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Penny-wise CM melts for movies

Calcutta, Oct. 1: A day after his government announced austerity measures to counter a financial crunch, chief minister Buddhadeb Bhattacharjee said he was inclined to consider extending assistance to the film studies department of Jadavpur University.

Inaugurating a festival of workshop films by students of the department today, Bhattacharjee said: “The film studies department does not have adequate funds. We should help it, shouldn’t we'”

The government is grappling with one of its worst financial crises since Independence. Sanctions have been imposed on unnecessary car travel, telephone calls, lunch packets and even flower bouquets. Puja bonus has been slashed and festival advances discouraged.

Advocating tightening of the belt, Bhattacharjee has even criticised “wasteful expenses” like purchase of flowers. Vice-chancellor Asok Nath Basu pointed out that the bouquet presented to him today was not purchased from the market, but was an in-house product.

Teachers and university officials present described the chief minister as “a film buff and champion of a progressive culture not distorted by vices of the market”. They said Bhattacharjee was not only invited as the chief minister, but also as a film critic who was among the first to recognise Ritwik Ghatak’s genius.

Bhattacharjee began by outlining a brief history of cinema and then went into his version of film appreciation. He also recounted his experiences of watching movies in India and abroad.

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