Calcutta, Jan. 19: Lights, camera… film city!
After Goregaon, Ramoji Rao, MGR and Noida, it will be Uttarpara.
Bengal took its first steps towards a film city with chief minister Buddhadeb Bhattacharjee, a film buff, earmarking a plot on the riverfront.
“The chief minister is considering a proposal for a film city and he has approached me for land. We have demarcated around 400 bighas in the Uttarpara-Kotrang area. It has GT Road on the west and the Hooghly on the east.
“The area has great scenic beauty and is ideal for such a project. The chief minister has liked the location,” mayor Bikash Ranjan Bhattacharyya told The Telegraph.
The value of the non-arable plot, held by the Calcutta Municipal Corporation, is estimated at Rs 100 crore.
“Work on the project is on. A joint inspection team will visit the site soon,” said municipal commissioner Alapan Bandyopadhyay.
This will be a dream come true for Bengal’s film industry, which has been lobbying long and hard for a film city.
“We thank the chief minister for taking this step. A film city is a must for the Bengali film industry to survive,” said Prosenjit, secretary of Artistes’ Forum.
The hero number one elaborated: “Most of our film productions are being forced to look elsewhere as there is no place here with all facilities under one roof, right from shooting to post-production.
“The volume of the television market is also expanding fast and the TV industry needs proper infrastructure and studios where it can work start-to-finish.”
The film industry churns out around 40 films a year, and over 70 per cent go beyond Bengal’s borders for shooting and post-production.
The television market is pegged at Rs 200-250 crore, and growing.
The proposed film city, hardly 15 km from Writers’ Buildings, is likely to attract producers from Orissa, Assam and Bangladesh also.
The flourishing Bhojpuri film industry, too, is likely to look east rather than west once the Uttarpara facility is in place.
“We are keeping our fingers crossed after the plan for the Sahara film city fell through a few years ago. This time, with the chief minister taking the lead, we hope the right kind of people will come forward to see this project through for the sake of the film and television industries in this part of the country,” said a film industry veteran.
The film city site will be directly linked by the second Vivekananda Bridge, presently under construction.
The plot is about 250 metres wide between the river and highway.
The illegal and indiscriminate scooping out of earth by brick-kiln owners in the area has caused severe erosion of the embankments.
Former mayor Subrata Mukherjee had once eyed this stretch for an entertainment park, but it never took shape.