Hills smile to conquer 'camera' & hearts - Mahima and Zeenat steal the show at Darjeeling festival

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  • Published 21.12.11

Darjeeling, Dec. 20: Darjeeling today smiled before the world with its tea, tradition and tunes.

The hills are set to charm the visitors in the next 15 days with the launch of the Darjeeling Tea and Tourism Festival here today.

“Smile Darjeeling, Smile! I want to take it back with me,” said Bollywood actress Mahima Chaudhary, before flashing her camera at the Chowrasta crowd, which posed at the actress’ request.

Speaking in lucid Nepali, she said: “This is my birthplace and I am very happy that the organisers wanted me to come here. Everything is as it used to be earlier, it is not commercialised and the people still have the smiles. When I went to Mumbai for my first audition, people there said they liked my smile, which I got from you.”

Mahima completed her schooling from Dow Hill in Kurseong and later graduated from Loreto College (now named Southfield) in Darjeeling.

North Bengal development minister Gautam Deb inaugurated the festival that was kicked off with a parade from Darjeeling Motor Stand to Chowrasta. Various hill community groups took part in the rally in their traditional attire with Mahima and Zeenat Aman in tow.

A traditional dance during the inauguration of the Darjeeling festival on Tuesday. Picture by Suman Tamang

The sounds of the traditional instruments like dhampu and madal reverberated across the town bringing back an air of festivity after months of agitation.

Perhaps touched by the warmth of the place, Zeenat has decided to extend her stay in Darjeeling by a day.

“I had come here in the 1970s to shoot for a film and things have not changed much. The personality of the people and the place remain the same. I am very happy to be among you and I am sure a lot of tourists would be coming to Darjeeling,” said Zeenat, after having sung two lines of the hit song Dum Maro Dum from the Hindi film Hare Krishna Hare Ram.

Not to be outdone by Zeenat’s singing abilities, Mahima, too, hummed a score from her 1997 hit film Pardes, in which she had acted with Shah Rukh Khan. As she sang I love my India, the crowd was only too willing to lend their voices.

Mahima also belted out in Nepali Musu Musu Hasi Dau Na.

The song became a hit by Shaan in Pyaar Mein Kabhi Kabhi. Amid the Bollywood glamour, Darjeeling also felicitated footballer Shyam Thapa.

The state government is organising the Darjeeling Tea and Tourism Festival after a gap of 18 years.