cultural capital of India

Is Kolkata Still the Cultural Capital of India?

Think of Kolkata, and the frames that pop up are of trams, yellow taxis, the majestic Howrah Bridge, and the vibrant cultural diversity of the city soaked in music, art, literature, theatre, the ‘adda’ culture — and Kolkata’s very own, Durga Puja. No wonder, the city of joy has earned the title of ‘The Cultural Capital of India’! For ages, Kolkata has been enriched by the finest breed of free thinkers, visionaries, and cultural luminaries, who mesmerized the world with their works in various artistic fields, and continue to do so.

Lately, Kolkata has become one of the prime location for aspiring homeowners. The city was ranked 7th among India’s top 10 realty hotspots, according to a Rediff report. While affordability is a key factor for Kolkata’s real estate growth, its culture is definitely a part of the attraction. So what makes Kolkata the ‘The Cultural Capital of India’? Let’s explore.

The Illustrious Literary Heritage of Kolkata

The 19th century literary genius like Tagore, Sarat Chandra Chattopadhyay, Michael Madhusudan Dutt, Bankim Chandra Chattopadhyay, Kazi Nazrul Islam, fascinated India and the world with their literary charm and mysticism. Their work inspired the country’s revolutionary movement and provided food for thought to many.

The legacy of these intellectuals was carried forward by a new breed of poets and writers like Buddhadeb Guha, Shakti Chattopadhyay, Samaresh Majumdar, Sunil Gangopadhyay, and the likes of Mahasweta Devi, Shirshendu Mukhopadhyay, Sharadindu Bandyopadhyay, Shankha Ghosh, Joy Goswami, etc who augmented the city’s cultural heritage with modern and varying concepts.

The City’s Absorbing Adda Culture

‘Adda’, which means debates and discussions in Bengali, is an intellectual high loved and cherished by the city and its people. The debates can be wide-ranging — from cricket to politics, movies, literature, music, and of course, the Kolkata football derby.

The rich flavour of Kolkata’s adda culture can be truly experienced in the revamped 1876 Albert Hall, now known as the Coffee House. The cafe, once frequented by personalities like Satyajit Ray, Mrinal Sen, Narayan Gangopadhyay, and Ritwik Ghatak, today hosts the new generation scholars, artists, editors, and writers like Aparna Sen, Goutam Ghosh, Joy Goswami, and Amartya Sen.

The Coffee House in College Street, opposite Presidency College, provides Kolkata its intellectual vibrancy that shaped numerous cultural and political movements even to this day.

Art Galleries and Film Venues

Thriving art galleries and exhibition centres find their place in the southern part of the city where paintings, photography, sculptures, and artwork of eminent national and international artists are put on display for viewers.

The state-owned movie complex, inaugurated by legendary Oscar-winning filmmaker Satyajit Ray, is Nandan. The complex, now a host to the Kolkata International Film Festival (KIFF), is a favourite hangout spot of the city, close to the Academy of Fine Arts, India’s oldest art gallery noted for its rare collection of paintings and artefacts.

Kolkata’s Bollywood Connection

Kolkata’s affair with Bollywood started way back in 1931 with the New Theatres. New Theatres, the pioneer of ‘playback’ in India, was formed by Birendranath Sircar, which later revolutionized Indian cinema with new technologies and innovative concepts. Kolkata’s connection with Bollywood is still up and buzzing with new talents like Srijit Mukherjee, Sujoy Ghosh, Anurag Basu, and Shoojit Sircar dominating the scene with many others.

Iconic actor Amitabh Bachchan, during the Kolkata film festival, acknowledged the role of Bengal in Indian cinema and said “The contribution made by Bengal to Indian cinema has been absolutely enormous. Eminent directors like Hrishikesh Mukherjee, Bimal Roy, Nitin Bose started their careers from Kolkata before moving to Mumbai.”

“Novels like Sarat Chandra Chattopadhyay’s ‘Devdas’ Bengali literature provided a rich and fertile ground for many screenplays”, he added.

Events and Religious Festivities

It’s always festival time in Kolkata but the grandest and brightest of all is the Durga Puja. The city, during the Pujas, goes into a frenzy with millions of people hitting the street, “pandal-hopping,” shopping, and enjoying the diverse culinary culture of the city — from street-side delicacies to fine dining.

Besides, the local clubs and associations, Kolkata’s housing complexes offer a great opportunities for people of all caste, creed, and religion to absorb the vigorous cultural activities of the city. Be it Tagore’s birthday, Poila Boishakh (the Bengali New year), Holi or Diwali — residents of housing complexes and apartments come together to celebrate every festival with passion.

Kolkata’s Real Estate: A Mix of Old-World Charm and Urban Amenities

Considered as the intellectual and cultural epicentre of the county, this former capital of British India boasts of a mix of colonial-era architecture with urban skyscrapers and swanky air-conditioned shopping malls. Being the largest cultural, commercial and educational hub in Eastern India, Kolkata has witnessed steady transformation over the past decade. Kolkata’s old-world charm combined with recent infrastructural and economic progress which makes the city a coveted spot for people wanting to reside in a culturally-rich environment. Plus, a surge in upscale and affordable housing projects in recent times are drawing NRIs, professionals, and retirees alike to the City of Joy.

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