|Amitabh Bachchan and Shah Rukh Khan
Calcutta, Sept. 28: No one will dare hazard a guess if Shah Rukh Khan will deploy his considerable charm to bring together Sonia Gandhi and Mamata Banerjee again. But the Bengal chief minister has taken baby steps to bring Amitabh Bachchan and Shah Rukh Khan on the same stage.
Bachchan is expected to inaugurate the Calcutta Film Festival on November 10 following a request from the chief minister, and Shah Rukh, the Bengal brand ambassador, could well be on the same dais.
Sources close to the chief minister said she spoke to Bachchan this evening and secured his confirmation.
“Yes..,” Bachchan messaged The Telegraph tonight, asked if he would attend the festival.
“He is coming,” film festival convener Shibaji Panja also said tonight.
The festival will feature an Amitabh Bachchan retrospective and, as one government official said, “Didi was very keen to get him to open the show.”
The staid film festival, too esoteric for some and babu-dominated for others during Left rule, turned into a starry event oozing glamour after Mamata Banerjee became chief minister last year.
That she loves Tollywood is no secret and that she has a greater admiration for Big Daddy Bollywood is apparent from her choice of festival openers.
Shah Rukh had inaugurated the festival last year. For once, Bachchan would be following in his footsteps.
Earlier, Shah Rukh had slipped into Big B’s big shoes in Don in 2006 and then into the hot seat vacated by Bachchan on the sets of Kaun Banega Crorepati in 2007.
Asked how Shah Rukh could react to the choice, a Bengal official said: “He is still our state’s brand ambassador and it could well be that Bachchan and Shah Rukh would be on the same dais for Didi’s show.”
The last time the two stars were spotted together was at Rajesh Khanna’s house Aashirwad where they had gone to pay their last respects after the actor passed away in July.
The first time the two Dons had divided audiences was on Diwali Friday in 1998, when Bade Miyan Chote Miyan and Kuch Kuch Hota Hai had released together.
The last film where both were seen was Bhoothnath in 2008. In 2011, Khan teamed up with Big B and actress Judi Dench to promote Resul Pookutty’s foundation, which works to better the living conditions of the underprivileged.
Sources close to the chief minister said she wrote to Bachchan last month.
Mamata claims to share a rapport with Bachchan since both made their debut in parliamentary politics in 1984.
She got an opportunity to renew the ties during his trip to Calcutta in July 2011 for the promotion of Prakash Jha’s Aarakshan. After Mamata got to know that Bachchan was in town, she called him up at his hotel and “invited him to an adda”.
“We have known each other since 1984 when both of us became MPs for the first time and our seats in the Lok Sabha were close to each other,” she had said.
They could not meet but she urged Bachchan to alert her before his next trip to the city.
“Since then, senior officials in the information and cultural affairs department have been in touch with Bachchan’s office,” an official said.
“A confirmation letter arrived this evening,” the official said.
Trinamul Rajya Sabha MP Kunal Ghosh tweeted: “Breaking.. Amitabh bachchhan responds to Mamata Banerjee, coming to Kolkata, will ingrt Kolkata International Film Festival on 10th Nov.”
The chief minister’s nephew, Abhishek Banerjee, was not far behind. He wrote: “@SrBachchan to inaugurate Kolkata International Film Festival 2012 on 10th November. Thank you sir.”