The Telegraph
Since 1st March, 1999
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Showbiz tonic for Tollywood

Give us land and we will turn Calcutta into an entertainment hub. That’s the promise Bollywood’s dream merchant held out to the Bengal chief minister on Friday.

Yash Chopra was leading a Ficci delegation that called on Buddhadeb Bhattacharjee to draw up a roadmap for the Tollywood turnaround (picture on Page 23). “The mission on this trip is to do some wonderful things for the entertainment business out here,” announced Chopra, after the meeting.

A start was all but made in the chief minister’s chambers at high noon. As talk veered to the plight of the government-owned post-production centre Rupayan — that lay idle while film crews from Bengal preferred the facilities down South — Bhattacharjee switched into ‘do-it-now’ mode. He asked if any private player would be interested in running the show at Rupayan. “And I told him that we are interested,” said A. Ramesh of Prasad Laboratories, where most Bengali films are processed.

The Ficci team, along with the Indian Chamber of Commerce, its local counterpart, placed a host of proposals, including the setting up of integrated entertainment complexes. “We want to create all-in-one centres with multiplexes, food plazas and shopping malls,” said Chopra.

The team also tabled a desire-list. “We want land at concessional rates and help from the administration in our fight against piracy. A single-window facility to address issues facing the entertainment business is another long-standing demand. He (Bhattacharjee) gave us a patient hearing and noted down all our suggestions,” said Chopra.

If Bhattacharjee came to the talks table with principal secretary Arun Bhattacharjee and chief secretary S.N. Roy, the Chopra-skippered Ficci team included Ketan Mehta of Maya Entertainment, Deepak Asher of Inox Leisure, Aveek Mitra of Saregama, Vikramjit Roy of Columbia Tristar, A. Ramesh of Prasad Laboratories and Manmohan Shetty of Adlabs.

At the end of it, the chief minister asked the E-team to chalk out a revival route for Bengal’s entertainment industry. “We will submit a detailed report in a month’s time,” said Arindam Chaudhuri of Planman Consulting.

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