Event History & Culture

Alliance Francaise of Hyderabad turns 40

The team of Alliance Francaise of Hyderabad   | Photo Credit: Special Arrangement

Alliance Francaise Hyderabad will kick off celebrations to mark its 40th year in the city, on December 3. Some of the events will be conducted online (to register, check https://ifindia.in/40y-afh/#programme) to enable safer participation during the pandemic and in 2021, real-time events will unfold.

When a cultural organisation celebrates its anniversary, those who aren’t connected with it directly may at the most, nod in recognition before moving on to something else. Take a closer look at the origins of the organisation and inevitably, history can present something to pique everyone’s curiosity.

A file photo of Achyut Bhogle

A file photo of Achyut Bhogle   | Photo Credit: Special Arrangement

One of the founders of Alliance Francaise, in 1980, was Achyut Bhogle. He had begun his career as a lecturer of Chemistry in Osmania University but the love for foreign languages, especially French, prompted him to pursue PhD in France. He returned to India and taught French in Osmania University before Alliance Francaise was set up.

His son and well-known cricket commentator Harsha Bhogle gets nostalgic in a recorded video message and shares that growing up, he learnt to speak French fluently thanks to his father. Harsha studied the French language in Class 11 and 12 while his brother Srinivas Bhogle pursued post-doctoral studies in Mathematics in France. Harsha reckons that Hyderabad is among the cities that have been at the forefront of teaching French language in India and the 40th year celebrations of Alliance Francaise in the city is an occasion to remember the pioneering teachers.

Some of the members of Alliance Francaise of Hyderabad, 1980

Some of the members of Alliance Francaise of Hyderabad, 1980   | Photo Credit: Special Arrangement

According to archival information available from Alliance Francaise, the organisation was formed by a group of scholars, bureaucrats and personalities, to offer a taste of French culture to the twin cities.

Meena Reddy, 75, one of the first faculty members of the organisation and daughter of eminent scientist R V Tamhankar, puts things in perspective when she says, “I have been teaching French since 1965. In regular colleges, students might take French to score marks. A dedicated institute such as this attracts those who look for a deeper understanding of the language, history and culture and maybe pursue higher studies.”

She remembers the first batch in 1980 with barely seven or eight students. Today, nearly 2000 candidates including corporates, learn French at the institute. Meena exclaims, “It’s a joy to teach here.” This year, the faculty has switched to online classes. Meena remembers Alliance Francaise as a small centre with barely four rooms in Red Hills and gradually gaining more students and shifting to newer venues over the years — to Barkatpura, Shantinagar, the Birla Planetarium precincts, West Marredpally and now at Banjara Hills.

Alliance Francaise director Samuel Berthet informs that the 40th year celebrations will recall the connect between Hyderabad and France from the 1980s and 90s, through art, music and cultural events. There will be masterclasses in food as well. In 2021, expect a line-up of exhibitions including one that will explore the Indo-French scientific collaborations, by astronomer Pranav Sharma.

Samuel adds, “French artist Beatrice de Fays who has been visiting Hyderabad frequently in the last few years, will present a series of 12 paintings inspired by the city. The paintings will be interactive, where visitors can use their smartphones or tablets to decode the Augmented Reality animation and watch a narrative unfold.”

For more details, check https://ifindia.in/40y-afh/#programme

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Printable version | Jan 23, 2021 8:37:11 PM | https://www.thehindu.com/society/history-and-culture/alliance-francaise-of-hyderabad-turns-40/article33229639.ece

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