It’s only 40 days to Forty Licks in Calcutta, and it’s official. Keen to cash in on the opportunity the high-profile event provides to put Calcutta on the world music map and sell the city as a hip and happening hub, the state machinery has moved fast to set the ‘stones rolling’ for the Salt Lake stadium.
Chief minister Buddhadeb Bhattacharjee gave his nod to the Rolling Stones event on Friday, following an appeal signed by members of ’Cause Calcutta, the core group behind the Rolling Stones initiative. Writer Amit Chaudhuri, actors Dhritiman Chatterjee and Sabyasachi Chakraborty, film-maker Ashok Viswanathan and entrepreneur Mudar Patherya, were among those who endorsed the ‘we want the Stones’ plea.
A vital shot in the arm for the Start Me Up troop came from state sports and transport minister Subhas Chakraborty. The minister gave an emphatic thumbs-up to the mega rock ‘n’ roll show slated for April 18, by blocking the stadium from April 13 to 20 immediately after being approached by ’Cause Calcutta on Friday morning.
“The response from the government has been extremely encouraging and it shows that the authorities feel the need for such an event in Calcutta to improve perception about the city,” said ’Cause Calcutta spokesperson Abeer Chakravarty. He, along with Sunil Mitra, secretary, public undertakings and industrial reconstruction, and WBIDC executive director Atri Bhattacharya met the sports minister. Fire minister Pratim Chatterjee and other senior government officials have also pledged support for the show.
“It’s now up to the corporate world with an eye on Calcutta to match the government push and make the concert happen,” said a member of the core group, who is in constant touch with ex-India spinner Dilip Doshi, the man behind the Stones’ India gigs.
“The response to the Rolling Stones initiative in just six working days has been amazing. The enthusiasm at every level is infectious and it’s the essential multicultural and inclusive character of the city which is pushing the effort,” said Atri Bhattacharya, adding that multinationals are “well aware of Calcutta’s potential as one of the biggest markets of rock music”.