For years, Kolkata's Bishop Lefroy Road was known as the street on which legendary filmmaker Satyajit Ray lived and worked. It was enough to distinguish the residents on the 150-metre stretch. On 29 February, West Bengal Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee announced that Lee Road, near Bishop Lefroy Road, would be renamed Satyajit Ray Dharani, as tribute to the maestro.
Banerjee probably had the best intention in rebranding the street, but the reactions that have poured in after her announcement are less than congratulatory.
The reason: Dharani is the Bengali word for Earth, the world, the Big E, the planet...you get the drift. While no one disputes that Ray, a stalwart of world cinema, deserves a road named after him, people are a little sceptical about naming a street that literally translates to Satyajit Ray Earth.
"As a token of our humble dedication to the memory and phenomenal contribution of legendary personality Satyajit Ray, we have decided to rename Lee Road, near Bishop Lefroy Road where his house stands, as “Satyajit Ray Dharani”. Kolkata Municipal Corporation has beautified the area near Satyajit Ray's house in a unique way, which has been inaugurated today. It is only our small tribute to the iconic man who took Bengal to a distinctive place in the world in the field of cinema and more," Banerjee wrote in a Facebook post.
Special benches have been set up on both sides of the pavement and PTI reported that "designer street furniture" have been installed. Ray's residence is a grade-I heritage building. Replica of the original posters of his masterpiece 'Pather Panchali' now adorn both sides of the road.
During an event, Mayor Sovon Chatterjee said the Kolkata Municipal Corporation has decided to rename Lee Road as Satyajit Ray Sarani (Satyajit Ray Road). Banerjee, who was present on the dais, apparently told him "there are many Saranis in Kolkata, name this one Dharani," according to the Ananda Bazaar Patrika.
The paper spoke to several luminaries in Kolkata to gauge their reactions on the radical move.
Renowned Bengali author Shirshendu Mukhopadhyay said: "I don't know how the CM thought up the word 'dharani'. But it does not work as the name of a road." Poet Sankha Ghosh allegedly laughed outright when the paper called him for a reaction.
The 'dharani' move was met with mild derision on Twitter as well.
Satyajit Ray Dharani— IamPosu™ (@theposu) March 2, 2016
Now can we rename West Bengal to PLANET DIDI
Sarani is so passé. Mamata renames road to Satyajit Ray 'Dharani' (earth) via @prasanto This is even more hilarious than Dhana Dhanye Setu!— Shuma Raha (@ShumaRaha) March 1, 2016
Instead of Satyajit Ray Sarani the road in his honor will be Satyajit Ray Dharani says Didi. Huh? pic.twitter.com/Nph1eCMyUT— Sandip Roy (@sandipr) March 1, 2016
Welcome to the grand linguistics world of Mamata Banerjee.Lee Road is now Satyajit Ray,not Sarani,but Dharani!Dharani dwidha hok!— Rajdeep Deb (@idrrajdeep) March 1, 2016
However, a Trinamool leader the ABP spoke to justified Banerjee's reason behind naming the street.
"Don't we often refer with pride to the place we live in as 'this is my world?' Ray is the pride of the world. That's why our CM has chosen the word."
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