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Intelligentsia up in arms against Calcutta Club's colonial dress code

Raktima Bose

The Club recently turned away a noted painter for not “dressing up appropriately”


Shuvaprasanna was turned away from Club's entrance though he had been invited for an event

Authorities have in the past turned away M. F. Husain and choreographer Ananda Shankar




Turned away:Shuvaprasanna

KOLKATA: Known for its strict dress code that did not hinder its authorities from turning away the celebrated Maqbool Fida Husain years ago, the over 100-year-old Calcutta Club here on Monday faced demonstrations by a section of the city's intelligentsia in protest against the Club authorities' adherence to the dress code.

The protest was prompted by a recent incident of the Club authorities turning away the noted painter Shuvaprasanna from the entrance for not “dressing up appropriately” even though he had been invited to the Club for an event.

“Ridiculous”

Led by Shuvaprasanna, the intelligentsia — clad in traditional attire — slammed the Club authorities for sticking to “regressive colonial rules even after 64 years of Independence” and demanded that the Club withdraw the strict norms immediately.

“The strict Western dress code imposed by the Club authorities is not only unsuitable for the city's weather but also ridiculous and insults the rich heritage of Bengali culture. A dress is always the reflection of one's personality, taste and culture one tends to inculcate,” said Shuvaprasanna.

“Exhibiting superiority”

He said such a strict dress code is a way of alienating oneself from the rest in an attempt to exhibit social and financial superiority over others.

Apart from M. F. Husain, renowned choreographer Ananda Shankar was also turned away by the Club once for not sticking to the dress code.

Even former West Bengal Governor Gopalkrishna Gandhi had once turned down an invitation from the Club authorities when the latter insisted that Mr. Gandhi dress up in formal attire rather than his trademark kurta-pyjamas for attending the event.

Ironically, the Calcutta Club was established in 1907, with the Maharajah of Cooch Behar as its first president, as a sign of protest against racial discrimination practised by the British at the Bengal Club that allowed only white-skinned persons to be its members.

“Come out of

colonial yoke”

“After 64 years of Independence, it is time now to come out of the colonial yoke in every aspect of social life. The Club authorities should allow both its members and invitees to wear clothes that are decent and comfortable without compromising on their cultural richness,” said noted playwright Bibhas Chakraborty.

The intelligentsia submitted a charter of demands to the Calcutta Club authorities after the demonstration.

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