The Telegraph
Since 1st March, 1999
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Chamber query on Tollywood turnaround

The Federation of Indian Chambers of Commerce and Industry (Ficci) has requested the West Bengal government to identify specific projects and areas where it could do with some help from the Bollywood film industry.

The Ficci proposal comes a month and a half after it kicked off the eastern chapter of Frames, in association with the Indian Chamber of Commerce (ICC). Veteran film-maker Yash Chopra had shared the dais with chief minister Buddhadeb Bhattacharjee during the inaugural ceremony and pledged his support to trigger a turnaround in Tollywood.

“The response from Bollywood to the eastern chapter of Frames, a Ficci-ICC joint initiative, has been very good. Many of the industry bigwigs are interested in coming to Bengal. From production to distribution, the government controls a lot in the entertainment industry here. So, the government will have to specify the areas where it wants our help and guide us on our next moves,” said Nazeeb Arif, secretary-general, ICC.

The city-based industry body has already forwarded the Ficci proposal to the state government. It is also trying to organise a meeting for Yash Chopra, chairman, Ficci entertainment committee, with the Bengal chief minister. Bhattacharjee had himself requested the maker of films like Silsila and Kabhi Kabhie to spare some time for the ailing film industry in Bengal.

“Most film-makers from Calcutta go down south during various phases of production for technical help. If such facilities are offered here, the local film industry will gain immensely,” said Siddhartha Dasgupta, in-charge of the Ficci entertainment committee.

“There are quite a number of all-India players who are interested in setting up multiplexes, state-of-the-art studios and post-production facilities in Bengal,” he added.

The Chamber, in collaboration with its local counterpart, wants to facilitate the process of corporatisation of the local entertainment industry. They are also scouting for private investment in this field.

Already, companies like AdLabs and Inox Leisure have shown their eagerness in exploring investment opportunities in the state. Though bullish about Bengal’s potential of luring private capital, Arif added a rider: “The government must respond in a time-barred manner, otherwise the enthusiasm of some the players may fizzle out.”

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