Film

'Revolutionary Optimists' on Independent Lens

Even when his students are forced into emotional difficulties, arranged marriages or hard labor to support their families, Amlan Ganguly persists, believing they can find their way out of the slums of Kolkata.

"Salim used to tell me, "Shikha, there's a place I go, where they teach art and stuff. Like puppets you make dance on a string.'" Remembering when she first heard of the school inside the brickfield, Shikha Patra slows down and glances up. "So I asked him," she goes on, "'Where is that?'" The little girl is remembering an early encounter with a student at Prayasam, a child-driven community organization located in the slums of Kolkata. Her surprise and curiosity soon give way to belief, when Shikha begins working with Amlan Ganguly, the community's founder and primary counselor and teacher. As you come to see in Revolutionary Optimists, Maren R. Monsen and Nicole Newnham's remarkable documentary premiering on PBS this month as part of Independent Lens, Ganguly brought to his project in 1996 passion and commitment, a determination to help the kids find their way out of poverty and into futures with hope, grounded in creativity and love and hard work. As impossible as this may seem at times, even when his students are forced into emotional difficulties, arranged marriages or hard labor to support their families, he persists. This is the extraordinary balance the film manages, celebrating the efforts at Prayasam and the successes, while never losing sight of the crises that define daily life for the kids growing up in the Kolkata slums.

See PopMatters' review.

8

Over the Rainbow: An Interview With Herb Alpert

Music legend Herb Alpert discusses his new album, Over the Rainbow, maintaining his artistic drive, and his place in music history. "If we tried to start A&M in today's environment, we'd have no chance. I don't know if I'd get a start as a trumpet player. But I keep doing this because I'm having fun."

Jedd Beaudoin
Music

The Cigarette: A Political History (By the Book)

Sarah Milov's The Cigarette restores politics to its rightful place in the tale of tobacco's rise and fall, illustrating America's continuing battles over corporate influence, individual responsibility, collective choice, and the scope of governmental power. Enjoy this excerpt from Chapter 5. "Inventing the Nonsmoker".

Sarah Milov
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