The chief minister on Monday declared that she had allocated a five-acre plot to the information and cultural affairs department to set up a studio and an academy where telefilms and serials will be shot.
“We are building two film cities. Just like the film cities, we will set up Tele Academy,” Mamata Banerjee announced after her fortnightly meeting with her council of ministers.
“A lot of tele-serials are being made nowadays and a lot of work is happening. That is why we have thought of creating a separate space for television. Shooting as well as other activities will take place there. We have allotted a five-acre plot near Baruipur for the academy. A TV studio will also be built there,” she said.
An official of the information and cultural affairs department, looked after by the chief minister herself, said the Baruipur hub would be set up on a public-private partnership.
The core body of the Tele Academy was formed last year when some of its members performed at the closing ceremony of the Calcutta International Film Festival.
The committee is chaired by minister Arup Biswas. Television director Subhankar Banerjee is its vice-chairman. Among the other members are June, Churni Ganguly, Jisshu Sengupta, Raj Chakraborty and Aparajita Auddy.
A source said the members meet regularly to “discuss various issues for the development of the television industry, like instituting a TV award and creating a directory of artistes”.
Shibaji Panja, a member of the academy’s committee, and Shrikant Mohta of Shree Venkatesh Films went looking for land and zeroed in on the Baruipur plot.
“The studio is expected to house at least 10 floors and it should have proper landscaping. Our target is to get the foundation work rolling in the next three months and make the floors available for shooting within the next 365 days,” said Panja.
Mohta of Shree Venkatesh Films, which produces two TV serials, said: “Calcutta does not have a proper studio with adequate fire safety measures. So a fully-equipped studio will be great.”
But what about the distance between the city and Baruipur in South 24-Parganas?
“Baruipur is just a 40-minute drive from Calcutta. As it is we shoot all our TV serials in Mahestala, which is a 30-minute drive from the city. Baruipur will be well connected by road. People will be more than ready to go and shoot there,” Mohta said.
Actress June, a member of the Academy committee, has a request.
“On behalf of my fellow technicians I would request that the studio be made air-conditioned. It’s no longer a luxury. We suffer and sweat it out... people fall sick in the summer months.”
Sreelekha Mitra, one of the judges on Zee Bangla’s Mirakkel, too felt it was “a good initiative”.
She, however, has a suggestion: “I am not too sure of the Baruipur roads. Travelling takes up a lot of time for TV artistes. So I would also request for lodging facilities on the studio premises.”