| Actress Raima Sen sings with Bangla band Cactus at the Nil Nirjane promo launch on Monday. Picture by Pradip Sanyal
Two films, three locations, plenty of “new talents” and Calcutta crowds to cheer them on. It was a mix of Bollywood and Tollywood, Hindi and Bengali, on Monday. The stars of the show were out and about town to promote their respective movies, Chura Liyaa Hai Tumne and Nil Nirjane, and the film fans lapped it all up.
The day began with a trip to Pantaloons for the stars of the latest offering from Mumbai, Chura Liyaa…, Esha Deol, daughter of Hema Malini, and Zayed Khan, son of Sanjay Khan. The gathering at the Camac Street store numbered over 200 outside and about 100 inside, clamouring for autographs, a handshake and a few words with the star son-daughter duo. Esha and Zayed, both looking relaxed but tired (“it’s the traffic”) in blue jeans, dutifully waved, laughed, chatted and mingled with the star-struck, signing cassettes and posters of what is Zayed’s debut film. Half-an-hour later, amid frantic jostling and waving, the duo departed, leaving many a youngster, male and female, wide-eyed with wonder at their brush with Bollywood.
Cut to Park Hotel at 3 pm for a news conference, to talk about the film. This time, they looked well-rested and ready to answer whatever questions may be thrown their way. However, there were few takers, and fewer posers. “Cricket-crazy” Zayed doodled “Win and let live” and “India win!” to keep boredom at bay, and only came alive when talking about the game, grinning “go blue”.
Esha’s “I don’t think any film in the industry is a hit at the moment” sparked off a debate about the “trough” Bollywood has hit. “Thrillers are in and the old-style romance story-lines are out,” she claimed, adding that “Hollywood-type fantasy films” are what is required at the moment. Zayed — “we are Generation X” — insisted that it was “good for the industry”, but that “you need to be a shepherd, not a sheep, and take risks to do something new.” At the end of the lukewarm session, Esha whispered: “Why was it so thanda today' There were hardly any questions. Is no one interested in the film'”
Take three. Emami Landmark, 6.30 pm. Cactus crooning, a five-year-old boy dancing, a sari-clad woman tapping her feet to the tunes, everyone clapping and some humming along enthusiastically. It was a promotion of Tollywood’s “first digital film”, Nil Nirjane, boasting a star cast of Moon Moon Sen, daughter Raima, June Maliah, Mou and Bangla band Cactus in their first screen venture.
The audience though sparse, was appreciative. Despite June’s absence (she was home with her chicken pox-afflicted son), the onlookers were not disappointed. Designer Kiran Uttam Ghosh swayed along to the band belting out old favourites and new compositions.
Raima, who sings in the film, (“but Cactus told me I should stick to acting”) was persuaded by popular demand to hum a few lines. Speaking about her recent projects, she said: “Small budgets and unusual story lines are the thing at the moment, so, although commercial films are on my agenda, I am enjoying doing off-beat films in Mumbai and Calcutta. In Tollywood, things have improved vastly.”
Echoing Raima, Esha and Zayed, Nil Nirjane director Subrata Sen summed up: “Off-beat and unusual scripts are the formula at the moment, because that is what the people want.” So, the twain — Tolly and Bolly — do somewhere meet.