The One Liner

Know About Bengal and its Unparalleled Legacy of Art And Culture.

Diptaraj Bhaduri

January 21 2023. 4 minute Read

Bengal is a land of people who are highly passionate about learning new things and expanding their knowledge. Art and Culture have been integral to Bengal’s identity from the 7th century to today. Nearly every person in Bengal gets associated with writing, singing, dancing, or painting. Here in West Bengal, people love to pursue other hobbies. A hobby that is often related to art.

West Bengal is the home of Intellectuals

Bengal has always been a home of intellectuals where Education has been the priority of all. Bengal has produced geniuses in every field, from literature to economics or science to politics. During the Mephistophelian(immoral or evil) British rule over the land of India, Bengali intellectuals started their war against the cruel empire using their pen as a sword, and the most notable writer among them is – Kazi Nazrul Islam, who is also known as the Rebel Poet. His attacking poems on the government even landed him in jail, but nobody could not stop the fire burning inside him. But not only by poems and literature, but Bengal is also the land of great freedom fighters like Surya sen, Khudiram bose, Binay, Badal, Dinesh, Pritilata Waddedar, and Netaji Subhash Chandra Bose. 

shubhas chandra bose
Subash Chandra Bose

Netaji Subhash Chandra Bose was one of the most important figures behind the Independence of India. His bravery and leadership skills have always inspired crores of Indians. Netaji was one of those few Indians who cracked the ICS exam in a short span and even secured 4th rank. In 1921, Netaji Subhash Chandra Bose chose to quit his job and fight for the freedom of his motherland.

Nobel Laureates from West Bengal

In the last 25 years, India has won 2 Nobel prizes in economics, both of which are Bengalis. Amartya Sen and Abhijit Banerjee are the Nobel laureates who won the Nobel prize for their research on economics in 1998 and 2019, respectively.

Bengal and its Unparalleled Legacy of Art And Culture
Bengal and its Unparalleled Legacy of Art And Culture

Bengal Film Industry 

Regarding skill and technique, Bengali cinema has always been a tough competitor to the Hindi film business. The cinema has a lengthy history. The bioscopes exhibition first happened in Kolkata’s theatres in the 1890s. Hiralal Sen planted the seeds of Bengali film when he founded the Royal Bioscope Company. Dhirendra Nath Ganguly, who founded the Indo-British Film Company in 1918, continued to carry on his legacy.

Bengali film had reached its height of popularity by 1950. Uttam Kumar and Suchitra Sen were the most anticipated couple in the movie business at the time. This duo dominated Bengali cinema for over a decade before Suchitra Sen left the industry for health reasons. Until his untimely passing in 1980, Uttam Kumar continued to shine in Bengali film. Tollywood is the name of the West Bengal film industry, inspired by Tollygunge, a neighbourhood in South Kolkata.

Bengal and its Unparalleled Legacy of Art And Culture
Suchitra Sen from an iconic movie. 'Ashani Sanket.'

Bengali film has also contributed significantly to the Indian film industry. Beyond Satyajit Ray, filmmakers such as Bimal Roy, Ritwik Ghatak, Mrinal Sen, Aparna Sen, Rituparno Ghosh, and Gautam Ghosh have made significant contributions to the country’s relevant cinema. Most directors have also completed a brief spell in Bollywood, India’s largest film business, and excelled there.

Bengal and its Unparalleled Legacy of Art And Culture
Satyajit Ray from one of his movie sets.

Art and the Artists from the Tollywood film industry

Satyajit ray 

Satyajit ray is one of the best filmmakers in India and an absolute legend of the Bengali film industry. The Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences awarded Satyajit Ray the Honorary Oscar for Lifetime Achievement.

Satyajit Ray’s literary creations, such as Feluda, Professor Shonku, and Tarini Khuro, are an inextricable part of every Bengali person’s childhood.

Uttam Kumar

Uttam Kumar was popularly known as the Mahanayak. His contribution to the Bengali film industry is unforgettable. He appeared in over 200 films. He ruled the hearts of Bengalis for decades, and even today, he is the man of dreams for millions of girls. 

Suchitra Sen 

Suchitra Sen earned the Silver Prize for Best Actress for Saat Pake Bandha at the 1963 Moscow International Film Festival, becoming the first Indian actress to win an honor there. Her pairing with Uttam Kumar is evergreen for Bengali romanticism.

Bengal and its Unparalleled Legacy of Art And Culture
Suchitra Sen

Literature of Bengal

The 19th century saw a rise in Bengali literature. To assist in teaching the British-specific Indian languages, particularly Bengali, the Bengali Pandits of Fort William College toiled at transcribing Bengali textbooks. This work contributed to the background development of Bengali prose. New literary journals, periodicals, and newspapers increased during this time. Additionally, other educational institutions popped up all over the area. All these events fostered and advanced the modern Bengali literary movement.

Bengali plays, poetry, and modern media flourished in the latter half of the 19th century. The Bengali poetry wing was given new life by Rabindra Nath Tagore, Bihari Lal Chakraborty, and others. Digdarshan and Samachar-Darpan, two periodicals, also gained popularity. The growing Bengali literature at this time also significantly contributed to the battle for Indian independence. Through modern literature, the meeting of Bengal and the Renaissance in the 20th century led to a movement of socialist changes.

Bengali literature continues to be a significant part of Indian literature today. In contrast to international literature, a sizable portion of the Bengali community still favors the rich regional literature pertinent to their society

Literature Prodigies from Bengal

Rabindranath Tagore 

Rabindranath Tagore is the first Non-European to win a Nobel prize in literature. He is the only person in the world who has written the national anthem of three nations – India, Bangladesh, and even Sri Lanka. 

Bengal and its Unparalleled Legacy of Art And Culture
Rabindra Nath Tagore

Sukumar Ray  

Sukumar Ray, within a short lifespan of 35 years, produced some high-quality pieces that you may consider some of the best in the history of Bengali literature. His nonsense poems series – ‘Abol Tabol,’ has always served as a great source of joy and learning for kids. 

Sharadindu Bandyopadhyay

Sharadindu Bandyopadhyay produced one of India’s most famous detective characters – Byomkesh Bakshi. His detective fiction is evergreen and a piece of literature that every age group of society can enjoy. 

Fine arts of Bengal

A genuine piece of West Bengal’s cultural legacy is the Patachitra painting. The Patua community in West Bengal has practiced the Patachitra craft for a very long time. Naya is a cute tiny village in Paschim Medinipur where about 250 patuas or chitrakars live. There are several facets of Bengal Patachitra, including Chalchitra, Durga Pat, Medinipur Patachitra, Kalighat Patachitra, and mud wall paintings. In his book Folk Art of Bengal, D. P. Ghosh noted the various Bengal Patachitra styles in the West Bengal areas.

Bengal and its Unparalleled Legacy of Art And Culture
A woman doing Patachitra art.

Patachitra art is also very famous and part of the Culture in Orissa. Odisha’s  Pattachitra is a centuries-old folk art style from rural Orissa based on Hindu mythology and mainly inspired by Jagannath and the Vaishnava sect.

You can distinguish the Patachitra of several West Bengal districts by numerous unique color and pattern features. A distinctive characteristic of the Patachitra of Manbhum, now known as Purulia, is their fondness for a particular shade of burnt sienna that breaks into white and yellow patches. Seated images of Dasaratha and Chand Sadagar of Medinipur majestically crown the Ramayana and Kamale-Kamini scrolls. The Hooghly and Manbhum “pats,” with their abstract linear treatment, are unusual and unmistakably modernistic. The scrolls of Hooghly favored a dark brown background as opposed to the Indian red experience that one can find in the scrolls of Birbhum, Bankura, and Burdwan. 

Apart from Patachitra, even the artistic genius of Abanindranath Tagore created the famous canvas art of ‘Bharat Mata.’

Did you know?

Patachitra art is also very famous and part of the Culture in Orissa. Odisha’s  Pattachitra is a centuries-old folk art style from rural Orissa based on Hindu mythology and mainly inspired by Jagannath and the Vaishnava sect.

The architecture of Bengal 

Bengali architecture has a long and rich history, fusing native elements from the Indian subcontinent with influences from other parts of the world. Bengali architecture includes the modern nation of Bangladesh and the Indian states of West Bengal, Tripura, and Assam’s Barak Valley. Bengali architecture consists of colonial townhouses, country houses, old urban architecture, religious architecture, rural vernacular architecture, and contemporary urban styles. A major Bengali architectural export is the bungalow style. Even the corner towers of Bengali religious structures were imitated in medieval Southeast Asia, by then experts. Because of heavy rainfall, many Bengali adopted curved roofs as a distinctive regional style of Indo-Islamic architecture. They were also used decoratively in other Mughal structures throughout north India.

Bengal and its Unparalleled Legacy of Art And Culture

Final Thoughts

India is always known as a land of diverse people. And every Indian believes in the concept of ‘Unity in Diversity.’ In the land of diversity, Bengal has always contributed towards making this country’s art and Culture more prosperous.

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