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Tolly’s ticket to ride beyond boundaries

Tollywood is finally trying to go places.

Till now, Delhi and Mumbai were the only major stops on Tolly’s national release map but come Friday, the probashi Bengalis of even Lucknow, Pune and Visakhapatnam will get the chance to catch its newest release Ekti Tarar Khonje.

Producer Screenplay Films and distributor Arijit Dutta have plotted “a first-of-its-kind nationwide release” for Ekti Tarar Khonje on June 25. The urban thriller with which cinematographer Avik Mukhopadhyay — of Chokher Bali and Bunty Aur Babli fame — turns director in Tollywood stars Dhritiman Chaterji, Shayan Munshi and Arpita.

According to the distribution plan, Ekti Tarar Khonje will be shown simultaneously from June 25 at multiplexes like Cinemax, Fame, INOX and PVR in Delhi, Mumbai, Lucknow, Pune and Visakhapatnam, apart from screens in Bengal. Talks are on for shows in Ahmedabad and Bangalore.

Previously, Anjan Dutt’s The Bong Connection had gone in for a same-day release in Mumbai, Delhi, Bangalore, Pune and Darjeeling, while Aniruddha Roy Chowdhury’s Anuranan was shown at theatres in Mumbai, Delhi and Pune long after its Bengal release.

“A lot of Bengali films like Chokher Bali and The Japanese Wife have released outside Calcutta but it was never done in an organised way. Also, it would happen at least a week or two after its release in Calcutta. This is for the first time that a Bengali film will find a simultaneous nationwide release,” said Tollywood star Prosenjit, speaking on behalf of the Bengali film fraternity, at Galerie 88 on Tuesday.

Arijit Dutta, who is also playing an active part in reaching Ekti Tarar Khonje to the non-resident Bengalis of North America, feels Bengali films should tap the “probashi Bangali” pockets scattered across the country to generate revenue.

“There are lots of Bengalis in cities like Delhi and Mumbai who are aware of the urban, cerebral Bengali films being made in Calcutta, and they want to see these films. I know many who come to town and go back with pirated CDs. Reaching out to them can help generate reasonable business,” he said.

“We’ve alarmingly lost single-screen halls in the city in the past six years. We don’t have a way out other than crossing borders. Commercial potboilers are difficult to market outside but we do have an audience for the new-age Bengali films,” Dutta explained.

Antaheen maker Aniruddha Roy Chowdhury, of Screenplay Films, is optimistic about Bengali films striking a chord with the non-Bengali crowd as well. “Films are crossing the language barrier now and we’re hopeful of finding a mixed audience for good Bengali films. If Ekti Tarar Khonje draws decent footfall, we’ll know that the market for Bengali releases has opened up.”

As part of the promotional plans, the film’s lead pair Shayan and Arpita will visit Delhi and Mumbai theatres before heading for the screenings in the US in early July.

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