Calcutta, Nov. 1: Going… going… going through the motions.
What chief minister Buddhadeb Bhattacharjee seems to do at Writers Buildings these days with a scowl, the chief patron of the Calcutta Film Festival did with a smile at Nandan on Monday evening. Going through the motions, that is.
Sharing details of the 16th edition of his pet project that gets under way next week, Bhattacharjee used words and phrases like unnecessary and makes no sense to defend and define the decline of the annual celebration of world cinema.
Its a practical approach. Today it is very easy to get access to foreign films and you can watch films from all over the world sitting in your home, the chief minister shrugged, explaining why the film count had dropped from around 250 to 127.
If you look for them, you will easily get the (DVDs of) films we are screening this year, he added.
The festival has been his baby since its inception in 1995. With not enough films to screen, the 9am shows have been scrapped.
Bhattacharjees bottomline? Quantity should not be the benchmark for quality.
On an evening when Mamata Banerjee was courting industrialists, the chief minister shrugged off the drying up of funds flow. Not so long ago, industrialists would trip over each other to host a tea party or dinner at the Calcutta Film Festival. Now most have reached out to the other side.
Tea parties and dinners are unnecessary, announced Bhattacherjee, adding in Bengali: Joto tuku naa korlei noy toto tai korchhi (We are doing the bare minimum).
Was he referring to the film festival or the state of governance?
The pruning of the festivals budget was touted as a positive by Bhattacharjee. The government will profit if the budget is slashed, he said with a hint of a smile.
Why no film market and why hardly any foreign delegates? The market never translates into business, declared Bhattacharjee. As for foreign delegates, it makes no sense in inviting the international critics and producers, he said.
Before the evening was done, Bhattacharjee had all but spelt out his precious film festivals epitaph: When we started this festival, this was the only way you could watch such films, but now….