Excessive marketing ruining Durga Puja aesthetics, say artists

Kolkata, Oct 23 (IANS) Excessive publicity and marketing gimmicks have “crushed” the cultural overtones associated with Durga Puja, renowned artists said in the wake of the fracas at the Deshapriya Park marquee here which boasted of designing the “world’s tallest Durga idol”.

Artist Subhaprasanna Bhattacharjee said not only was the 88-foot idol crafted of cement and fibre glass “disproportionate”, it was also aesthetically “disbalanced”. What amazed him was the massive promotion and marketing campaign that panned out across India.

“Hats-off to whoever thought of promoting it this way. Nowadays, marketing of the pujas has destroyed the cultural flavour of the festival. And people in West Bengal are caught in the moment and the hype so much so that they don’t really care about the real thing,” Subhaprasanna told IANS on Friday.

“It’s as if a ‘don’t care’ attitude has come up among a section of organisers in a race to become the best and biggest and outdo others. Sometimes they seem to lack the sense to integrate their concepts in an artistic way,” lamented Subhaprassana.

Such was the buzz surrounding the marquee that on Sunday, a day ahead of the Durga Puja, a massive rush of people led to a stampede-like situation at the Puja marquee and left a number of people injured.

The entire city, wrapped in gigantic banners and hoardings announcing the idol’s dimensions, came to a grinding halt as traffic stopped for a couple of hours. The Kolkata Police subsequently banned public viewing of the idol and filed a case against the organisers on the charge of violating rules and regulations.

Labelling the array of banners and hoardings lining city streets as “visual pollution”, artist Jogen Chowdhury, the first artist-in-residence at Rashtrapati Bhavan, said commercialisation of art has been the norm in the last few years when it comes to Durga Puja in Kolkata.

“Even a short stretch is covered in banners. There is excessive commercialisation,” Chowdhury told IANS.

Both experts felt artists who come to Kolkata from rural pockets and other states to transform marquees into works of art should get the credit.

“They get paid and their talents are showcased courtesy the pandals but the individuals behind such intricate work should be brought into the limelight,” added Chowdhury, Trinamool Congress’s member of the Rajya Sabha.

“There are some exceptional ideas that are highlighted but organisers need to have that aesthetic bent to put the spotlight on the artists,” Shubhaprasanna added.

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