Discover a little France in the cultural vein of Kolkata

January 10, 2019

Kolkata has a long connection with France and its language and the culture. Kolkata is the capital of that state, a part of which was under the French occupancy. Chandannagar was the only city of Bengal which was the part of French India. This city was one of the important parts of French settlement in this country. The vestige of the French regime is still visible there. Despite being one of the capitals of British India, Kolkata still retains its passion for France and the French language. The French courses in Kolkata are one of the significant foreign language study programs the city has ever witnessed. The study of French is directly connected with the organization called Alliance française since 1940. This is the year when this organization established its first set up at Park Street Kolkata.

French connection of Bengal:

Some people say that the position of Bengal in India is comparable with the position of France in the world. Art, culture, and philosophy are three important areas of excellence that both places share as the commonality.

During his early life in England, one of the English colleagues asked Sri Aurobindo that which place in Europe he thinks is comparable with ancient Athens. Which was the capital of art, culture, and prosperity in the whole continent? According to that gentleman, it is London. But Sri Aurobindo responded “No. It is France”. Sage, scholar, poet and nationalist, Sri Aurobindo Ghosh uttered his preference for France in the hay days of British Empire. It is not only the verdict of the Bengal’s greatest child Sri. Aurobindo but the comment of Bengal intelligentsia. That is the reason the creative community of Bengal got attracted to the French culture relentlessly. But the language is the cardinal barrier in this regard. The patronage for a French language course in Kolkata is one of the obvious gesture in this regard. It was the time of 60s that Sorbonne University Paris experienced student turbulence and eventually it got influenced by noted French erudite personality Jean-Paul Sartre. The intelligentsia of Kolkata responded in the impact. The counter thought against communism sprouted, Sartre became a role model for many Bengali intellectuals.

The mainstream Bengali culture got influenced by different French cultural movements. As an example noted film director Mrinal Sen was directly influenced by the film language invented during the time of French New wavy film movement.   The French training institute in Kolkata had become a fashionable learning center for the young generation of the 60s. Some noted cultural personalities such as Kamal Kumar Majumder, Nirod Majumder, Shanu Lahiri, painter Paritosh Sen got educated in France or adopted the French language as the part of their intellectual pursuit.  In contemporary time noted scholar Chinmoy Guha is flowing the tradition established by famous poet Arun Mitra. Mitra was one of the famous scholars of the French language in Kolkata. He was a poet of a turbulent time of the city. His scholarship in the French language was highly revered by the city intelligentsia. In contemporary time Chinmoy Guha has received esteemed honor from France due to his contribution in the French language. The French courses in Kolkata are the representation of cultural affiliation between Kolkata and France.

Kolkata celebrated different noted French personalities in the different point of time. As an example, this city invited famous French philosopher and the one of the greatest founder of deconstruction theory Jac Derrida. Derrida came to Kolkata as the chief guest of international Kolkata book fair.  A French language course in Kolkata is the token representation of the facilitation of one of the greatest languages of human civilization. As the response of the respect, France also honored one of the greatest personalities of the contemporary time in his home town Kolkata. That was the thrilling moment for every dweller Kolkata when Satyjit Ray received the greatest civilian award from France by French president François Mitterrand.

In conclusion, it can be said that the French training institute in Kolkata is one of the places from where the city population can get proper training in the language. The training of this institute can be of the major attribute in their character and reputation.

Posted by Harry Mike

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