Bienvenue chez les Ch'tis-why I loved it  

Posted by: Shreyasi Ghosh in

Kad Merad (left) and Dany Boon in Bienvenue chez les Ch'tis.
Samir Sir,our French teacher,was being constantly badgered by our entire batch to show us a French movie.He finally gave in to our demands last Sunday.
The movie, we watched, was called Bienvenue chez les Ch'ti (meaning Welcome to he home of the Ch'tis), starring French-Algerian comic actor Kad Merad in the role of Philippe Abram,the post office manager in the beautiful Salon-de-Provence.He's so desperate to please his frustrated wife Julie,played to perfection by Zoe Felix,that he tries to pull a scam in the office and trick his superiors into transfering him to the sunny seafacing state of Cote d'Azur.He tries to fake that he had met with an accident which had damaged his legs forever confining him to wheelchair forever,in order to evoke sympathy amongst the authority.But then,his fraud is discovered and he's sent to Nord pad Calaise in extreme Northern France, as a punishment.Touted as the French Siberia,this place is detested by people all over France who think that the place is inhabitated by drunkards,gamblers antisocials and the likes.And the mindnumbling cold weather justifies it's nickname "Siberie de France".So much so that when the police nets him for exceeding the speedlimit on the highway,the uber sympathetic policeman refrains from giving him a ticket.After all,he's off to Nord pad Calaise.God bless him!

His destination is the town of Bergues,where people speak a language called Ch'ti.All I gathered from the movie is that it's horribly distorted French (N.B.: no offence meant to the people of Bergues and their language.It's just a layman's observation).On arriving he meets with a torrential downpour and almost runs over a drunken and utterly sloshed man by the name of Antoine Bailleu,who later turns out to be one of his colleagues.The incident fiirmly ingrains in Abram the belief that his stay is going to be like hell.

In course of time, he meets other people and gradually develops a camaraderie with the confused 'mamma's-boy' Antoine,the pretty,feisty independent Annabelle,and others.He sets about learning to speak in the local dialect,picking up idiosyncratic words and phrases,their habits et al.Despite some initial hiccups,Abram gradually realizes that these people are nothing like what he thought them to be like.So inspite of all his misgivings,he begins to open up and actually warms up to them. And Antoine's prophetic words resonates in the cry only twice in Nord pad Calaise.Once,when you come and once,when you leave...

But then,back home,his hyperanxious wife wants to know about his well-being and refuese to believe all the good things he's got to say about Nor pad Calaise.So Abram starts making up stories about how obnoxious that place really is.So much so,that the poor woman loses her sleep over her husband and decides to move in with him.Abram,who had just began to experience all the things that he'd frowned upon once(mostly influenced by Julie) and actually love them,freaks out.The entire locality lends hand to help him.The major part of the movie deals with what happens next.

There are subplots to the movie too.Like the ever-confused Antoine who lives in with Annabelle and is madly in love with her,but is scared just how to break the news to his mother(a brilliant cameo by the veteran French actor Line Renaud)of his desire to marry her.

The soundtrack of the movie consists chiefly of the lilting cheerful "Christmas"y peal of the organ bells.And music,so typical to the idyllic French countryside,that adds to the feel-good factor.

A balding Kad Merad is brilliant as the simple,bumbling,warm,helpless middle-aged man who listens to his heart and works accordingly. And Anne Marvin is charming as the sweet,independent,proud Annabelle.The rest of the cast too does a brilliant job to help the movie rake in the moolah at the BO.That too,striking a chord with the public.It basically aims at laughing at the common beliefs about Nord pad Calaise and its people,which almost fall into the realms of cliches.But,that's accomplished without hurting any public sentiment.And that's its winning formula.It's also about,the cycle rides in countryside,vin at country cafe,an old clarionette, small town people and their simple yet alluring out-and-out feel-good movie.It's the movie you watch with all the people you love,when you cuddle up to your favorite old cushion.smell the freshly baked cookies and breathe in the rainsoaked fragrance of the breeze.And all that.

There's only one snag about it.It doesn't have English subtitles.Well,to tell the truth,I'm against a movie having subtitles. But then,we being mere novices,it was initially immensely difficult for us to grasp what was going on as the French accent was far from what we're used to hear.Thank God Sir was there to help us out!

I love Bienvenue ches les Ch'ti. It's a beautiful film.

(And me being an ameteur movie critic,sincerely hope that I haven't ruined the effect)

Defending an afflicted it inanimate  

Posted by: Shreyasi Ghosh in

My cellphone is spooked.

I use a Nokia 1100 and have been using it for the past four years.
The Cell and the Stylus..a saga!
Back then, when I was in school, it was actually my mother's phone.But me, being the scheming daughter and she being the lenient Ma, I got to use it often, to send sms-es and , most importantly, give missed calls to friends, just to let them know that I'm right here and will soon be in possession of a cellphone like them!...Well, no qualms in admitting that, I did want a phone badly.But looking back, I'm happy that my parents were firm and didn't buy me one then.

There wasn't any dearth of cellphones for me to use.Didibhai,being a perennial tech retard,it was absolutely my responsibilty to show her how to use it.And inevitably,I'd put on a very grave expression and say..Tor cell e kichhu ekta gondogol hoyechhe. Have to check.Give me some time. And poor gullible Didibhai had no other option but to part with it.Man! I had a rocking time,smsing,playing games.or just texting people,bugging them with missed calls.Didibhai used a Nokia 73, a tremendously glitzy phone with a 3.2 megapixel camera and Carl Zeiss optics.The shutterbug in me was probably awakened then!The wonder called Global Packet Radio Service was slowly being discovered and diligently explored, turning a deaf ear to the incessant wails and accusations..Tui e kichhu korechhish!..when the exorbitant bill arrived( she had post-paid connection!)It had a 32 kbps connection and I,who was deprived of the availability of the Internet for two years in class 11-12,made full use of it.That phone has a special place in my heart for itself.I coveted it.For months,I dreamt of owning one like it.And devised schemes of how to wheedle Baba into buying me one.But then, Baba being Baba, he flatly refused.

Now that I'm in college, I'm using Ma's Nokia 1100.And I'm not complaining.Call me proud,but I'm planning to buy myself a good phone later,much later,possibly after I get a job and am able to buy it myself.Baba asked me whether I want a new phone and I said "No!"...Some people called me an "angelic fool"(I clearly remember :-) ). But then,it's not about that! I am fine with my 1100.

Yeah,indeed I am.True, its keypad needs to be changed after almost every three weeks,its battery malfunctions every now and then.Its cover has turned an ugly murky shade of brownish blue from deep blue.It's smeared with ink..courtesy: Tutun who dropped the ink bottle on the table.And, lies the killer as you can see from the above picture,there are two deep holes in the keypad, right where the Cancel and Menu buttons used to be.Reason??...No. I assure you, I'm not eating into it.It's just that,they 4th keypad I bought, was so goddamn tight( what do you call a keypad that refuses to work properly when its certain keys are pressed?Tight keypad?)that I had to almost use my nails to press it and as a result,there are two grooves in it.But then,I've a faithful pen which acts as an excellent substitute for a stylus!

Besides,now,the phone battery seems to have succumbed to the ordeals of old age and a manyyearslong arduous service.In short, it has gone mad!The screen starts flickering suddenly.The torch starts blinking automatically and when you try to switch it off, it's the cellphone which gets switched off in totality!It's like a horror movie,when apparently innocent things like cellphones and doorbells are the ones to signal you of an impending peril.And I don't like to think of all that at night. I'm worried.very very worried.

I don't want to buy a new cell now.In spite of the alluring offer from my parents of getting a new phone,I want to go on using my current phone for a while.At least 3-4 years more.I'm too attached to it.It's the first phone which I could call as entirely mine( notwithstanding the first 3 years when it was almost in Ma's possession). I've a multitude of fond memories associated with it.Once,it used to be the phone that helped people to make up for fights,fallouts et al.It helped lovesick loonabirds to converse for hours when they weren't lucky enough to have access to any other means of communication!It won me my first radio lottery.And many more!Today,that the phone is ill and needs help,people who had actually known it for long,have deserted it and are urging me to buy a new one.

I don't want one.Not for the time being.Be it ugly,useless,with the least number of features(not even polyphonic ringtones and colour),I love it.And I'm going to look after it with single-minded determination.Come disaster may.Just because,things grow old,that doesn't mean we have to chuck them out into the loony bin.
*steely glint in determined eyes*
p.s:I'm not exactly too broke to buy another new keypad.Feeling tad lazy!Will repair it next week.

A year back and now  

Posted by: Shreyasi Ghosh in

A year back..8th September.Our departmental freshers.Outside Indoor.
Clockwise from left:Alaka,me,Abhi,Gaurav,Crunchy,Sagar,Abhijeet,Bishan,Bando,Arko.And you can see Anirban's nose tip behind Crunchy's head.
College starts today.
We are no longer the "ickle firsties" but 2nd year er dada-didigulo, waiting impatiently for the 1st years to come,so that we can just pounce upon them. (N.B: If any person from the JU anti-ragging committee comes across this post, you know what I mean by pouncing,don't you? It's merely interaction! Nothing else! At least not for me. And btw, what about you?)
I'll miss being a 'first-year'.That too-familiar call...Ei je !st year..We came to JU, naive, wide-eyed, at its vast expanse, the sprawling campus, the jheelpar and staff canteen and all, in perennial awe of the union room(at least for me, for about eight months after college began!And the first time I went inside,I had cold feet,expecting to get ragged anytime.But then,someone was listening to All Apologies in his laptop,there was an Iron Maiden poster stuck to the steel almirah,loads of interesting quotations scribbled randomly on the wall and none of them gave me the vibe that I'm in potential danger of getting ragged!).We warmed up to the seniors. Had major issues, differences, fallouts. Gave two semester exams. Had U-Turn and Sanskriti.
I made new friends,loads of them.Missed school like crazy.Had some of the best seniors,both (from my department and outside it) one can ask for and I'm very happy that I came here and found them.Now,remembering the immense nervousness I initially had regarding seniors,I feel like laughing my heart out.They are the nicest and most easy-going and helpful dada-didis one can have in college.
Me. I gradually fell in love with JU.
And after a year of erratic ups-and-downs, I welcome all the 1st years to JU. Refrained from using any adjective. It depends mostly upon you!
P.S: Remembering a few pearls of wisecrack 'wisdom'.
1. A guy,eyeing a pretty girl near Milanda's canteen,turns and asks his freinds...Oi IR er meyeta kon department er re?
2. Kiii baje sitter!!!
3. Bolbo??
4. Ei je 1st year, ja duto Silk Cut niye aye.
5. Zoghonnyo!
6.Oi CR, class ta kata na please!
7. Bawal dewa hobe.
8. Jolchhe...(censored) :-)
9. 29 khelbi?
10. Choh..staff e jai.
...and many many more.


Posted by: Shreyasi Ghosh in

One rainy afternoon.The irresistable smell of fried illish maachh and ghee in khichudi. Manna Dey's soulful voice singing Coffee houser shei addata.. And My father started reminiscing about his college days.How they used to sit on the ledge at the canteen,play carrom and 29,some of them made passes at the passerby women(at this juncture, Ma and I looked at him intently,about to press for more personal details but he completely ignored us! ),the samosa-and-tea breaks in between boring lectures,the recitations of Banalata Sen, a couple of chengra chhokras, all inspired by the sudden glimpse of the too familiar laal they broke into an impromptu jig with Ke tumi Nandini in the background while poor laal orna had to endure their hoola dance and do some quick disappearing act to avoid further embarassments.Ma punctuated his recollections with sporadic outbursts of eeesh!!ki oshobhyo chhile go tomra! which sadly went unheeded as both me and Baba convulsed into laughter.Or Baba used to retaliate with a aha!!jeno tomra koto kochi khuki chhile! It's hard to take sides without implicating either parent!

When it comes to Ma,she makes it a point to remind me at every point that she was a very good,sober,serious student...(you get the drift,don't you?).But then,I thwart all her plans to take a leaf out of her book and pester her with questions like Ma! oi chheletar golpo bolo je Presidency te shob meyeke dekhe kobita likhto..Stuffs like that just to embarass her a little bit but then to make her smile at the bittersweet memories!Baba joins in the camaraderie and poor Ma has no other option but to give in to my whimsical demands.And so, one whole afternoon is dedicated to the poor,bespectacled,apparently bhalo chheler moto dekhte dejected,jilted Romeo who found solace in writing secret poems about his muse(out of pity I refrain from using the plural form) and then got laughed at when they were discovered in the yellow pages of his chhera khata. And also to the studs of the college,half-lit ciggies and all that. Ma used to be a model student but then she took part in fair deal of mischief in class too like writing poems mocking teachers,drawing cartoons out of them,aiming erasers etc.It was rather hard to imagine that my Headgirl-in-school Ma had actually succeeded in shocking the hell out of her Chemistry professor by calling her Mota Umadi in front of everyone in the class.She insists it was a bad slip, but then we like to think otherwise!

Baba was in the college football team,carrom team.He played the violin.He was a star 29 player.He bunked pass classes and sneaked into movie halls with friends to watch Uttam-Suchitra romancing on the silver screen.And now, he sits on the sofa,newspaper in one hand,or with a laptop,setting his glasses and typing at a furious pace to finish an assigned project.Occassionally when the radio belts out an old Manna Dey song about a group of seven friends,the Grand er guitarist, the kobi kobi chehara whose poems were mocked at just as his life,the art colleger er chhele or the shukhi meye with the lakhpoti shwaami and the others,all drifted apart in the big bad world by the tides of time,he looks up,with a smile and shining eyes and says..Ei gaanta Sumanta ledge e boshe khaali golay gaito....Sumanta amader dept e ekmatro CAB r player...

And I try to imagine what life would be like after 3 years.