Kolkata luminaries decry elite club's denial of entry to painter

Kolkata luminaries decry elite club's denial of entry to painter

A shocked Shuvaprasanna had shot off a letter to the club management demanding the reason for the treatment meted out to him, but was yet to get any response.

The vocal painter, known as much for his paintings as his closeness to Mamata Banerjee, was invited by the 100-year-old club earlier this month, but was denied entry for being attired in kurta-pyjama - a dress which is not compatible with the club's dress code.

In his letter, the painter pointed out that kurta-pyjama cannot be an "improper" dress in any way. "It is an anachronism in the modern world," he said.

The painter also organised a protest-demonstration at the gate of the elite club on June 13, along with other city intellectuals.

"As I went inside the club on an invitation by a friend and member of the club, a club employee referred to my dress and asked me to leave," Shuvaprasanna said.

"It defies logic why someone, attired decently, cannot be allowed access to the club just for not sticking to its own dress codes, which has become impractical in Indian conditions," the painter told PTI.

The Calcutta Club management refused to talk on the issue.

"We don't talk to reporters this way. We won't tell you anything," a club spokesman said.

Striking a different note, Sandip Ray, son of legendary film-maker Satyajit Ray, said, "I can just say that every club has its own set of dress rules and if you have to go there, you have to follow the same".

"Of course it is another matter if serious thought is given by them to re-examine the issue," he hastened to add.

Contacted at his residence, a member of Shuvaprasanna's household confirmed that the painter, now abroad, had not got any formal reply from the Calcutta club authorities about his letter till date.

Echoing Shuvaprasanna, internationally-known painter Jogen Choudhury said, "Shuva did not go to the club on his own, but on invitation from a club member and he did not wear anything which could be termed offensive or distasteful."

Popular Bengali film director Haranath Chakraborty referred to how "great sons of Bengal like Iswarchandra Vidyasagar, Swami Vivekananda, Rabindranath Tagore took pride in wearing Indian dresses".

"How can an old premier institution like Calcutta Club, set up by an Indian against British
rulers, mete out such a treatment to its own people?" he asked.

The club, set up in 1907 with the Maharaja of Coochbehar as its president, had similarly turned away late choreographer Ananda Shankar on the same ground in the late 80s.

Authorities of Saturday Club, another premier club of the city, refused to speak to the press on the issue.

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