BJP and Bagga underestimated the emotional pull that the ‘College Street Coffee House’ as it is known to differentiate it from other branches has exercised over generations of Bengalis. Ever since the Coffee House was set up in 1942 in the vicinity of Calcutta University and Presidency College, it drew passionate youth, students, writers, poets and artists besides activists who all wanted to usher in positive changes. It was always a secular place, embraced fierce debates and claims a galaxy of icons and legends as its patrons.
The heritage building, once home to philosopher and social reformer Keshab Chandra Sen, over the years hosted among others Satyajit Ray, Aparna Sen and Amartya Sen. Before independence it hosted many brainstorming sessions of Indian revolutionaries.
In an interview, celebrated author Sunil Gangopadhyay, who stopped going to the Coffee House because he felt it should be left for the younger lot, recalled, ‘The poets had their own table, the short story writers theirs, and the film-makers their own. Artists Prakash Karmakar and Bikash Bhattacharjee and playwright Mohit Chattopadhyay would be around.’
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