Masquerading gelotophobia through self-evasive laughter: Exploring the link between the ridiculous Bangal in select popular Bengali Cinema of the 60s and his Ghoti Bhadralok and Bangal refugee viewer in the entre nous(?) of the movie hall



Ashes Gupta

Ashes Gupta is a Professor in the Department of English, Tripura University. He has been trying to promote NE literature and culture persistently. In his capacity as a documentary film maker on aspects of NE and Tripura, he has created a rich audio-visual archive of lesser known aspects of his homeland




Abstract: This is an attempt at tracing the negative stereotyping of the abominable Bangal in popular Bengali Cinema of the 60s through a sequence of factors/ events that include the Bengali refugee’s (the Bangal’s) exodus from erstwhile East Pakistan now Bangladesh in the post-partition timeframe, resultant erosion of cultural space perceived by the Ghoti Bhadralok (the original inhabitants of West Bengal and esp. Kolkata) and his tension, shame-bound anxiety and pathological fear of being laughed at (attributable to his deep seeded gelotophobia) by the rootless yet gritty refugees. Through a largely subjective reading and theorising, I propose to view this strategy of ridicule induced portrayal of the Bangal and resultant laughter as a reversal that is essentially self-evasive in nature. This paradigm intriguingly and interestingly encodes racial and communal undertones/ implications in the portrayal of the Bangal characters that serve to trigger the desired response of laughter. A case in point is the manner in which Bhanu Bandopadhyay has always been portrayed as the East Bengali - the Bangal in films like ‘Share Chuattor’, ‘Ora Thake Odhare’ et al. Such negative stereotyping and derogatory cultural codification rampant in popular Bengali cinema of the 60s obviously exposes the tension of the Ghoti Bhadralok who feels helpless at the proliferation of refugee colonies of Jadavpur and Shodpur in his home turf Kolkata, the obnoxious distortion of his ‘standard literary Bangla Bhasa’, the stink of gastronomical stigmas such as ‘shutkey’ (the disgusting dryfish) wafting in the air and to top it all, the rise of the Bangal intellectual (ref. ‘Bangalnaama’ by Tapan Roy Choudhury) and the emergence of the working Bangal women (ref. Hritwik Ghatak’s ‘Meghe Dhaka Tara’). Hence, for the Ghoti Bhadralok, the only means of countering and playing down this tension of erosion of cultural space due to an almost reverse colonization by a sea of rootless, homeless migrants was to negatively stereotype and laugh at the wretched lot of refugee Bangals who just refused to die in spite of their temporary relocation at Sealdah platform and ‘settlement’ at Dandakaranya, Marichjhapi and Andaman. This reading initiates a subversive perspective, thus unmasking the Ghoti Bhadralok viewer who masquerades himself as the privileged and the superior, both culturally and politically (but is internally gelotophoblic), while at the same time being aware of a gnawing reality of disposition. The result has been a very caustic and self-evasive laughter.

Keywords: Masquerading, gelotophobia, Bangal, refugee, Ghoti Bhadralok, negative stereotyping, gastronomical stigma, self-evasive laughter.

‘Laughter is a more social phenomenon, and it occurs for reasons other than humor, including unpleasant ones.’-              

-          Giovantonnio Forabosco1 (qtd. in Sabato)

                 ‘[L]aughter allows the audience to become aware of itself.’

                                                                                                                 - André Bazin ‘Theatre and Cinema’


An apparently uncompromising code of conduct and a certain self-induced seriousness have always been the hallmark of the Bhadralok Ghoti2 inhabiting Kolkata. Equipped with often passable knowledge of litterateurs and cultural stalwarts as well as spiritualists from Bengal (generally from West Bengal), he has always been fond of basking in their glory substantiated by frequent names-dropping. Tagore3 or Bankim Chandra4, Ramakrishna5 or Aurobindo’s6 works might not have been read, but the Ghoti Bhadralok of West Bengal (esp. Kolkata) believed that they were all great and hence unquestionable in their Bangaliana7. There was also very often a deep seeded feeling that as torchbearers of ‘proper’ Bengali identity, unquestionable in all its cultural ramifications, they were entrusted with the sacred duty of upholding and safeguarding it from all philistine invasions, not only from the Oriyas8, Biharis9 and Marwaris10 (a term homogenously and erroneously applied by them for all inhabitants of Rajasthan), but also from their ‘lesser’ Bengali counterparts- the Bangal11, abominable, gawky and uncouth in his disposition. This sense was as much a notion of territorial preservation as it was cultural. Tracing his origin from colonial clerkship (the Babu of British administration), through the negotiable and convenient Nehruvian socialism12 of immediate post-independence India, to the fashionable and mutated Leftism of the 60s, the Bhadralok Ghoti had reasons for his complacency, for his was a more or less undisturbed existence. Kolkata as a city-space provided him with a sense of perennial security and next to impossible dislocation/relocation. The city with its architectural and human wonders had allowed him over the centuries to strike his roots and spread his tentacles within its domicile. A considerable Western education coupled with the halo of Bengal Renaissance13 further solidified his claims to progressiveness and World enfranchisement. Occasionally ruffled by a Sepoy Mutiny14 or a Banga-Bhanga15, his existence was never threatened by outsiders moving in to work in Kolkata from muffasils and putting up temporarily in meager messes immortalized by Shibram Chakraborty (Muktarambabur Mess)16. Saratbabur Choritrahin17was enough to create a ripple in his otherwise unperturbed life whose center of gravity was well maintained by Robibabur Gaan18 and Bankimbabur Upanyas19. But ironically this was to be short lived post-partition. 

And in keeping up to this code of conduct that was the essence of the Ghoti Bhadralok’s existence, encoding his genteelness, this class believed in a certain apparent restraint and control, balance and sobriety that was the epitome of their cultural disposition by and large. Hence to laugh at their  own folly was unimaginable, almost blasphemous. The result was often a cultivated sophist façade under whose dark shadows lurked the insecurity of being ridiculed and laughed at by others who would read beneath this apparent (pseudo) serious and suave exterior and discover traces of endemic anxiety. This amounted to a chronic gelotophobia20 in the Ghoti Bhadralok class and an urgency to masquerade this with an immediately reverse act of negative codification of the ‘Other’ evoking ridicule and laughter. Strategically self-evasive at the core, this was an attempt to shift the gaze of the ‘Other’, whose cultural and territorial expansion created anxiety among the Ghoti Bhadralok entailing the risk of humiliation, of being made fun of, of evoking laughter in reality at his loss. However, it has to be remembered that this dichotomy and resultant threat perception have a long history and manifest themselves in a plethora of cultural phenomenon like the iconic rivalry between the football giants East Bengal and Mohun Bagan21 of Kolkata. Dating back to the inception of the former in 1920 (while the latter was founded much earlier in 1889), this rivalry had varied cultural and literary ramifications and had been fuelled by post partition refugee influx, when the homeless migrants from Bangladesh (erstwhile East Bengal) identified themselves with it and its fortunes on the football ground, triggering mass hysteria. Similarly Narayan Ganguly’s iconic Tenida Series22 with its humorous take on the Dada culture of Bengal (more specifically Kolkata) complete with Tenida’s often dominant yet laughable highhandedness, the almost nationalistic sense of belonging to the ‘para’ (literally meaning neighbourhood) of Patoldanga23 with the zeal for territorial preservation, its celebration of the ‘roker adda’24, cannot yet conceal the same ridicule with which Habul Sen25 (often addressed as the Bangal) is being portrayed. This and many other such  phenomenon provided a historical context encompassing almost half a century to this post-partition paradigm of the ridiculous and abominable Bangal being negatively codified and laughed at, that this paper intends to highlight.  

Cinema as a modern art form combines a peculiar blend of staticity (in terms of filming, post-production and projection in a post-performance timeframe as well as a delayed audience response, unlike theatre) and dynamicity (it’s a movie with progression in frames unlike photograph or painting) and offers itself as the right choice for analysing the filmmaker’s embedded intentions, ideologies, racist and communal motives at work as well as the audience’s ephemeral and non-verbal reactions and responses (such as laughter) that expose social, cultural and racist biases at play. But it is essential to remember here that the audience is not one uniform homogenous demographic entity, rather it is a pluralistic and heterogeneous mass with varied backgrounds and perspectives. Hence to comprehend the gelotophobia of the Ghoti Bhadralok viewer that remains concealed under his self evasive laughter, targeted at the ridiculous Bangal refugee character in popular Bengali films of the 60s mentioned earlier, it becomes essential to not only critique the film and its audience, but also the very construct of the cinema hall as a public space. Andre Bazin writes, “[L]aughter allows the audience to become aware of itself ” (Bazin 121).

It becomes pertinent to differ from Bazin here in the context of the Bangal viewer whose “becoming aware of himself” in a situation of cinema induced laughter might not in all probability be such an immediate possibility. Taking into account my own experience (as a Bangal belonging to a refugee family that had migrated to Tripura in North East India post partition) of viewing the films under scrutiny at a younger age, amidst a heterogeneous audience in Kolkata, I can safely infer that I had no qualms in joining in the collective laughter along with my Ghoti Bhadralok counterparts, since at that point of time the entertainment/pleasure function of cinema for me was prioritized as opposed to the critique function. As I situate myself in the context of the movie hall ‘then’ (as against the ‘now’ of my post-viewing), I realize that ‘awareness’, as Bazin terms it, for me was not operational ‘then’ and is only a development ‘now’. Therefore this collective and shared laughter on racist stereotyping, presented in all its naiveté in these films, enabled the Bangal viewer and his Ghoti Bhadralok counterpart to elevate themselves to an ‘entre nous’26, a public space as Charles Taylor would say, where the information that this is humorous and laughable was common awareness, but ‘then’ it certainly did not make me aware that this racist humour was targeted towards the likes of me. This further leads to the premise that awareness itself is a multilayered construct. My position as an uncritical and ‘unaware’ viewer fits into Julian Haniche’s proposition of the collective public expression function of laughter as instrumental in making the audience ‘aware’ of itself as a social group with common emotional response inhabiting the public space of the movie hall. But what about a Bangal Refugee viewer who, unlike me, at the very first instance of viewing these films, refuses and resists laughter, realizing that he is the target of these racist darts? For him and many others like him, the collective awareness function of laughter and the construction of public space in terms of Charles Taylor’s entre nous, based on a simplistic homogenization of the racial plurality of the audience in a movie hall get subverted and replaced by divided awarenesses. This paper is a consequence of a similar awareness, delayed of course, that derives from the critical faculty and critique function in the Bangal refugee viewer and is in sync with Haniche’s “difference in sameness”, a position that can only be achieved through an aware and analytic counter viewing or viewing as resistance27.

The praxis of this paper strangely necessitates reference to Ritwik Ghatak’s Meghe Dhaka Tara28 that indulges in a melancholy of loss and the all consuming struggle for survival delineating the fate of a dusky Bangal refugee girl (difficult to be labeled as heroine due to the lack of conventional glamour that this term denotes) and a migrant family. Far removed from laughter and humour (except might be for that insane variety which is the prototype of extreme sorrow when expressions of sadness and joy swap positions with each other), it induces everything else but laughter. Yet, strangely enough, this girl whose only desire was to live as she proclaims in the cult line from the movie, has a lot in common with the character that Bhanu Bandopadhyay29 portrays in Sharey Chuattor30 or for that reason Ora Thake Odhare31, where the ace comedian of Bengali popular cinema inspires laughter with his mimicking of the  Bangal. To begin with both belong to refugee families- the abominable Bangal, whose post-partition exodus to West Bengal from erstwhile East Pakistan now Bangladesh had completely altered the demographic profile of this culturally vibrant Indian state proud of its own traditional heritage and cultural legacy making an indelible and corrosive dent in the Ghoti Bhadralok’s domain. In the entre nous of the movie hall the viewers drool over the inescapable tragedy of Meghe Dhaka Tara, and explode into collective laughter (as was my case ‘then’) titillated by the humour of Sharey Chuattor or Ora Thake Odhare, all at the expense of the Bangal. But how do we reconcile these apparently paradoxical positions portrayed by this cinematic binary? This automatically entails a theoretical interjection. The proposition of this paper is that the laughter evoked by Bhanu Bandopadhyay’s humour in the latter films in reality acts as a cover up for a greater tragedy, of laughing as a counter to the impending threats to cultural superiority, shrinkage of cultural space and adulteration of a conceived purity of language and gastronomy to which the helpless gelotophobic Ghoti Bhadralok is subjected to as a consequence of the post partition refugee influx. At this juncture it is also relevant to point out that the Bangal refugee’s laughter at his own expense in the entre nous of the movie hall could be explained in terms of reverse gelotophobia exhibited by him. It is intriguing to note however, how the racial and communal undertones/ implications in the portrayal of certain characters in films et al. serve to trigger the desired response of laughter.  Haniche’s ‘control function of laughter’32 applies to the way in which mainstream Bengali movies like the ones in question, legitimised the negative stereotyping of the refugee Bangal in the entre nous of the movie hall thus created. The very act of reflection got temporarily suspended in this entre nous as it happened with me ‘then’. It is only in the post-filmatic time frame- the ‘now’, that I despise myself for having participated in the collective laughter of the entre nous. And in conformity with Simon Critchley, I validate the awareness that, “Humour can provide information about oneself that one would rather not have ” (Crichley 74). This is surely embarrassing and leads to a scrutiny of the phenomenon of laughter.  

            The laughter of the Ghoti Bhadralok viewer in the entre nous of the movie hall may be interpreted in terms of Freudian Release Theory as a release of pent-up nervous energy. This further falls in place with the evolutionary explanation of humor as proposed by Matthew M. Hurley. Hurley’s idea revolves around oppositionality. “Humor is related to some kind of mistake. Every pun, joke and comic incident seemed to contain a fool of some sort—the ‘butt’ of the joke” (qtd. in Sabato). According to him, the typical response to this is enjoyment of the idiocy. But he also adds that it “makes sense when it is your enemy or your competition that is somehow failing but not when it is yourself or your loved ones.” (qtd. in Sabato). This adequately explains the gelotophobic Ghoti Bhadralok viewer’s predicament of desperately clinging to a virtual superiority and infallibility on screen while in reality he was losing his foothold in his own home turf Kolkata. A common view of laughter across different cultures and societies is that it perpetuates negative stereotypes. Laughter is directed at those who are considered inferior and in itself is an expression of triumph and superiority. Deflation of the target and enhancement of the morale of those who tell/crack the joke is the aim with which laughter functions in a socio-cultural context. Again in such a milieu, laughter appears to take oppositional positions, it serves as a weapon of ridicule and banter that the socially, economically and culturally privileged flexes against the underdog no doubt, but it can also operate as a subversive tool for the subaltern whose caustic and acidic humour and laughter aims at debunking the so called sophisticated and scandalous aristocrats as in Jeleparar Shong33 of 18th and 19th century Kolkata. Laughter in such a case empowers the plebian ‘chotolok’34 to deflate the social hegemony. Hence, across ethnic lines laughter has also been considered as a form of aggression, especially when used by the oppressed.

            But the strange case of humor provoking laughter at the expense (?) of the Bangal in popular Bengali cinema of the 60s and 70s, presents a different story all together. In order to comprehend this paradigm in all its complexity, it is essential to locate Kolkata in West Bengal as a space that enjoyed certain socio-economic and cultural privileges vis-à-vis the rest of Eastern India of the times.  The supremacy enjoyed by Kolkata as the centre of Bengali culture resulted in a centralisation of cultural power and resources. Kolkata was also privileged to be the economic centre of Eastern India towards which there was a continuous flow of human capital in search of livelihood right from the colonial times. The ideology of standardisation as a result promoted the superiority of the Ghoti (the original inhabitant of West Bengal) over not only the Bangal- the refugee, but primarily over all types of migrants. Such was the attraction of Kolkata that people from Bihar and Orissa for instance flocked to the city in search of fortune and were negatively codified as ‘Bhojpuri’, ‘Khotta’ or ‘Paschima’ (the perpetual doorman) and Ure (the perpetual cook or servant) respectively. They were the ‘other’ who ended up as the butt of ridicule with their habitual dressing pattern, their accented Bengali and their eccentricities all marking them in sharp contrast to that which was Bengali (Ghoti), the ‘bhadralok’ and hence the standard. In fact, comic illustrations of such alienated plebians trying to survive in the hostile urban space inhabited by a condescending populace, populate the texts of Handa Bhonda, Nonte Phonte35 et al. and serve to provoke laughter.  But in the case of the Bihari and the Oriya, there was no threat perception at the cultural front for the Ghoti. The serenity of the latter’s’ sedentary life ruffled by regular adda on his ‘parar roke’ and an occasional Mohun Bagan vs East Bengal football match, was largely undisturbed. While for the lesser mortals of this race there was always ‘Gorer mathe hawa khaowa’36, for the higher ups there was the option of ‘hawa badol’ or going for a ‘change’ to Deoghar, Joshidi, Hazaribag and Giridih 37. The curious coinage of the term ‘Changer’ attributive of the inimitable carriage of the Bengali (read Ghoti) tourist complete with his signature muffler and monkey cap triggers immediate visualization and is a part of film iconography.

            However, this copy book reality was in for a strong jolt during the partition of India. The exodus had begun:

                        Such a long way ahead-

A boat to the steamer ghat

From there to the railway station-

What fun! This is going to be your first ride on train

The train will take us to the Check Post

From there you will walk, walk and walk-‘

‘Walk where Baba?’ The small boy, his eyes still fresh from sleep asked in wonder.

‘Where else? Our own country!’

(an excerpt from ‘Udbaastu’ by Achintyo Kumar Sengupta quoted in Sengupta, Jayita 31)

One can imagine the irony of the lines that speak of a naïve expectation only to be frustrated in reality on this side of the border. The huge human tide of homeless people forced to migrate to West Bengal disrupted not only the economic stability but also Bengal’s cultural stability. Sealdah38 station platforms were flooded with famished faces, streets of Kolkata turned into an ever surging sea of skeletal hands begging and wailing for rice bran, families used to decades of prosperity and well being suddenly found themselves in refugee ghettos that were relief camps (in some cases Permanent Liability Camps) only in name. The valour and vigour of the Bengali freedom fighters were repaid with a stigma- refugee- the Bangal. The Green Revolution39 never reached Bengal’s shore.

             A refugee in the context of this paper is a victim of the partition of Eastern India/undivided Bengal, one who has ironically left behind the real, but has carried on forever indelibly imprinted in memory that which is lost and remembered in superlatives, thus moving and simultaneously resisting to move. This peculiar paradoxicality of existence is also the cause of much trauma, the trauma that I am referring to here is not the physical violence and atrocities inflicted on him alone, but more than that the trauma of being uprooted from ‘one’s land’ one fine morning due to a political decision taken by those whose lives remained unaffected by the futility of the same decision. The field of green corn swaying in the wind ready to be harvested by someone else’s sickle, one’s own home that suddenly becomes a house, one’s land of birth transformed to a land not for him from which one has to move to a land that has been decided upon to be his, account for atrocities far more severe. Hence when he moved to West Bengal he already stood cornered, with his back to the wall and nowhere to recede further. The ‘earnest’ efforts of ‘sympathetic’ governments to rehabilitate him resulted in relocation to Andaman and Nicobar islands infested with unfriendly tribes or to survive against the black fever and malaria of Dandakaranya40 and Marichjhapi41. But survive he did and by sheer grit he transformed the saline landscape of Radhanagar Island in Andaman to a typical Bengal ‘palli’42 landscape, a replication that reflects the idyllic and iconic “Rupasi Bangla” of Jibananda Das with its model embedded deep in the refugee psyche:

Go where you will – I shall remain forever on Bengal’s shore,

Shall see jackfruit leaves dropping in the dawn’s breeze,

And the brown wings of shallik43 chill in the evening,

                           Its yellow leg under the white, going down dancing…..

(an excerpt from ‘Rupashi Bangla’ by Jibannanda Das quoted in Dasgupta & Bagchi, 197-6).

With the entire world conspiring against him, the Bangal refugee simply refused to die and with his uncouth ways and means started spreading his tentacles in Kolkata much to the dismay of the Ghoti.

            The post independence partition trauma of Bengal saw a gradual transformation of the Bengali (read Ghoti) Bhadralok’s cultural space in Kolkata. The proliferation of refugee colonies of Jadavpur and Shodpur in his home turf Kolkata, the obnoxious distortion of his ‘standard literary Bangla Bhasa’, the stink of gastronomical stigmas such as ‘shutkey’ (the abominable dryfish) wafting in the air, the sprawling refugee markets at Hatibagan and to top it all the rise of the Bangal intellectual (ref. Bangalnaama by Tapan Roy Choudhury) and the emergence of the working Bangal women (ref. Hritwik Ghatak’s Meghe Dhaka Tara) sent jitters down the Ghoti spine. The sedentary days of the roke, the petty intrigues of the indolent urban space, the ‘Shukhi grihakon shobhe gramophone’44 picture book middle class domesticity and the complacency of a life well lived went for a bouncer. A Bangal with a deep baritone by the name of George Biswas45 changed the musicscape of the effeminate Robi Babur gaan. Fights for possession of encroached land by the refugees in the colonies in and around Kolkata saw the rise of the Left. IPTA46 was founded and along with it the concept of mass culture for mass consumption. The picture of elegantly dressed girls getting down from a family Morris Minor45 to attend college competed with that of a dusky Bangal girl of the colonies in a cotton saree and a pair of slippers jostling for space in the local bus, Ritwik Ghatak’s ‘Meghe Dhaka Tara’ was born.

The ‘culturally superior’ Ghoti was thus subjected to a threat perception of shrinkage of cultural space in his own home turf Kolkata. He therefore resorted to comic stereotyping as well as negative and derogatory cultural codification of the ‘less cultured’ Bangal in popular cinema, making him the butt of humour and ridicule. This trend rampant in popular Bengali cinema of the 60s and 70s such as Share Chuattor and Ora Thake Odhare coincided with the post-partition trauma of the Ghoti Bhadralok - the original inhabitant of West Bengal, for whom the only means of countering and playing down this trauma and tension due to erosion of cultural space and territorial sovereignty caused by the almost reverse colonization by a sea of rootless, homeless migrants was to negatively stereotype and laugh at this wretched lot of refugees who just refused to die in spite of their immediate relocation at Sealdah platform and ‘settlement’ at Dandakaranya, Marichjhapi and Andaman. Laughter thus directed at the onscreen Bangal comedian (representing the inferior) provided a sense of superiority (virtual albeit) and an expression of triumph to the Ghoti Bhadralok class, leading to a deflation of the target. This enhanced the morale of the Ghoti Bhadralok who laughed out of an apparent superiority, but was ironically also threatened. Hence the laughter targeted at Bhanu Bandopadhyay in his inimitable aping of the Bangal in an otherwise predominantly Ghoti environs of screen space was an expression of desperation and was very caustic indeed, the result of the Ghoti Bhadralok’s deeply embedded and endemic gelotophobia. And for me, the collective awareness function of laughter that had resulted in the entre nous of the movie hall then, now leads to a feeling of being excluded from the laughing community. I comprehend, though late, the social and cultural distance between ‘us’ and ‘them’ and between critique and enjoyment and also become aware of the unacceptability of such laughter that pivots around negative codification and racial stereotyping. This strategy of counter viewing or viewing as resistance that derives from a certain reflexivity46 in turn explains the relation between the Bangal character on screen and his gelotophobic Ghoti Bhadralok viewer inhabiting the entre nous of the movie theatre as well as his counterpart the Bangal refugee viewer populating an audience that is essentially heterogeneous.


1. A psychologist and an editor at an Italian journal devoted to studies of humor (Rivista Italiana di Studi sull’Umorismo, or RISU).
2. The proclaimed original inhabitant of Kolkata and West Bengal. Bhadralok (Bengali: ভদ্রলোক bhôdrôlok, literally 'gentleman', 'well-mannered person') is Bengali for the new class of 'gentlefolk' who arose during British rule in India (approximately 1757 to 1947) in Bengal region in the eastern part of the Indian subcontinent. Most, though not all, members of the Bhadralok class are upper caste, mainly Baidyas, Brahmins, Kayasthas, and later Mahishyas. There is no precise translation of Bhadralok in English, since it attributes economic and class privilege on to caste ascendancy. The two biggest factors that led to the rise of the Bhadralok were the huge fortunes many merchant houses made from aiding the English East India Company's trade up the Ganga valley, and Western-style education (at the hands of the colonial rulers and of missionaries). The steep rise in real estate prices in Calcutta also led some petty landlords in the area to become wealthy overnight. The first identifiable Bhadralok figure is undoubtedly Ram Mohan Roy, who bridged the gap between the Persianised nobility of the Sultanate era in Bengal and the new, Western-educated, nouveau riche comprador class.
3. Variously hailed as Gurudev, Kobiguru, Biswakobi, Robindronath Thakur (7 May 1861 – 7 August 1941) was a versatile genius- Bengali poet, writer, composer, philosopher and painter. He reshaped Bengali literature and music, as well as Indian art and was the first non-European as well as the first lyricist to win the Nobel Prize for Literature in 1913.
4. Born on 26th June 1838, he was a novelist, poet, journalist and administrator. Chattopadhyay wrote thirteen novels and many serious, serio-comic, satirical, scientific and critical treatises in Bengali. He was the composer of Vande Mataram, originally in Sanskrit. He passed away on 8th April 1894.
5. Was a Hindu mystic, saint, and religious leader of 19th century Bengal who experienced spiritual ecstasies from a young age, and was influenced by several religious traditions, including Tantra, Bhakti and Advaita Vedanta. As a devotee of Goddess Kali and priest at the Dakshineshwar Kali Temple, his mystical temperament and ecstasies gained him disciples whom he eventually taught and who would later form the monastic Ramakrishna Order. His sayings have been compiled in Ramakrishna Kathamrita. He was born on 18th February 1836 and passed away on 16th August 1886.
6. Born Aurobindo Ghose (15 August 1872 – 5 December 1950) was an Indian philosopher, yogi, guru, poet, and nationalist. As an influential leader of Indian freedom struggle from British rule, he was convicted in the Alipore Bomb Case of 1908 and served a prison sentence but then became a spiritual reformer, introducing his visions on human progress and spiritual evolution.
7. The essence of being a Bengali in all aspects of living and culture, often used in an exclusivist sense to encompass all that roughly constitutes Bengaliness, might even border on parochialism.
8. Colloquial Bengali word for inhabitants of Orissa.
9. Colloquial Bengali word for inhabitants of Bihar.
10. An erroneously generalized term. Marwar is a province in Rajasthan and its inhabitants are the Marwaris, but in Bengali diaspora anyone who hails from any part of Rajasthan is termed a Marwari.
11. Inhabitants of erstwhile East Pakistan now Bangladesh who migrated to India post partition and during the Bangladesh Liberation War (মুক্তিযুদ্ধ) of 1971 and were dubbed as refugees (Bengali ‘উদ্বাস্তু’).
12. Socialism in India is a political movement founded early in the 20th century, as a part of the broader Indian independence movement against the colonial British Raj. Under Nehru, the Indian National Congress adopted socialism as an ideology for socio-economic policies in 1936.
13. Refers largely to the social, cultural, psychological, and intellectual changes in Bengal during the nineteenth century to the early twentieth century, as a result of contact between certain sympathetic British officials and missionaries on the one hand, and the Hindu intelligentsia on the other. Centered in Kolkata (Calcutta) and led by Raja Ram Mohan Roy (1772–1833), Bengal Renaissance reached its zenith in the hands of Rabindranath Tagore (1861–1941).
14. Also called the First Indian War of Independence, it was a widespread but unsuccessful rebellion against British rule in India in 1857–59.
15. The division of Bengal carried out by Lord Curzon, the British viceroy in India, despite strong Indian nationalist opposition. This initiated a transformation of the Indian National Congress from a middle-class pressure group to a nationwide party capable of mass movement.
16. Was a popular Bengali writer, humorist and revolutionary whose humorous short stories and novels are renowned for their unique use of pun, alliteration, play of words and ironic humour. He spent most of his life (1903–1980) in a second-floor rented accommodation or mess, consisting only of a bedstead & bedsheet at Muktaram Babu Street in Kolkata. He turned its walls into a hand-written calendar, documenting his time there.
17. A novel by Sarat Chandra Chattopadhyay, the popular Bengali novelist.
18. Later came to be known as Rabindra Sangeet- the songs of Rabindranath Tagore.
19. Novels written by the famous Bengali novelist Bankim Chandra Chatterjee
20. The fear of being laughed at, gelotophobia may be considered as a specific variant of shame-bound anxiety. It is defined as the pathological fear of being an object of laughter.
21. Legendary football clubs of Kolkata whose rivalry is well known, the former had the rare distinction of being the first Indian team to defeat a European team, the East Yorkshire Regiment, 2-1 to lift the 1911 IFA Shield.
22. The pet name of Bhajahari Mukhujje (Bhajahari Mukherjee), an endearing character created by Narayan Ganguly (4 February 1918 – 8 November 1970), an Indian novelist, poet, essayist, and short story writer, who wrote in Bengali. Tenida is a fictional native of Potoldanga in Calcutta. In spite of his lackluster academic career Tenida was admired and respected by the other three lads of his group for his presence of mind, courage, and honesty as well as his vociferous appetite.
23. A locality in Kolkata.
24. An extended concrete platform jutting out of the house by the side of the road meant for sitting in a neighbourhood and the usual place for idling away (Adda being a Bengali word for casual meeting for discussing everything under the sun, from the sublime to the profane).
25. A character of Bangal descent in Narayan Ganguly’s Tenida stories.
26. Charles Taylor uses this French term to denote a common awareness, a common vantage point, a
public space, something that is for ‘us’.
27. A term coined by the researcher to denote a conscious and critical viewing (in contrast to the
pleasure and entertainment function of viewing. This is borrowed from reading as resistance.
28. A 1960 film written and directed by Ritwik Ghatak (Bengali: মেঘে ঢাকা তারা Mēghē Ḍhākā Tārā,
meaning The Cloud-Capped Star) is based on a novel by Shaktipada Rajguru with the same title and is a part of the trilogy, Meghe Dhaka Tara(1960), Komal Gandhar (1961), and Subar –narekha (1962), all dealing with the aftermath of the Partition of Bengal during the Partition of India in 1947 and the refugees coping with it.
29. Real name Samyamoy Bandyopadhyay (26 August 1920 – 4 March 1983) was an Indian actor,
known for his work in Bengali cinema. He acted in over 300 movies, in numerous plays and
performed frequently on the radio. His signature comic style was a parody of the Bangal.
30. (Bengali: সাড়ে চুয়াত্তর; English:Seventy Four and Half) is a 1953 Bengali comedy film, directed
by Nirmal Dey, story by Bijon Bhattacharya, starring Tulsi Chakrabarti and Molina Devi, and \
co-starring Suchitra Sen and Uttam Kumar with comedians Bhanu and Jahar. Contemporary
playback singers like Dhananjay, Dwijen Mukherjee, Shamol Mitra and Manabendra Mukherjee
acted in this film.
31. "They Live on the Other Side" is a Bengali romantic comedy film directed by Sukumar Dasgupta
based on a story by Premendra Mitra. The plot revolves with the disputes between contemporary Ghoti and Bangal families. Finally their fight leads to a love affair between two protagonists.
32. Julian Hanich quotes Walter Benjamin and says if and only if audience reactions become public
others can control and judge them as ‘misguided or even ethically problematic”.
33. Live pantomime actors who during the Charak festival or other religious festivities went round
the city of Kolkata lampooning and ridiculing the Bhadralok Babus, the civic authorities and the
religious hypocrites. Jelepara (the fishermens’ quarters in the then Kolkata) as the name
suggests was famous for its participation.
34. The lower class and castes also known as the ‘Itarjan’ (the vulgar masses) who aspired to
establish a counter culture of the bawdy and the ribald.
35. Bengali popular comic strips by writer-illustrator Narayan Debnath published by Deb Sahitya
Kutir, Kolkata.
36. The English translation would approximate to strolling on the Kolkata Maidan for a puff of fresh
37. Places in Bihar and Jharkhand today that were famed to be restorative and healthy and were the
frequent haunts of Bengali tourists from West Bengal, esp. Kolkata.
38. A railway station in Kolkata.
39. Generally refers to the initiative of adopting research initiatives and technology in agriculture
for increased agricultural production. In India this movement was initiated in 1961 in Punjab. The aim was to convert agriculture into an industrial system by adopting modern methods and technology, such as the use of high yielding variety (HYV) seeds, tractors, irrigation facilities, pesticides and fertilizers. It was spear headed by the agricultural scientist M. S. Swaminathan in India.
40. A spiritually significant region in India, it is roughly equivalent to the Bastar division in the
Chhattisgarh state in the central-east part of India. East Bengal refugees were settled there in
Permanent Liability (PL) Camps in inhuman conditions post-partition.
41. An island in the Sundarban, West Bengal famous for the Marichjhapi incident (Bengali:
মরিচঝাঁপি হত্যাকান্ড) of 1979. It refers to the forcible eviction of Bangladeshi refugees and the
subsequent death of an unaccountable few hundreds by police firing, starvation and disease.
42. Rural village setting.
43. An Indian sparrow with brown body, white abdomen and yellow legs.
44. A proverbial quote showcasing the notion of musicality and symphony that orchestrates the
happy domestic life of the Bengali middleclass household symbolized by the gramophone in a
45. The cultural wing of the Communist Party of India, Indian People’s Theatre Association (IPTA)
was an association of leftist theatre-artists whose aim was to bring cultural awakening among the
people of India. In West Bengal stalwarts such as Hemanga Basu, Shalil Coudhury, Utpal Dutta
and many others were the members of IPTA.
46. A British economy car that debuted at the Earls Court Motor Show, London, on 20 September
1948 and was popular in India.

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