Kolkata: New Bengali paper war hots up

The Bengali newspaper war picks up momentum in Kolkata with the Times of India group all set to launch Ei Shomoi, its Bengali daily, coming week.

Anant Rangaswami October 12, 2012 11:55:45 IST
Kolkata: New Bengali paper war hots up

Now it’s official. It’s war. From the moment there were rumours that Bennett, Coleman and Company Limited (BCCL), the publishers of The Times of India, were planning to launch a Bengali daily, there were counter rumours that ABP Limited, the publishers of Ananda Bazar Patrika and The Telegraph, would launch a second Bengali newspaper, a tabloid, to use as a flanking title.

ABP got off the blocks first, launching Ebela, (translating loosely to ‘this time’ or ‘now’), a tabloid, in mid-September. The paper is not only physically a tabloid, but is tabloid-esque content wise. Firstpost reviewed the paper a few days after it launched.

Now BCCL has thrown its hat into the ring, launching a print and TV campaign for their offering – Ei Shomoy (which translates, loosely, to the same as Ebela would: ‘this time’ or ‘now’).

Kolkata New Bengali paper war hots up

The print ad for Ei Shomoy.

Aashchey ek notun shomoy’ says the headline, which, in English, would mean ‘A new time is coming’. There’s not much more that the print ad says, except to give you clarity on the price (less than Re 1 per day for six months) and on the launch date – it says the paper will be available on the auspicious date of Mahalaya – which is on Monday, 15 October. One would imagine that the next few days would see more ads – and more information on what can be expected of the product.

Ei Shomoy has also launched a television commercial, which you can see below:

The TVC, conceptualized, one presumes, by Tailor (with inputs from Taproot) falls short of the high-quality films that BCCL’s newspapers have come up with of late. While the fact that the TVC is directed by Sujoy Ghosh and features a number of the most popular bands/singers in Kolkata (Chandrabindoo, Lakkhichhara, Fossils, Cactus, Anupam Roy and Mohiner Ghoraguli), the film itself seems nothing but a montage of predictable Kolkata picture-postcards supported by music.

So you have the Victoria Memorial, a few frames of football, images of the Hoogly river and the second Hoogly bridge, a shot of a tram, old men at an ‘adda’, citizens with books (presumably at College Street or at the Kolkata Book Fair) and a passing reference to Tagore.

The Times of India utilized the ‘postcard’ route when it launched the Kerala editions but they were used to much greater effect in a static, print form. In the Kolkata TVC, we have fleeting seconds of the idiom, gone before they sink in.

The film falls short of the brilliance of the Kerala launch, ‘God’s own traffic jam’, which moved out of the static to wonderful movements, capturing the idioms that mattered.

What the Ei Shomoy film cues, certainly, is youth, as the film studiously avoids the idioms that are negative – the hand-pulled rickshaw, the rickety, yellow, Ambassador taxis, the overcrowded buses and trains. They’ve missed the metro, though, one of the few recent signs of pride for Kolkata.

The film may disappoint, but all is not lost yet. The real battle begins on Mahalaya, when Ei Shomoy launches. That’s the day that matters – the consumer will have both Ebela and Ei Shomoy in his or her hands and choose one or the other – or perhaps both, considering the ridiculously low cover prices.

Watch video here:

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