Batasia Loop
In picture: The Batasia Loop in West Bengal, a tourist attraction because of its scenic beauty, in the northern part of Bengal and a part of the Toy Train ride to Darjeeling.West Bengal Tourism Department official website

The Department of Tourism of West Bengal has just released a video that has Bengalis all over the world simply going ga-ga, and it's not entirely nostalgia! The 3-minute-22-second video seems to hark back to some of the quintessential Bengali things, some that are not always associated with Bengal, and possibly the most apt tagline that the foodie in a Bengali could ask for: "Experience Bengal: The sweetest part of India."

Also read: West Bengal name change: There is no valid argument against it

What the video shows

The video is a welcome change for Bengalis all over the globe, who have been angry at and repulsed by news of possible communalisation of their home state. However, all that seemingly goes out of the window when this video — about a foreign girl's discovery of Bengal — starts to play.

It starts with an inter-cultural wedding — a Bengali girl weds a white Caucasian boy of foreign origin — and his family revelling in the colourful ceremony. It then cuts to a girl — possibly the groom's sister or friend — journeying through various parts of Bengal, from ocean-fronts like Digha and Mandarmani to mountain resorts and tea estates like in Darjeeling.

It ends with the girl's late-night encounter with Shah Rukh Khan in a tram, as the actor lip-syncs a Rabindrasangeet. Interestingly, the state is referred to as Bengal, and not West Bengal, possibly in keeping with the state government's push for renaming.

Avoiding tropes and traps

Barring the part with Shah Rukh Khan, the video works because its makers have worked hard to avoid some of the biggest tropes and traps that people working on depicting Bengal tend to fall into. Thus, while some landmarks of Kolkata are visible in the video, it is not a parade of all the tourist landmarks in the historical city.

Instead, the makers of the video have taken the efforts to showcase some of the more authentic and better-known artistic aspects of the state, like terra-cotta buildings and sculptures, Chhau dancers, Baul and folk singers, and some authentic Bengali cuisine [read: fish]. Another unexpected journey is through College Street — the old-book market at the heart of the city that can sometimes supply even the rarest of tomes!

However, some of the cliches do make an appearance, like Durga Puja and the accompanying sindur-khela — married women smearing vermillion on each other on Vijaya Dashami. Also, SRK serenading the aforementioned foreign beauty with a Rabindrasangeet about a Bideshini looks off-key, but then again the Raees actor had to make an appearance in some manner, because he is the Bengal brand ambassador.

Watch the video here: