“Most of our songs are meant to honour our ancestors, to connect people or to give advice on good behaviour.” - Layba Diawara

Layba Diawara was born in a family of musiciens in Faranah (Guinea, West Africa) in 1961. He played as a guitarist in different regional and national orchestras before he was asked to join the famous national orchestra “Bembeya Jazz International” in Guinea’s capital Conakry. In 1985 he made his first tour to Europe and the United States. In 1990 he settled in the Netherlands where, till today, he plays different styles of music and instruments with different groups. Recently he performed as a member of Tablatronics at the Kolkata International Music Festival organized by Song of Soul .This world music band from the Netherlands takes you on a journey through the most beautiful African melodies & soulful rhythms blended with state-of-the-art electronic music. “The unusual yet natural meeting of traditional African and modern World music brings together a deeper value of ancient traditions in the here and now, enriched by deep electronic sound-design & groovability. “The other members of Tablatronics who performed were Heiko Dijker (Tabla/Percussion), Igor Bezget (Guitar), Sharat Srivastava (Violin) and Joshua Samson(Hung/Percussion).

How did you start playing kora?

I started playing kora at home, in my family, because we are all musicians. When I was five years old, before going to school, my father started to teach me playing different instruments. Balafon, guitar, kora, ngoni, these are all our traditional instruments. I took my small kora (African harp with 21 strings) to India because this music sounds very much like Indian Sufi music.

Who or what has been your inspiration?

Without any doubt, my family. My grandfather used to play for me, my mother and my father also. They all gave me the passion for music and helped me to find my way in the rich repertoire of Djali music.
What is your opinion regarding experimenting kora with modern western instruments?

This is not a new direction in the way we play our traditional instruments. Playing music is like speaking an international language: you listen, you adapt and you gradually and surely come together. Without understanding Hindi, I am able to understand your music because we all search to know each other. In our music there are no borders that prevent us from exploring the unknown. In each music you will find something familiar.
Are the young generations taking interest in kora?

Yes, both my daughters want to learn to play the kora. And the young generation of musicians in Guinea also combines classical kora with modern rap. Before the kora was exclusively played for kings and high authorities, but today the kora has been set free and can be played in all contexts.
What is the basic theme of the songs you sing?

In each song I have a different theme but most of our songs are meant to honour our ancestors, to connect people or to give advice on good behaviour.
How was your experience performing in India?

I really liked playing my instrument with Indian musicians. I also liked the very positive feedback the Indian audience gave me. I liked the open attitude of the audience and their curiosity to learn about my instrument. I felt they also have no borders in music. I really hope I will have another occasion to play with Indian musicians to explore our common grounds and to see where our ensemble will take us.
What is your word of advice for aspiring kora player? 

What helped me a lot was that my family always told me to play with others, in different orchestras, and to search for new experiences. So my advice would be: first put your own love into your instrument and then take it into world to explore your possibilities. Be open and sociable and accept what others may give you.


“It’s really not that difficult for people to appreciate classical guitar music, we just need to create awareness and expose people to it".- Ramoncito ‘Monching’ Carpio

Filipino guitarist Ramoncito Carpio started to play guitar at age 12. He decided to study guitar formally at age 17 at the extension program of the University of the Philippines (UP) College of Music. He earned his Bachelor of Music degree at the UP College of Music, Master of Music degree at Philippine Women’s University (PWU) where is currently pursuing his Doctor of Philosophy in Music degree under the tutelage of Dr. Angelito Agcaoili.

In 2012, he won 1st prize in the Asia International Guitar Competition in Thailand and 2nd prize in the Taiwan International Guitar Competition. His other awards include 1st Prize in the Philippine International Guitar Competition (2011), 3rd Prize at the Singapore International Guitar Competition (2011), 3rd Prize Bangkok International Guitar Competition (2010) and 2nd Prize at the NAMCYA Guitar Category C held at the Cultural Center of the Philippines (2009).

He is very active in promoting the clacssical guitar not only by performing but also through organizing events. In 2014, he organized the first ever PWU Classical Guitar Competition and was one of the directors of the 2014 and 2015 PWU Guitar Festival. He is part of the guitar faculty at the Philippine Women’s University and St.Scholastica’s Colege, Manila. Monching also writes music for the guitar and stage plays. Monching speaks to Abhijit Ganguly on the sidelines of CALCUTTA International Classical Guitar Festival & Competition.

What is it that drew you to the classical guitar and what do you love about the instrument?

It was really an accident how I came to be a classical guitarist. I used to be in a heavy metal band when I was younger, it was not until I was 17 years old that I learned that a music conservatory exists. The main reason I wanted to study music was because I want to be good in playing in the electric guitar. Since classical music is not very popular in the Philippines, I was quite shocked to know that they only teach classical music/guitar in the conservatory, I found it very interesting so I pursued it anyway.

I really like the complexity of the instrument. I love how it is able to play the melody, harmony and basses all at the same time. I also love the sound it produces, and it’s a very “romantic” instrument.

What are your influences in classical music in general?

I listen to lot of Bach, Sor and Giuliani when I was just starting. Later on, I discovered the music of Barrios, Brouwer and Piazzolla. I think Piazzolla’s music greatly influenced me in terms of how I interpret/ perform music.

You have graduated from the University of the Philippines (UP) College of Music. What are your best remembrances during that tenure?

During my years in the university, I did a lot of concerts, as a soloist and with an ensemble. Since it’s a state university, the diversity of students is quite big which enabled me to view things in a wider perspective.

Are you experiencing many younger people coming to your concerts?

I think the classical guitar following in the Philippines is gradually improving. With the help of social media and a lot of guitar aficionados/enthusiast which also helps in promoting events, it’s easier now to let people know of the happenings in the guitar and music scene. Hopefully in the future, we could see the results of all these efforts so that the younger generation of guitarists would have a better situation than the one we had before.

In an era where people are so into electronics and driving, mechanistic beats, is it difficult for people to slow down and sink into the subtlety and nuance of the guitar?

It’s is quite surprising that a lot of people I meet enjoys listening to classical guitar music.  The classical guitar market is small but I think it’s slowly growing. It’s really not that difficult for people to appreciate classical guitar music, we just need to create awareness 
and expose people to it.

Do you have any new experimental music ideas that you wish to pursue with your guitar?

Not really experimental but I would like to write music for guitar based on the music of ethnic groups in the Philippines. It’s my way of promoting the traditional Filipino music that is slowly getting forgotten by the younger generation.


“For me it's always very important that I can be myself and that I am honest.”- Marleen Slot

After working for many years as a producer at Lemming Film, Marleen Slot founded Viking Film in 2011. Marleen studied Communication Science at the University of Amsterdam and specialised in Media Entertainment. In 2007 she attended the EAVE producer’s training and in 2009 she participated in ACE, the workshop and network of European producers. Besides this, she was president of the NFTVM (Association of New Film and Television Makers) from 2008 until 2010 and presently she is a member of the Board of ACE and of the Film Producers Netherlands association. In 2013 she was selected Producer on the Movie during the Cannes Film Festival.  Recently the movie Zurich, directed by Sacha Polak produced by Marleen was screened at the Kolkata International Film Festival. Zurich is a unique, artfully-constructed and narratively-complex road movie. After his death, Nina discovers that her great love, truck driver Boris, had been leading a double life. Struggling with her feelings she commits an almost unforgivable deed and flees. She goes to ground in the anonymous world of motorways and service stations. Once again, she finds herself in a long-distance lorry driver’s bed. He even introduces her to his children, before she ends up back on the road, a woman alone with her grief and unable to express herself — except when she sings. Abhijit Ganguly spoke to Marleen about her journey.

Please tell us about Viking film. What motivated you to start it?

I worked in a bigger production company (Lemming Film) for seven years and felt the time was right to start my own company. I wanted to take more risk and responsibility.

What kind of work/projects are you most interested in?

I am interested in three different kinds of films, on the one hand Arthouse films like Zurich, that have a certain crossover potential and are made not only in the Netherlands but also in the international market. Besides that, I also produce children's films. In the Netherlands there is a big industry for this. And I am also producing animated films, especially stop motion animation. 

What has been the most memorable moment for you so far?

The premiere of ZURICH at the Berlinale was really great.

Did you face any challenges being women in this field?

In the Netherlands it is quite common to be a female producer, but sometimes people think I am a bit young and that can be a challenge.

Marleen at the  Kolkata International Film Festival
What sort of advice would you give a young girl that is interested in following in your footsteps?

I have learned a lot from working in the bigger company and assisting the two producers from that company for a long time. For me it worked very well to take little steps at the time. Starting as an intern and in the end developing myself as a producer. And for me, it's always very important that I can be myself and that I'm involved and honest. I think that is something that will bring you far in life.

What projects are you currently working on?

I am working on a new film with director Sacha Polak, called JADE. And furthermore, I have just shot the feature film MONK.


‘Laban movement analysis leads to the freedom of the artist’ - Martine Kaisserlian

MARTINE KAISSERLIAN - World renowned Contemporary dancer, teacher, and choreographer
After many years of training in France, Martine gained a scholarship from the British Council of Arts for the LABAN Centre in London, which made it possible for her to meet and work with great masters such as  Merce Cunningham, Aaron Osborne as well as Karin Waehner,  and many others. Constantly trying to deepen her knowledge and understanding of these techniques, Martine Kaisserlian developed a work based on fluidity, sensitivity and awareness of the body. She speaks to Abhijit Ganguly during a workshop organized by Rhythmosaic school & dance institute which is affiliated to OFFJAZZ DANCE ACADEMY (Centre de formation professionnelle et d’études supérieures en danse Nice France).

What is movement analysis?

Movement analysis has to do with the body awareness. Dancers are really concerned with the body is the first person to have a direct interest in it. But it can be also part of a therapy for children, disabled adults, through psychosomatic education. The body is the tool for the dancer, and the principal nonverbal communication through movement, gesture and expression.

Movement analysis is like a window opened on the gesture, a lecture of the body for any kind of dance. It came with the first theories and studies led by François Delsarte, Emile Jaques Dalcroze and Rudolf Laban. All of them having new considerations of the dancing body, giving a large part of the torso and the spine, the rhythm, the space, the weight and flow. When Laban began with movement studies, he considered all movements, not only dance: we were in the 1930’s with different gymnastic methods, “a natural movement in a healthy body” (they danced nude in countries and expressed themselves in collective dances with freedom in an open space).

Actually, we use the fundamentals of these methods in contemporary dance: bare feet, free movements, use of the weight through gravity, the dancer is the center of the space, torso and spine being the main points of the movement, all including the relationship or non relationship to music, into a flow which characterizes the dynamic of the dance.
What are the benefits of Laban movement analysis?

Laban studies are based upon two main directions: movement analysis leading to fundamentals for modern dance and labanotation which is a notation system which helps to have written choreographies.

I would not say that only Laban movement analysis is enough, but it is very precise and opened to every kind of context. I studied at Laban Centre and I always use the Laban studies for movement in the teaching, as well as in the transmission of choreography. But in order to have a wider approach, I also had experiences through Feldenkrais, Alexander, Body Mind Centering etc. These techniques are necessary to build a real dialogue between the inside, interiority, and the movement which the dancer gives us to watch.

The body awareness has to deal with space, levels, music and rhythm, gravity, flow, but also with the tension and release of the muscles, the breathing, all to access to a dance with no effort, expressive and leading to the freedom of the artist. 

Does it help in connecting and communicating with the audience better?

We can read the « text » on the bodies. It is also this aspect which is the most important for therapists. For the dance, the group becomes stronger and the audience receives their real involvement.

Can it be applied to Indian dance?

It can be a serious support for increasing the quality, the dynamic, the control of the body, the inside energy and to have a real pleasure to dance, to share with the audience. With Rhythmosaic school and the institute, we try to cross our professional experiences to bring something new.


Mountaineering teaches perspective

Alan Tees, Former  President of Mountaineering, Ireland

Alan is an ex-national President of Mountaineering Ireland. He has done first ascents of numerous rock climbs in Ireland and edited the 2001 rock climbing guide to Donegal. Recently, he was in Kolkata as a guest speaker for the second Sujal Mukherjee Memorial Lecture. Abhijit Ganguly speaks to him.

What has changed from the mountaineering experience, then to how it is now?

Well, the mountains do not change much, except for increased erosion on the more popular peaks, caused by the greater numbers of people using the mountains these days. The commercialization of our sport has resulted in much more specialized equipment and clothing, better on the mountains, but this has also spread to the high street where well known outdoor brands of clothing have become fashionable. The mountain experience will, I hope, continue to be timeless, but there is no doubt that after many years in the mountain ranges of the world, the ‘wow’ factor is more difficult to achieve. Strangely, it can happen somewhere locally, as easily as in one of the places considered the most spectacular on the planet.

Could you share your most memorable incident and the scariest one?

Climbing the Matterhorn, and my first unclimbed peak in the Garwal, both with my son, was special, but the most memorable incidents tend to have been when things didn’t go to plan, and this is when your metal as a mountaineer is tested. Making the right decisions is crucial, to go on, go back, or stay? Usually these situations are caused by weather conditions, or bad planning, but more frequently, a combination of both. One such incident was a retreat from Craig Meagaidh in Scotland, through a band of corniced cliffs in a blizzard (with no visibility whatsoever). The weather was obviously the main problem, but this was compounded by the fact that we had decided not to bring a rope, so the leader would almost certainly die, should our compass bearing be even slightly out! Business, similarly, is subject to external forces, but it is all about making the right decisions, and having the right tools to deal with the situation, that ensures survival in adverse conditions.

What lessons has mountaineering taught you that you apply to other areas of your life?

Mountaineering teaches perspective. We are very small, very temporary creatures. When you are in an exposed situation, with the strong possibility of death, or serious injury, should you make a mistake, all other worries such as job, family relationships, etc., become relatively inconsequential, and you can view them more objectively when you return to your real everyday life.

From the corporate point of view, does adventure travel help with team building skill development and leadership quality enhancement?

Thankfully, the daft idea that putting corporate managers into an alien and hostile environment to aid team building seems to have been finally exposed as a cynical con by a few outdoor providers on a largely gullible commercial sector. Some of our best accountants and managers, superb in the boardroom, are totally unsuited to the wilds, and to force them into that situation seems to me to be a form of abuse, almost worthy of legal action. It may work for certain individuals, but cause irreparable damage to others.

As an international ambassador for mountaineering is there one thing that you want people to know about mountain climbing?

Mountaineering should be enjoyable. It is a very broad sport encompassing many differing activities, and it should be fun. If it isn’t, try something else, or alternatively, you should be able to find something else within the sport to suit you better. And as the years pass, so do your needs and abilities. It is a lifetime sport, and people commonly migrate from rock climbing, or alpinism, to hiking.

I think mountaineering is primarily about people, and the mountain environment provides the canvas on which we paint our shared adventures. It is not about conquering the mountain for personal ego, more that we allow the mountain to conquer us, understanding that the mountain must be respected, protected, and never underestimated. As a businessman, I found the spiritual, non competitive nature of mountaineering a welcome escape from the combative commercial market place.


“I wanted the film to create a discussion about what is good and evil, our daily moral issues and the sacred things which were already alienated”- Emine Emel Balci

Emine Emel Balci was born in Turkey. She holds a degree in cinema and television from the Mimar Sinan Fine Arts University in Istanbul. After working as an assistant director and screenwriter, she made her first short documentary in 2007. In 2011, Emine Emel Balci took part in the Berlinale Talent Campus. Her first feature film Until I Lose my Breath or Nefesim Kesilene Kadar was screened at the Kolkata International Film festival. (Synopsis -Serap, a young woman whose mother is no longer around, works in a textile factory in Istanbul. She longs for her father, a lorry driver, to finally make good on his promise and rent a flat for the two of them. In the meantime, she lives with her sister and her husband. She does everything she can to make sure her wish comes true, saving her wages for her father and allowing herself nothing. Her stubborn perseverance almost reverses the standard parent-child relationship. The daughter is the one who cares and provides, looking after her father and giving him money. She chooses to ignore the fact that he always comes up with new excuses and lies and rejects the more realistic picture that her sister paints of him. Although the camera is always with Serap, we only get to know her and her life gradually, as well as how far she is prepared to go for her wish).

How did your tryst with Film making happen?

I was doing documentary films and I was doing some research in the textile areas. I was planning to make a documentary film of that area. I was also into making women stories before I worked with short films and documentaries. There are lots of women working in the textile areas in Turkey So; I tried to combine the two ideas of making a film about women and industrial area film.

How do you see the present scenario of female filmmaker in Turkey?

In my generation I think there are lots of young female filmmakers who are coming into the film industry with new voices. But of course, there aren’t as many female filmmakers compared to the male filmmakers. But if we keep on going making women stories and try to tell about or discuss about women’s issues in life, it will increase the number of female filmmakers as a whole; it will bring improvement.  

What kind of issues are the filmmakers addressing in Turkey?

Mostly it’s about family. Family issues, nowadays, in new Turkish cinema is a popular issue amongst the independent filmmakers. Since it's a bleeding issue, family relationship and its crookedness are one of the main topics.  

What kinds of issues attract you while you choose to make a film?

There isn’t any specific plan.. Since I know the conflicts and details of women’s life much better than any other things, my main goal is to have strong women’s characters in my films- strong women’s presence. But of course, there are many other issues and themes which also interest me. 

Did any women inspire you?

Many women have inspired me. There is no specific woman who has inspired me in this profession. May be the character in the film is the sum of the all of the women I have known before.

Until I Lose My Breath - Movie Stills
Have you ever faced any kind of discrimination?

You can live with it everywhere in different shapes. It can’t be all the time in a form of physical discrimination or just emotionally. Sometimes you can just feel it. It does not depend who you are or what education background you came from or from which place you come from. I think it is the problem of the system itself. It obviously says man is more important than female, it’s not a very welcoming place for the women.

What has been the most memorable moment for you in this film? 

I think the most interesting moment comes at the end of the film.  The ending was not like it was in the script and in the shooting I discovered that I felt the story comes to an end. It was interesting that end the main character of the film becomes real. It was really interesting for me to witness this.

Your word of advice for aspiring female filmmakers?

Keep working and working! Work until you lose breath. 

What prompted you to make Until I Lose My Breath?

There are personal references in the film, but, also I feel an urge to talk the about issues primarily concern women. While writing the script, I was thinking about the dark side of the loneliness and how it can affect your life and choices; I wanted the film to create a discussion about what is good and evil, our daily moral issues and the sacred things which were already alienated. 

Did you face any challenge while shooting this film?

We made the film in four and a half weeks time and with a small crew, we were challenging the difficulties of making a film in Istanbul streets and chaotic industrial areas with a shoulder held camera. We were chasing the time and running from here to there all the time, which was very tiring for all of us. 

Emine Emel Balci
 the Kolkata International Film Festival 
What do you want your audience to take away from this film?

I would like them to stop and pause after all the chaos and breathlessness of the story and think about what has happened to Serap and what we do to each other.  I think Serap does this in the end shot of the film and decides what will be the next after all. After the film finishes and the lights are on; I would like the audiences think about the same without judging her. 

Any plans to explore the social theme in an upcoming movie, what are the future plans?

I guess I need some time to refresh myself and think about for the next, too. 

How was your experience at the Kolkata international Film festival 2015?

Before coming here we didn’t know we would get to watch so many movies and meet wonderful audience. Film festivals are very important. For instance, you are doing a film in Istanbul and you are screening it in Kolkata for a different kind of audience.  It is nice to see they understand and feel attached to the movie. Audiences were asking us about our culture and the protagonist of the film whom they can empathize.


Mother Tongue with bits of flamenco and tabla thrown in!

Have you ever thought of flamenco dancing with our very own dhak! Usually the two main instruments for flamenco are voice and guitar. But DRUM-N-FLAMENCA stand out as the first-time instance of Bangla dhak and Dhol being played with flamenco dance form. It is a collaboration between BBC award-winning percussionist and music director Abhishek Basu with the internationally acclaimed flamenco dancer and contemporary dance choreographer, Annalouise Paul from Australia.

For Annalouise this trip has been like a hunt for her father’s roots. As she explains, “My father was born in Kolkata. He was a Sephardic Jew. He left India in 1947 and got settled in Australia.” She goes on to say, “Rajasthani gypsies had travelled and settled in Spain, influencing flamenco. There are many similarities between pure Indian music and flamenco.”

Talking about the project Abhishek says, “It’s very interesting how she is promoting flamenco in Australia and kept the purity of flamenco. That was what I was looking for! I thought of classical tabla sound  which can go well with flamenco and wanted to explore. There is a rhythm in flamenco, the Tango, which has a very interesting similarity with the abahon and biswarjon of our traditional dhak.”

Talking about the future of flamenco Annalouise says, “Its journey has been very interesting. During the last 25 years,  it has evolved a great deal. Recently, UNESCO has  endorsed  it  as  an  art  form. Flamenco is not a classical form. But probably it is going in that direction. It needs to advance and go to the next level.”

Annalouise is pretty excited about her latest project,  which is called  Mother Tongue. It is a vibrant kaleidoscope of dance and live music that explores war, cultural tolerance and healing, revealing shifting paradigms and new futures. This highly visual and spectacular work is a collision of dance, rhythm and vocals from Torres Straight Islands, Ghana, Polynesia, North India, flamenco and contemporary body percussion.


" Close your eyes and ask your heart: what is my gift? "- Bai Ling

Pic courtesy - Premendu Bikash Chaki
Bai Ling has the key to success. Do what you are passionate about. If you do that, everything else flows and life is not a struggle. Bai Ling, who has starred in major Hollywood ventures such as "Anna and The King", "Star Wars 3" and Ang Lee's "The Wedding Banquet"  was here as the jury for the KOLKATA INTERNATIONAL FILM FESTIVAL 2015. Abhijit Ganguly spoke to her about her life and journey in Hollywood.

How did you begin acting? Is this something you had dreamt of?

To me everything in life happens naturally, I was very shy, almost mute as a child, I was for some reason fear of life fear of people, but I know I have a beautiful rich universe inside me, there is a power of magic hidden, if I don't find a way to express it, then it will explode. So I have to find a way to express that magic. At that time I didn’t know what it was, but it was a passion to express the raw truth inside of me, a feeling that is so real and strong. I think acting is finding me, it is my path, through playing a character I can actually be me, but hide behind a mask so that other people think it's a character I am playing, but to me it’s a great joy to be true and free, it’s like suddenly a magic child can have her free wings to dance with joy. Because I am the only one know it’s the real me, so I am safe and not afraid.

It's a gift that I have, because I have never learned acting, but it comes so easily, because I just express the truth of how I feel. But the key is that I need to trust myself to know that I have a beautiful gift to give! And the gift we have, it is not for us to keep, but to give.

Bai Ling as lady Tuptim in Anna and the King
Which has been your most cherished roles?

I got many; I would say all of them. Because it is a part of me in all of them, each character gives me the joy to express each part of me. And “Anna and the King " come to my mind now, because I had to shave my hair completely to play the role that was very difficult for me or for any woman. As a girl's hair does so much for us, into protecting us, make us feel beautiful and safe, but when you have no hair then you are totally naked, yes talk about the nakedness, I would encourage every woman in the world to try to shave your hair once in your life, then you will know what I went through and what kind of magic strength and power I gain and realized that I actually have. Then you will understand the power and strength you actually have, otherwise you would never know. The pure nakedness is powerful.

I become totally vulnerable, therefore I become totally powerful and almost larger than life. It was the requirement that I have to first purify myself in order to play her role, then the road becomes possible to freely access the pure feeling of the power of pure love I have in my heard for the heart, that is what I give to my Character Toptim. Many people cried for her, because she gives you her heart, the true love. And the truth always has magic in it.

What challenges you in a role?

Pic courtesy - Premendu Bikash Chaki
Almost nothing, as I express to you earlier, acting come easily because I am not acting. I think the challenge will be if there is any that will be: if I trust myself enough that at any moment I can open myself completely to give the truth to my character, if I can trust myself 100 percent. If I trust, then I can do almost anything with any character I play.

I played the roles that are originally written for a man, I played a character that is originally written for A white woman, the leading role in the film “The Key”. Then I have just finished a Chinese film called " lord of Shanghai " I play the lead female character from the age 28 years old till she is 80 years old. It is all because I completely trust myself and let my magic open my wings to fly, and to sing and dance.

Where do you draw your strength from, in moments of challenge?

Trust, totally trust! In order to meet my potential and give my magic. Because only the magic truth can conquer the challenge. To do that you have to first totally free your mind to allow your heart take Controls, once you let the mind go, then you become the magic tool, and then everything becomes possible.

I would say our mind is our greatest enemy almost in everything we do. Trust and believe that you are born to do this, and then the challenge then becomes the joyful steps that you are happy to take.

Pic courtesy - Premendu Bikash Chaki
One piece of advice for struggling actresses, who like you, have no industry insider to jump start their careers?

I love this question, because it comes to the root of doing everything. I think in anything you do and want to and can be successful, you have to find if that thing you do is the passion in your heart, that means if you have the real talent for the things you want to do. If you want to be an actor, you have to know first of all, if you have the talent, natural talent, I believe everyone has their special talent to make them successful, I am talking about the special gift that everyone come to earth has that special gift only belongs to them, if you find that gift, know what that is, then does not matter what that is, either you are a chef or a doctor or an actor, you will be successful, because that is your gift, its meant to be. Only you have a gift to give, then you will receive a gift, then that gift you receive is your success.

So try this, close your eyes and ask your heart: what is my gift? What is the thing that makes me passionate and happy and excited to give to the world, not the things you want? If you just want the fame or money, then probably you will never find the success that you wanted. Cause all the fame, money are the reward for what you do and give, it can come also it can be gone, only the things you do and do the best, then no one can take it away, that means you will always have the success that you want and deserve. Like myself, I actually don’t know what the fame is like in Hollywood, I got nothing when I come to Hollywood, not even speak English, but I know I have a gift to give, and I am so excited about what that. It’s like a little girl she got nothing and totally naked and walking on her little bare foot in the dark alone, and suddenly a bright moon appeared to guide her. It is because I am here to give my talent, not trying to get something. So find your heart’s passion and gift, then give that, and then I guarantee you will be very successful and very happy.

  Pic Courtesy @realbailing instagram - Bai Ling at Kolkata International film festival
How was your experience at the Kolkata film festival?

I love the City of Kolkata, so beautiful, I want to thank The Kolkata international film festival for inviting me as an international jury member.

I had such a wonderful time as a jury, watched 11 beautiful movies from all over the world, not only I give what I know, also feel and learned a lot from those movies. I enjoyed getting to know our Jury member guests and our film festival local people, they are all wonderful, I felt such a delight, generous spirit, and the film festival took very good care of me made my stay in Kolkata so pleasant. So for that I am grateful.

But not only that, because of the festival, I had free time and went all of the city saw so many beautiful temples and experienced the local culture, and felt the spiritual gift the land of India has, it’s like I feel its soul connected with me, it gives me such a joy and feel blessed that I was there. I went to where India’s great writer Rabindra Nath Tagore ’s home, where he lived and taught, such a soulful and brave man, I still remember his soulful eyes, there is a bright light coming through. And also I went to Mother Teresa ’s house, such a tiny little house, but so clean and humble, I stood there for a long time, in the sweet quietness, I feel her presence, how a little lady yet so magical, I could imagine how hard her road must be, and how much strength, love and faith she must have.

I am so grateful for the Kolkata film festival for giving me the opportunity to experience India’s beautiful gifts. Last, I always give cookie on my social media @realbailing on Twitter and Instagram, today’s cookie is: Give and forgive. I learned The English word by word, these 2 words can solve any problems in your life.


Musical experiments and technology aid creativity

                                                                     Saad Chowdhury
Born in the UK, Saad traveled to the US, Luxembourg and Zambia before settling in Bangladesh in 1998. He has been working as a pianist and bass guitarist, performing both eastern and western music. He is also working as a producer and an engineer, with both studio and live sound. He has composed the background score for one of the episodes of Al Jazeera’s ‘Witness’ programme on Bangladesh’s Cholera Wars. He works with film maker Oniket Alam and their films, notably The Professionals, have been featured in film festivals abroad. He took part in a music ensemble that opened for Zakir Hussain and Bela Fleck in early 2013. The man in question is Saad Chowdhury. Saad spoke to Abhijit Ganguly on the sidelines of his performance with Seth Panduranga Blumberg, Mainak ‘bumpy’ Nag Chowdhury, Gaurab ‘Gaboo’ Chatterjee and Bodhisattwa Ghosh in association with ROOH MEDIA Pvt. Ltd.

The present scenario of contemporary music in Bangladesh...

From what I see, there are two distinct veins: First, those that take Bangladesh’s traditional regional musical influences, like instrumentation, melody, and rhythms, and incorporate these into their own framework, for example, a rock band with a Dhol player modernizing Lalon Fakir’s songs, a folk band with acoustic guitars playing original music, a party band playing Rabindrasangeet with tabla, digital keyboards, electric guitars and octapad drums. Second, those that takes influences from a more ‘Western’ musical background, sometimes completely bypassing traditional Bengali folk element. So, for an extreme example, you would perhaps see a metal band that sounds totally inspired by Iron Maiden, Metallica and Megadeth, but singing in Bangla. I also think that studio software, computers/iPad music apps/the ‘home music-making’ brand of affordable technological products are influencing Bangladesh’s production quality, and the way songs are crafted. I have been hearing little things creeping into the music over a period of a few years like auto-tuned vocals, sampled drums, and stuff like that.

Saad with Seth Panduranga Blumberg
Music has been transformed so much by technology in recent times…

I guess you could say that the volume of data these machines can handle coupled with the speed at which they can operate means that there is some really smart, intuitive software available now to aid the creation of music, be it a studio DAW template like Logic or Reason, or a downloadable analog synth emulator for an IPad.

There’s been a marked shift in commercial thinking in recent decades away from making what people want, to making people want what is being sold…

I think that’s always been there. As long as there have been musicians looking for gigs to play and other people thinking, “I can make some money out of this,” the commercial aspect has existed. Perhaps in the short term, the music industry worldwide has had to reshuffle, how it makes a profit collectively in a Napster-inspired world of downloading music. So, may be for a large record company, it could be a safer investment for them to bank on a mega-star who is making music that entertains millions of people all over the world across language and cultural barriers for instance, rather than a really unique ensemble, who perhaps is pushing more boundaries than the mega-star sonically/ politically/ socially, but may be a riskier sell to justify on the annual budget table. Again, these arguments have always been there, and always will be. I think the message is true every- where that as a musician, just be true to yourself and follow your own compass, not any accountant’s. I am not saying that you can’t make a living off your music, just saying that you don’t have to play what other people are telling you to play against your will.

An increase in the number of shows of Bangladeshi artists in India will strengthen the bonds between these two countries…

I would like to think so. We just have to keep it going, and keep it all about the music.


“Do really what you love and don’t lose hope ever”- Máša Málková

 Máša Málková at Kolkata International film festival
Recently the film Fotograf / Photographer by Irena Pavlásková was screened at the Kolkata International Film Festival. The film inspired from the life of renowned photographer and celebrity Jan Saudek. It focuses on the maestro's relationships with women, specifically the devoted Liba, who enjoys subtle yet complete control over Jan. In addition to numerous indelicate scenes, the brief flashbacks also reveal Jan's ill-fated past, including conflicts with the police and state security agents and a nightmare from his childhood.  Abhijit Ganguly spoke to actress Máša Málková, who played the female lead in the film.

                                                                                     pic courtesy ceskatelevize.cz - Fotograf Movie stills
How did your tryst with acting happen?

I went to a conservatory school. I always loved poetry, theatre plays and one very famous Czech actor Czech actress inspired me to become an actress. It’s a dream for me to become like him or her.

What interests you in a role?

The story interests me. I need to understand the character. Then it is easy to play the character. The traits of the character let me go inside the role I play.

How was your experience working in Photographer?

In this film, the role was a challenging one. It’s a big part for me to play- from a poor girl, step by step she becomes a very dangerous lady. There is a lot of scope for me to play different shades of the character.

Being women, did you feel any kind of discrimination?

I don’t feel differentiation between man and female. But I speak about Czech Republic, or about Europe.

How do you see the film industry in Czech?

There is more freedom now. We were with Communism and many things were prohibited. There was lots of censorship. It’s very free and our industry cooperates with the European Union.

How was your experience being here for the Kolkata International Film Festival 2015?

It’s an honor for me to be here. I love India. I will spend two and half months in India this summer. I travel here a lot.

Your word of advice for aspiring actresses?

Be patient. I visited the Mother House here where I saw one of her quotes-“Do small things with great love.” So everything  what you do  be patient, do it step by step and do really what you love and don’t lose hope ever.

Máša Málková, co actor karel roden  and Director Irena Pavlásková  
How did you prepare for the role in the movie Photograph? Was there much research you had to do?

In the screenplay there was everything what I needed. And also our Director, she was excellent. She was also scriptwriter cooperated with Jan Saudek-the photographer and she knew exactly what she wants in this movie. It was nice to meet her I appreciate it. She is a great person.

What would be your dream role? 

I would like to be surprised. For me is better to don`t imagine my dream role, because then come the expectation for and if the role doesn’t come then come for sure a disappointment. So what will come into my life come and I look forward to any kind of role.


The future of the music industry lies in streaming services

                                                                                        Ron “Bumblefoot” Thal
Ron is an American guitarist, songwriter, recording artist and producer. Ron is also the lead guitarist of Guns N Roses band. He speaks to Abhijit Ganguly on the sidelines of The Festival Chapter III in Kolkata produced by E365 Media Solutions.

Where does the future of music lie - in downloads or in streaming services?

The future of music lies in streaming. It lies in universal complete access. Anything that can be digitized and streamed, can and will be streamed.

What is your view about social media as a tool to publish and promote your music?

It is the tool. YouTube is your muscle. Twitter is your mouth. Facebook is just that, a face - a hub for the exchange of the senses. In my opinion, Facebook needs to simplify it a bit and stay simple - the next time people have to un-learn and re-learn it may be the last time. 

What do you think the music industry will look like   in ten years?

There will be an emphasis on tracking and    compensating content creators and owners within environments of open usage. Technically, I can see a more interactive streaming multimedia consisting of multi-channel audio mixes at higher bit-rates, holographic video players with 360-degree angle views, users being able to mix the audio channels as they choose and adjust storyboards of video.

What is your take on online piracy and illegal file-sharing problems?

I like the ability to share – the part I am not comfortable with is that I am excluded from any decisions about sharing my own work. My take on it is this: the music industry should not have feared new technology and made enemies of the people using it. It should have embraced it and integrated with it. When the industry treated the consumers like villains, it destroyed itself.

What is your biggest advice for an independent musician?

I have three pieces of business advice. First, look at the present and also look ahead. Whatever your favourite band did to succeed, it did it in the way that was current for it. Don’t do what it did, don’t seek out that big old-school record deal and try to live a nostalgic fantasy. Do what works for you now, that enables you to take your next step forward. Second, be creative with what you have, don’t waste time seeking the things you don’t. If you think you need an investor to give you a USD 1,000,000 and don’t have the managerial skills to make good use of USD 100 you do have, you will blow through that million with little to show for it. Build your ability to make the most of whatever you have. Your creativity is your currency.

Third, put away money for your future, starting now. Being an independent musician is being a business owner, the business of “you”. Protect the future of your employees and have the sustainability to keep making your product. If you’re young, pick something slow, steady and safe - and diverse - for decades of growth, let the dividends keep re-investing. Don't use it as a current   tax shelter. Pick a type of retirement account that doesn’t tax your withdrawals when it has accrued, if this option is available to you. Protect your future.


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