The Telegraph
Since 1st March, 1999
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Twin-studio Tollywood boon
- Top-of-the-line infrastructure to push films off Bollywood path

To take movies out of the hands of “Bombay-based films and 007-type cinema”, the government must join filmi forces.

Chief minister Buddhadeb Bhattacharjee on Thursday echoed the tune he has been singing these past few months. But this time, he spoke from a podium — actually, two — which represents the fruits and future of such a labour.

‘Tollywood’ is shifting to Salt Lake, at least, that was where the action was on Thursday, with Bhattacharjee inaugurating two studios within an evening. First was a hi-tech floor at Roop Kala Kendro, with top-of-the-line video and lighting equipment, courtesy the Italian government, which gave the state-supported centre infrastructure worth Rs 10 crore.

The students of the Kendro video training institute will be the primary beneficiaries of the studio, which can “compete with any other in the country”. While the students specialise in social communication films, the studio will also be available to commercial film-makers.

“The best thing is that at this studio, we finally have an animation facility, for which we would have to run to Mumbai before,” said Bhattacharjee, thanking the Italian government, represented by Antonio Silvi, acting consul-general, for its support. He recalled how director Goutam Ghose and “an Italian friend” had presented a proposal for the centre in the mid-80s. “A decade went by, but the centre has finally started.”

The studio includes a centrally-air-conditioned floor, a lighting grid with digital dimming console, a production control room, analog and non-linear editing facilities, 2D and 3D animation and graphics software and a mobile production van, ideal for shooting in the villages.

The second studio launch on the Sector V-block was a more glittering affair. The chief minister rushed over to the “historic” Aurora Studios’ new centrally-air-conditioned floor. “I know Aurora as the distributors of Pather Panchali. I want to thank you for that,” he smiled. “Bombay-based films and 007-style cinema is holding up the industry now. But I know that if we try and find a path together, we will succeed.”

The first phase of the one-acre campus — including air-conditioned make-up rooms, a director’s room, a press lounge and even guestrooms for out-station actors and technicians — is complete. Bhattacharjee promised, before an audience of eager industry veterans, a cooperation between the Rs 2-crore unit and Rupayan, the failed government film-processing unit next door.

“This just may be the start of the Bengali film revival... Without a good environment, you can’t make good films,” said Soumitra Chatterjee, present by the chief minister’s side at both events.

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