Durga Durga

[Inspired by this article in the Telegraph about sponsorship strategies of Durga Pujas including a Puja committee that has sold all branding rights to an US company and another that has a promotional music video and about Zee Bangla coming up with the ultimate business plan, telecasting live the beautiful people at Maddox Square, my field of Pujo dreams.]

Setting: A Puja committee meeting, somewhere in Kolkata. Circa 2010.

Sujit-da (Mamata-fan and president of Puja committee) : Nontu, so have the people from Sheyal TV Bangla (Fox TV’s Bangla venture) sent in the 30 lac check for the Pujo sponsorship?

Nontu, secretary: Sujit-da this year we decided to do things a little bit differently. Do you remember Habla?

Sujit-da: Of course how can I not remember Habla? A Jadavpur engineer but still so committed to the cause. During the Singur andolon, he was a front-line warrior with us, beating up the people who tried to enter the plant. I still remember Habla standing in the afternoon sun, throwing stones at the Nano plant and shouting Tata-Bye Bye. So what about him?

Nontu: Well after the Singur andolon, he joined Tata Consultancy Services as a business analyst and then went to US. There he did an MBA or something and has opened a marketing consultancy of his own in Manhattan. When he heard that we had given Sheyal TV Bangla exclusive sponsorship last year, he was pretty upset.

Sujit-da: Why has Sheyal TV Bangla said something against Didi, (dubious) PhD? Do we have to go and break some chairs and computers at the Sheyal TV Bangla office?[Getting up]

Nontu: No no not that. He feels that we should sell rights of different parts of the Pujo to different commercial entities. He called it “more bling bling”. He seemed so knowledgeable that we have decided to give the Puja rights to his firm and he will sell it out to different companies. He says we can get lots more money that way.

Sujit-da: (a bit worried): I don’t know….how much more?

Nontu: Sixty lacs he says. Double of last time.

Sujit-da: The problem with corporate sponsorship is that they make us do so many compromises. For instance, I have been wanting to do Ma Durga-r face in the image of Mamata-didi and the Asura with 2 heads—Ratan Tata and Buddhadeb Bhattacharya but every time Sheyal TV has shot my idea down. I am sure even this time…

Nontu: Come on Sujit-da. Be rational. I know that we owe a Didi a lot —after all had not Didi made all industries leave Bengal, we wouldn’t have such beautiful open spaces to have our Puja pandals.

But come on, even then we cannot just put Didi’s face on Ma Durga ! If we do, how will we ever get “Red Bull” Sarad Somman, which you know has strong CPM connections? We have a big tradition for Ma Durga’s face—-Deepika Padukone, Jessica Simpson and Angelina Jolie. Surely we cannot compromise on that?

If you insist, we will put Didi’s picture on Kolabou (Ganesha’s wife depicted by a banana-branch covered by a white sari)….

Sujit-da: Okay okay….whatever. So what does Habla recommend we do?

Nontu: Well first of all, he has negotiated a sweet deal with the Sheyal TV guys. This year they will pay 20 lacs but for that they only get rights for putting the television cameras in front of our pandal and not exclusive sponsorship like last time. Nontu talked to the Sheyal TV people and advised them to be more upfront with its promotion of their program—no more “Sharod dorshon” (Durga Puja “darshan”) like last time which he felt didn’t quite convey the message.

Sujit-da: Not convey the message?

Nontu: Yes. This time he recommends calling it “Bari theke Jhari” (Ogle From Home). The message is simple—why come and jostle with the thousands to catch a glimpse of the boudi in a backless blouse or didimoni in a tight kameez, all the time pretending to be watching the idol, when you can sit at home, open a packet of Lay’s chips and ogle in peace. Of course every 15 seconds the camera will cut away to an image of Ma Durga so that when thakuma (grandmother) comes into the room, she will not know what you are doing.

Sujit-da: Sounds good. What about this year’s music video? Can I dance in it this time? I have lost 4 Kgs since last October. And I have even started dyeing my hair.

Nontu (hesitantly): Actually Sujit-da why don’t you do it next year? This year Sheyal TV has already conceptualized the promotional music video. There will be Bangla mega-star Prosenjit dancing with a bunch of models from Uzbekistan, all clad in traditional Bangali white-sari-with-red-border(lal paar sari) to the tune of ” Jibonto Protima Darshan” (seeing live goddesses), which Habla says succinctly conveys our Pujo’s USP. Not sure yet but Sheyal TV says they can get Himesh Reshammiya to sing the song. If that doesn’t work out, we always have Aneek Dhar. Or the man whose claim to fame is that he sings “Kajra Re ” and Sachin Dev Burman songs perfectly in a female voice.

Sujit-da: Sounds good. So what about the rest of the sponsorship?

Nontu: Habla has another idea here. Get individual corporate sponsorships for each God. For instance, Lord Ganesh will be sponsored by Dr. Sen’s Weight Loss Clinic, Laxmi Devi will be sponsored by Vyasa Bank, Sharma IIT classes have expressed interest in sticking a flier on Saraswati Devi’s head and Lord Kartik will get a deal from Raymonds.

Each of these sponsorships for approximately 5 lacs.

For 10 lacs, Ma Durga rights have been sold to Kolkata Knight Riders. In exchange, Ma Durga will wear a KKR golden helmet, her trident will be replaced by a stump, the Asura will look like Salman Khan (who as you know is Knight Riders owner Shahrukh Khan’s sworn enemy) and the slogan “Korbo Lorbo Jeetbo Re” will be written in a semi-circular fashion behind Ma’s head.

Sujit-da: Excellent. So will Mithun-da be the brand ambassador of this year’s Pujo also?

Nontu: Slight problem. Mithun-da is associated with the ICL. If he is there, Kolkata Knight Riders will withdraw sponsorship. Plus Mithunda might insist that Lord Ganesha’s face be modeled on Mimoh’s with the Asura wearing a T-shirt that says “Am I a rejected person?”

Sujit-da: Ha Ha good joke. I still remember thirty years ago, when I was a kid, Sukhen Das wearing a jean jacket covering his paunch would inaugurate the Pujo. In any case, if not Mithun-da then who?

Nontu: We might try Rituporna..

Sujit-Da: No no are you crazy? Not that……em…. man ! He is always obsessed with bodily fluids, be it urine or other things of a periodic nature….how can we have him as part of a Pujo..

Nontu: I mean Rituporna and not Rituporno.

Sujit-Da: Ooh good.

Nontu: In addition, we have the usual sponsorships for food-stalls, the Grihini (housewife) Games every afternoon, basically everything we had last year.

Rathin-da (60 years old Vice President): Call me an old stick but is this Pujo?This seems to be a gigantic corporate enterprise—where is the personal touch, the feeling of community and togetherness, the simple joys of Pujo?

Sujit-Da: Rathin-da, you don’t understand things have changed….

Rathin-Da: I know I know. You guys have it so easy. In our days, we had to fight for every paisa as we went from para (street) to para begging for chanda (subscriptions). I remember writing fake receipts from last year and shouting at people saying “You had paid Rs 500 last year. Why not this year” even when we knew the poor guy moved in a few months ago.

And then there were the turf wars with Four Friends Boys Club with pipes and hockey sticks and hours spent standing on the main road, often in the pouring rain, stopping trucks and collecting “Ma Durga” tax.

Aah those days.

Things were so simple and personal.

Intimidating the Chatterjee widow for Rs 100, vandalizing that miser Dr. Sarkar’s car every year—sometimes slashing his tires, sometimes scratching his bonnet with Gold Spot caps, peeing on the door of that crazy ass Pandey, puncturing the rice sacks of old Lalaji. I still remember the look of hurt and anguish on the face of the people when we would armtwist subscriptions —ah the spirit of the Pujos.

Nowadays you guys snap your fingers and so much money comes from these faceless corporate behemoths who don’t even beg and plead and grovel. Where is the fun?

Nontu: Yes those old days sure sound good. But then again Rathin-da, as you know times have changed, some may say for the better.

Wait, that’s my cellphone….seems to be Habla from Manhattan….what ? We got Himesh? And what? Wow ! Hey Sujit-da hear this. We got Rakhi Sawant for Hayward’s 5000 Bhashan naach (“immerson dance”)? No kidding………

50 thoughts on “Durga Durga

  1. First one to comment 🙂
    now will read the post

  2. Do I dare follow suit for the first time in my life (and I promise the last time). Doing a stupid thing like commenting on a blog before reading it can be truly a life-changing experience, but only once is enough.

  3. As usual, stinging satire…

  4. Excellent post! Feeling the first whiffs of Pujo already. Only 20 more days to go home to Kolkata! (Bari theke jhari was classic! But there’s no substitute to being there).

  5. too good!!! haywards 5000 bhashan naach!!!

  6. Maddox Square …..OMG … my mouth is watering already ….damn …

  7. Brilliant humor/satire/social commentary as always.

  8. Look up this Simpsons episode sometime “She of Little Faith”. Season 13.

  9. There are other benefits of “Bari theke jhari”. If the terrorists want to participate in Puja in their own way, you are safe in your home.

  10. uuff!! fatafati, classic gb! shotti post ta pore mone hoche pujo esheyi gelo. onek din badey pujoy bari jachi, thanks gb for bringing a whiff of nostalgia. ar jhari ta bari theke noy ebar direct maddox ey bosheyi marbo. 🙂

  11. Although a part of india is headed the commercial way…but refreshingly a part is also headed for the better…-http://goodnewsindia.com/index.php/Magazine/story/elango-kuthambakkam

    The story really moved me, grit and determination can change; ‘change’ too.

    More here – http://goodnewsindia.com/

  12. Arnab, f***ing brilliant stuff as always man…Lord above…tht line abt KKR sponsoring was madness!!

  13. Awesome post…best was “baari theke jhari” seriously thats a novel idea with terror squads on prowl..nevertheless bringing back the memories…

  14. in my para, nabomi raat after 11 is disco to dhhaaker bol.
    sponsor : maa lokkhhi jewellary house.

  15. ohh, I hope I’ll be able to ogle virtually from my Noida residence as well, eh! but, getting sponsorship for Ganesha idol from a weight loss clinic is too good!

  16. A whiff of fresh air, after the previous post. But seriously,how about a Dayal Baba (http://video.google.com/videoplay?docid=5878976531153965241) event?

  17. Funny, as always.

    Mamata Khatoon’s fans deign to be on the Durga Puja committee? Tsk..Tsk…what is the world coming to these days?

    Shouldn’t they be aping Bengal’s resident Miss. “Ugly Aur Paagli” – who is busy wearing a ghomta and offering namaaz somewhere? Fufura Sharif yesterday; Singur today.

    Click on this link, to see a priceless photograph of our beloved Mamata Khatoon doing what she does best:


  18. Ouch! Vintage GB stuff!

  19. aylamrin @: “A whiff of fresh air, after the previous post.”

    Hi Nirmalya …oops… aylamrin,

    The previous post by GB on the New Delhi bomb blasts was “stale”, by comparison?

    Please clarify.

  20. Why does Telegraph have a picture of Mithun in the ‘Budget’ insert ?!

    LOL @

    here will be Bangla mega-star Prosenjit dancing with a bunch of models from Uzbekistan, all clad in traditional Bangali white-sari-with-red-border(lal paar sari) to the tune of ” Jibonto Protima Darshan” (seeing live goddesses), which Habla says succinctly conveys our Pujo’s USP.

    Reminds me of this ad (partly NSFW)

  21. Okay, now will someone peel me off the floor and do some CPR!
    Seriously though, brilliant. Brilliant.
    *Goes off to laugh in a corner*

  22. haha, dude that was awesome!
    And where do you get these links??? @ the guy who can sing kajra re!!

  23. @bengal voice
    LOL …“Ugly Aur Paagli” ….i want someone to make a collage and video over youtube…for didi she has given so many priceless looks …smiles…just scan telegraph or see the local tv news channel .

  24. “Bari theke jhari” is up there in the Top 10 Great Bong-isms.

    Oh boy, I am going to Cal on the 3rd and after reading this I can’t wait to get there.

    Thanks Arnab.

  25. “Bri theke jhari” – Classic!

  26. Rathin Da forgot to add that with the collected money there was lot of drinking which always goes well with the dance in immersion procession 🙂

    Very nice satire. Loved it.

  27. This one was just too good. “Bari theke Jhari” – thats priceless! So funny, yet so true. I think non-bongs may not get the perspective for all the satires discussed over here,- but we surely do.

    “Hayward’s 5000 Bhashan naach” – how do you come up with these!!

  28. sid...no more the kid September 17, 2008 — 12:21 pm

    GB— I remember when I was in Cal,I was also bullied ( though in a smooth and sophisticated manner) to get the company I was working for to advertise in the Puja Souvenir mag..sometimes to such an extent that I used to put a grand from my own pocket as sponsorship for a quarter page, whenever I could not manage a back cover or full-page from company petty cash . This wasof course over and above the chandaa.. :((
    But the rewards were equally sweet.. community lunches at the pandal with neighbours and dinners delivered home. And what heavenly food..Khichuri, fish fry and what not… I kinda miss Puja

  29. sid...no more the kid September 17, 2008 — 12:28 pm

    i must add that the dada-giri always was without intimidation and more of honey-tongued persistance. The boys were always polite and friendly.During the puja they would comeand call us for te pushpanjali, deliver the prasad and food to our apartment , help my mom and wife in their darshan even during the rush time…. the experience was superb and so far i have never seen a better way of community bonding anywhere in India. I think it was the first Durga Puja that we had since moving to cal which had helped us make friends in the neighbourhood and get to know the people in the locality. After the Puja was over, the friendships continued—we started getting invited to family functions and there was always help from the guys for everything– voter if card , ration card, getting a plumber, depositing phone bills etc
    Amazing how a 4 day festival makes life so much fun for rest of the year!!!

  30. @Bengal Voice: Oh no no, I never meant that. The first post that I read was the Hottie Bong one and since then I try not to miss *any* of his posts. (I missed the US presidential elections though). So its the sarcasm and humour and the chance to LMAO after a day’s hard work is what brings me back to Arnab_da’s blog…and the thing is that already everyone is so upset about these untimely Diwali (err, Bakri Eid, to be more correct) that I become kind of asphyxiated when I feel that we can only sit and watch. Not really used to this kind of Read Only view of life, am I? So then comes these posts like a breath of fresh air… 🙂

  31. Hi aylamrin,

    Thanks for clarifying. 🙂

    Why do you write that “we can only sit and watch”?

  32. I meant to say we sit in front of the TV & watch. There are a few of us who are unfortunate enough to be witnesses. I think they would stand and watch instead.

  33. This was a lovely post, and I daresay your best post in recent times!

  34. aye re chute aye pujor gondho esheche….what a way to bring in the pujo’s. tobe guru bari theke jhari-ta marte parlam na…have to make eye contact 😉

  35. aylamrin @: “I become kind of asphyxiated when I feel that we can only sit and watch”

    Please don’t mind me asking you one simple question in a innocent, child-like way (not as a smart ass):

    “What prevents you (who sits in front of the TV and feels asphyxiated) from standing up and doing your bit to prevent the downward spiral?” 🙂

  36. Great post, I love this style of narration.

  37. Those good old days indeed. The Pujo organizing club in my Mom’s village is called Durgashri Club. The witty village wags used to refer to it as the Ganja-shri Club.

    But as the member of a family that pays chanda to – get this – four different Pujos in Delhi and whose Mom is a lifelong (though rather inactive ) member of the committee for one of the biggest Pujos in the city – I’d say that a balance between the two is a good thing.

    I like the fact that the chanda arm=twisting has gone down tremendously in recent years, but it really wasn’t arm-twisting but persistent prodding by a bunch of kakus and kakimas. But the corporate sponsorship has just gone insane. One year, I was completely shocked to find that at my favourite Pujo in Delhi, the sponsor booths had taken over the pandal to such an extent that the idols had been pushed to a corner where they were practically invisible.

    I wonder, if this bothers an agnostic like me, why aren’t the apparently religious folks who organize these Pujos bothered by such crass commercialization?

  38. Great posting.

    Prosenjit dancing with Uzbek girls (in laal-paar sari) was imagination at its hilarious best.

    This is one time in the year when all probasi bongs feel nostalgic with capital “N”.

    Specially those bongs who slave away in the land of Uncle Sam trading their sweat for a green card/citizenship. Although when Uncle Sam’s election time approaches in November, they get involved deriding the politics of their country of birth ‘cos Unca Sam do not give them the right to vote.

    Keep it up, GB. The quality of satire in a xpat Bong’s writing has never been so good.

  39. hehe, Satire at its best!! I wont be surprised if this actually happens!! Close, atleast!

  40. awesome…cant stop laughing and really regretting the simple delights of a para pujo handled by a handful of families. Miss the simplicity and the dedication.

    Having grown up in Northern India Pujo was one time when my being a bengali and not someone else got reinforced each year.

  41. Okay Greatbong can I use this for the para play this year ? We’re sick of the usual scripts .

  42. @ Deeps – yes it does – Kolkata is full of these hoardings at street corners naming the Puja and what they call the “sponsorers”.

  43. Oh man, we got a masterpiece here. One of the best I have read from your blog. And what better timing could it be — I’m going home to Kolkata to see Pujo after quite a few years and this post just sets the mood right.

    “Bari theke Jhari” — oh yeah, why didn’t anyone think of that till now?

  44. Excellent article! Have missed Pujas for four years in a stretch. But it’s shuddering to think that it may soon turn into this!


  45. Excellento 🙂

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  47. Bari thheke jhhari was totaal fundoo. ROTFL.

  48. have been a reader of your blog for the last 2 years, but this is my first comment. This post is one of the finest to come out from your melagne of satires……….was rolling with laughter in the office, akhon bhison pete betha korche…….cant stop giggling even after 30 mins !!

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