crying for him. It is then that the idea (of dedicating a pandal to him) struck and now, we are reviving his memory through his songs,” he said.

A statue of KK singing, in a black T-shirt and blue jeans — the replica of the one he wore during his last concert — was ordered in June itself. It has been placed in the middle of the pandal. The pathway leading to the pandal reverberates with songs that KK sang in his final hours. It also has a line of KK photos that fills the fans with a sense of nostalgia.

Shreebhumi Sporting Club has cloned the majestic St Peter’s Basilica, a church that was built in the Renaissance style, located in the Vatican City. Created in just 60 days, the detailing of the pandal with frescos on the wall is clinical to the core and is pulling a massive crowd even before the Durga Puja begins. Interestingly, Trinamool Congress leader Sujit Bose, also state’s fire service minister, is the president of the Shreebhumi Sporting Club. Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee has said that no traffic hazards, or bottlenecks, will be allowed in this area of Shreebhumi.

Shreebhumi Sporting Club has cloned the majestic St Peter’s Basilica

 

In Kolkata’s southern part, Bakulbagan Sarbojanin has deftly portrayed Gogh’s Starry Night. This pandal has given a sculptural representation of this epic masterpiece running hues of blue wall-to-wall and sunflowers hanging from the roof upside down. Most interestingly, the entire depiction rolls out from the clothes and representative hair of the idol of goddess Durga.

 

Kolkata’s southern part, Bakulbagan Sarbojanin has deftly portrayed Gogh’s Starry Night

 

Amid the arty dazzle and décor, one pandal has also dedicated itself to a “realm of reality” depicting political violence which took place during 2021 state’s Assembly election. The theme of Rail Cabin’s Durga Pujo, as per its organiser Biswajit Sarkar, is reality.

One pandal has also dedicated itself in depicting political violence which took place during 2021 state’s Assembly election

 

Sarkar said, “This pandal is based on truth, which depicts post-poll violence in West Bengal. This pandal is different from all others because you will not hear the dhak or sanai here but the wailing of mothers. We have also kept a martyr’s altar in the pandal as a tribute to those who lost their lives post-election.”

From North to South and from East to West — not to forget the central Kolkata — the ‘City of Joy’ has designed pujo pandals with a blend of artistic flair and realism.

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