90’s, The Decade Of Transition – Making of modern India

Calcutta Tram - Ode to the 1990s Calcutta - Artwork Avanish Trivedi By Wikipedia
Calcutta Tram - Ode to the 1990s Calcutta - Artwork Avanish Trivedi By Wikipedia

90’s, The Decade Of Transition

By Dipnarayan Maity

The year 1991 is very special to us as we entered our college life. It also marked the year of entering of new decade and we witnessed many radical changes throughout the decade.

We all go through a period of transition in our life; so does a nation.We witnessed such a period of transition in the decade of Nineties which brought radical changes in our society and its impact was so huge in our life in every aspect that you can say, \” It was the best of times, it was the worst of times, it was the age of wisdom, it was the age of foolishness, it was the epoch of belief, it was the epoch of incredulity, it was the season of Light, it was the season of Darkness, it was the spring of hope, it was the winter of despair, we had everything before us, we had nothing before us, we were all going direct to heaven, we were all going direct the other way\”.

Although social inequality was mounting throughout the decade of nineties yet introducing the policy of Economic Liberalisation in 1991 was reckoned as a momentous event of Indian Economy as a part of economic reformation thriving to enter the Global Arena through marketisation. This socio-economic transition from its preconceived colonial economy post independence, which was thought to be the most exploitative in nature by many experts, opened a new window aiming to be the Global Hub from the beginning of this decade.

Suddenly the melancholic signature tune of “Doordarshan” composed by Ravishankar and “Akashbani” which was rendered in the air before their telecast from every household faded away in no time. Instead, many satellite channels and radio channels entered into our drawing room to entertain us and became order of the day. The two popular program on Doordarshan “Chitrahaar” & “Rangoli” started loosing its TRP drastically while “Ramayana” & “Mahabharata” was trying to keep momentum high and saved the day.

We all started enjoying glamour of English Premier League, Spanish League, Wimboldan, French open tournaments etc. watching on colour Television with Coke and Pepsi and our neck started to oscillate and bending like “Beckhame”. Bursting into laughter seeing how a tiger chasing a deer and jump on it. The Bengalis suddenly discovered that the 25th of December is their second Durga Puja celebrating with Cake and Coke wearing Jeans. Cake also entered our birthday celebrations keeping aside “Payes”. Daily newspaper became fattening by adding “Page 3”. Hollywood, Bollywood, Regional movies are easily available 24x7on MTV channel and numerous movie channels.

Mission Impossible seemed to be appeared very close. As a result, many old Cinema houses converted into shopping mall overnight. The entire world seemed to be confined in the idiot box. The Black and White television set had fallen quickly into the category of Antique items of Jurassic age. This was a profound impact on our lifestyle. Fashion world was booming so fast that it completely changed our attire in every sense. A new consumer society was evolving silently. Window shopping, Candle light dinner gradually became part of a section of our society. The landline telephone, which was once considered the symbol of social status, becoming more accessible to the average person. Thanks to the booming of telecommunications. Gradually, we were about to enter into the digital age. We embraced all these changes whole heartedly in our daily life.

Many job opportunities also generated side by side.
A social disparity was also created slowly but surely.

But still we were looking for a new iconic figure , a modern Hero in our respective favourite fields .

After gracing Test Cricket for many years, Gavaskar bid adieu to Cricket. His departure also threatened the extinction of Copy Book Cricket, which he had followed strictly throughout his career. Big companies were already gathering on the sidelines to invest and promote Indian Cricket, seeing enormous popularity among the billions seemingly in their religion despite it was not the common man’s game. The glamour and money in the game reached its heightened when a boy with curly hair named after great music composer Sachin Dev Burman from Bombay (not Mumbai) and used to hold a pen in his left hand to write, took guard with beautiful stance with the right hand —— playing awesome strokes with great elegance, -Straight drive on the front foot, Square cut on his back foot, leg glance on his toe, Cover drive on the rise at any English conditions or on Fast pitches around the world which was never seen before ” Willow seemed to be mightier than Pen”! All legendary cricketers of the world acknowledged the preeminence of his rare talent and the dream journey of Indian cricket began, not only the Indians but the whole cricket world also amazed with his cricketing skills for next many years. He made himself an inspiration for many young cricketers around the world. We saw the God of cricket Tendulkar in action.

The game of 64 squares is believed to be originated in India and playing from Gupta Period ,primarily belonged to the emperor’s game as they believed that this game is very useful to design war strategies against the opponent to choke them. Soviet Union and America ruled the game for centuries. But no ” Knight” from India was found his position in the world map of Chess until then. The match between Bobby Fischer , the American and Boris Spassky of The USSR held in 1972 often referred to as a Cold War conformation between US and USSR. It attracted more worldwide interest than before. Then Garry Kasparov dominated the game for many years. India was struggling to produce a single “Grandmaster” who can take part in World Chess Championship till early of this decade. Vishhy Anand from Tamilnadu achieved this rank at his tender age and became the new face of Rapid Chess competition in the world.

বহু দিন ধ’রে বহু ক্রোশ দূরে
বহু ব্যয় করি বহু দেশ ঘুরে
দেখিতে গিয়েছি পর্বতমালা,
দেখিতে গিয়েছি সিন্ধু।
দেখা হয় নাই চক্ষু মেলিয়া
ঘর হতে শুধু দুই পা ফেলিয়া
একটি ধানের শিষের উপরে
একটি শিশিরবিন্দু

Becoming wanderlust for long time ,
Spending lot in many places to catch a glimpse of
Mountain range and the oceans
But never notice the glistening drop of dew
On the single blade of paddy grain lies
just a few steps outside my courtyard.

This is the poem Rabindranath had written in the notebook of a 7 years old boy who asked him for an autograph. The boy came to Shantiniketan with his mother from Calcutta to meet him. This poem might be beyond his understanding at his tender age but the last four lines of the poem might have laid the foundation of the boy‘ mind which means ” The powerful observations” how to explore the nature which no school in the world could have taught him.

Then after finishing his Graduation he came back to Shantiniketan to fulfil his mother’s wishes to learn Fine Arts though he was reluctant to leave Calcutta. Here he was aquatinted with Oriental arts under the guidance of the great painter Nandalal Bose. He was also greatly influenced by Binod Bihari Mukherjee’s work. His artistic mind was stimulated more and acquired great knowledge about Indian Art when he visited Ajanta, Elora cave. At the same time, he was adept at Western music notation as he was an avid listener of Western classical music from very early. He was very fond of Mozart, Ludwig Van Beethoven, Johann Sebastian Bach . Returning from Shantiniketan , he joined as an illustrator and Visual Artist at D.J Keymer Ad agency and then Signet Press in Calcutta.

“Aam Aantir Bhepu”, the special edition of children’s version of “Panther Panchali” (the song of road) written by Bibhutibhusan Bandyopadhya, was decided to publish and he was given for illustration of this book. After going through the book, he finally found himself on the very heart of Rural Bengal and made up his mind to make a film based upon this as he came up with the new way of manifesting the neorealism of sagas of village life that was portrayed in this book with every ingredient.

Vittoria De Sica’s “Bicycle Thieves” had already made a profound impact on him. Nature played a big role in this film and his exploring eye had never made a mistake about the detailing of Nature, “the single drop of water on the blade of grass or on the paddy grain ” in his very first film.

The coexistence of Nature and human life was amalgamated beautifully in every single frame of this film.. This film had not only brought India to the world cinema but the whole world also highly appreciated the creative skill of the maker of this film, Satyajit Ray carrying through his impressive lineage, son of Sukumar Roy and grand son of Upendrakishore, — both were unparalleled in children’s literature. After illuminating world cinema for almost four decades by many of his masterpieces, Oscar came at the last moment in 1992 when he was about to leave the world, admitted to the hospital, fatally ill.

Once upon a time, a boy roamed the corridor of Shantiniketan building, saw a man with long beard sitting on a chair at the end of the corridor engrossed in writing, looked at him and asked Who are you boy, where are you coming from
I am from Calcutta.
Who is your father
I am the son of Sukumar Roy.
Oh, my boy , come come….
The boy advanced slowly towards him.

His last film, Agantuk, the Stranger, was released in 1992. In this film he gave his last message to the world, he himself portrayed as a stranger, it was called the crisis in modern civilisation. He reminded us the glorious human heritage is now way past. Today, dishonesty, disbelief, suspicion, corruption all are percolated to its very roots of our society . It may lead to the severe degradation of human race loosing its values, morality would finally fall in a crumbling ruined society like a vast heap of futility.

Dipnarayan Maity
Dipnarayan Maity

Dipnarayan Maity, A fresh blood in classical essay writing.Government employee, ex Motijheel College Physics (Hons) student. He is a close friend of IBG NEWS Chief Editor. Upon receiving the friend’s request, this master craftsman with pen and paper inked few lines on nostalgic nineties of India. A documentary of time with personal journey through it. He shares a wide knowledge and interest in multi discipline and subjects right from science to sociology to art. Traveling photography and music his passion for life.

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