CU documentary on Kolkata’s riverfront heritage, its link with diaspora, city life

KOLKATA: ‘Walking by the Riverfront’, a documentary exploring the everyday aspects of Kolkata’s riverfront heritage, especially in reference to migrant communities, was screened at British Council Library on Friday.
The project, awarded to CU’s geography department by UK Arts and Humanities Research Council and Indian Council of Historical Research, focuses on the intangible and tangible nature of diaspora heritage along the riverfront, with a long-term aim of ensuring all citizens—including the poor and displaced —have equal access to a safe and inclusive city life. Among the guests were Hidco chairman Debashis Sen, Sister Nivedita University VC Dhrubajyoti Chattopadhyay, and British deputy head of mission Yemi Odanye.

CU geography professor Sumana Bandyopadhyay said, “A growing concern is around the everydayness of heritage, which links people and places in an intense and binding manner, to unearth sense of ownership, around tangible and intangible heritage.”
“The documentary captures Hooghly ghats from the perspective of migrants living here for generations. Their link with the riverfront emerges in our interviews with idol-makers China Pal, Abhijit Pal, the imam of Bashri Shah Mosque, Uttam De from theatre and Kashishwar RoyChoudhury of Chitteswari Mandir,” said Indrajeet Chakraborty, director of the documentary.

The film shows lesser-known heritage precincts, like the marble plaque at Chotelal ki Ghat, which pays tribute to those who died in a shipwreck. “The documentary was anchored by film-maker Ashok Viswanathan. Goutam Basu Mullick helped us with research,” Bandyopadhyay added.
Utpal Roy, head of CU geography department, said, “It will help us understand the wider benefits of heritage conservation.” Debanjan Chakrabarti, director British Council, East and Northeast India, said, “It is wonderful to see a project like this.”

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