- Anand Puri
Trincas 1965 - of Musicians, an Actor and a future Prime Minister
Updated: Feb 19, 2021
It’s a hot and humid May 18th in Kolkata. In a locked-down Trincas, in a (mostly) locked down world, a tiny crew has been busy at the restaurant over the last few weeks cleaning up the place, and understanding and implementing new safety protocols. Bringing delicious food safely front-and-centre to an online audience has been the goal. The internet is a modern wonder and enabler. It has the ability to infuse life into projects which otherwise would remain fast asleep. The Trincas Timeline Project is one of those sleeping internet beauties - a community based memory project - it keeps coming alive, waking from slumber when little digital ripples turn into stronger currents. After many months of quiet, this story came suddenly alive again, forwarded and re-forwarded on a wave of Whatsapp messages that took it around the world. People’s phones pinged, and with time on their hands, many actually opened (and read!) this little gem. In England, a gentleman, Mr Rangam Mitra, was inspired to send us his recollection of Trincas, dropping not one, but two famous names into the warm glow of Trincas’ digital spotlight. His story is as follows: “While in college (St Xavier’s) in the late ‘60s we had a band made up of college friends. The one member of the group that went on to become a person of some note was Victor Banerjee – someone with a very melodious voice. He named the group the ‘Diskords’. We were reasonable useless but nevertheless forced ourselves on to any friend when he or she had a party to let us play. My parents were good friends with Ellis Joshua, one of the partners at Trincas. In discussions with him, he said, “Why don’t they play at one of our Sunday morning Jam Sessions?”. The regular playing group at that time, were the Trojans with Biddu Appaiah. We were thrilled at being ‘invited’ to play and made sure that virtually all our friends would attend that day’s session. I am told that the line to get in to Trincas that day was so long that it went down the road all the way to Kwality’s and beyond. I remember Joshua saying, “I don’t know what you guys have got (another way of saying we were reasonably useless!), but we have seldom seen such a crowd!” We were obviously good for business and he invited us to come again. We didn’t let up that we had threatened all our friends with ‘dire consequences’ for not showing up, and hence the packed house! Better to quit while ahead. We never took up Joshua’s offer for a second performance lest the truth be exposed. We were, however, delighted to play at Trincas and the session did go off quite well. Earlier in ‘65 Rajiv Gandhi and a friend of his came to Calcutta for a couple of days. He called me (we were in the same school, though he was senior to me) and said he wanted to go to the most ‘in place’ in Calcutta. I took them to Trincas!
We sat in the last row against the wall, with the bustling Park Street pavement to our backs and spent quite a few hours there. That’s at least one ex-Prime Minister who’s name you can add to the list of celebrities that visited this iconic Park Street haunt!”
*Diskord members who played at Trinca’s – Victor Banerjee (singer) - Himachal Das (lead guitar) - Larry Renoma (rhythm guitar) - Partha Majumdar (bass) - Joyshil Mitter (drums) - Rangam Mitra (singer and rhythm guitar) - Dhrubo Chaudhuri (Manager)
Contributed by Rangam Mitra, May 2020
This story is part of the Trincas Timeline Project - an exciting community-based memory project aimed at collecting stories, photos, and anecdotes going back almost a hundred years.
It aims to cover not just Trincas’ storied history, but also provide glimpses of ‘the Park Street Scene’ and Calcutta/Kolkata as it has evolved over the last century.
The project focuses on history, culture, music and food by connecting with patrons, musicians, celebrities and historians.
Anecdotes, photos and interviews are converted into short blog posts documenting the personal connections that so many Calcuttans past and present have with this iconic institution.
The goal is to collect a living history of sorts under one virtual roof and create a cultural treasure-house for present and future generations.