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regular-article-logo Thursday, 22 February 2024

Kolkata film festival: Come to Bengal and shoot your next film, Mamata tells Salman Khan; Bhaijan says 'I will'

Choose any location you like from the hills of Darjeeling, Kalimpong and Kurseong to the forests of central Bengal or the sea coasts, we will provide you with every support you need, Didi tells delegates at inaugural function

Sougata Mukhopadhyay Calcutta Published 05.12.23, 08:55 PM
West Bengal Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee, actors Salman Khan, Sonakshi Sinha and Anil Kapoor, director Mahesh Bhatt, former cricketer Sourav Ganguly and others during the inauguration of the 29th Kolkata International Film Festival, in Kolkata.

West Bengal Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee, actors Salman Khan, Sonakshi Sinha and Anil Kapoor, director Mahesh Bhatt, former cricketer Sourav Ganguly and others during the inauguration of the 29th Kolkata International Film Festival, in Kolkata. PTI picture.

“Ek bar jo maine commitment kar di, phir main khudki bhi nahi sunta” (Once I make a commitment, then I don’t listen even to myself). That quintessential Bollywood line from the 2009 Salman Khan starrer, Wanted, seemed to provide Bengal chief minister Mamata Banerjee the basis to extract a public ‘commitment’ from the Hindi film industry’s very own ‘Bhaijan’ that he would choose Bengal as his shoot destination for some of his forthcoming projects.

Bhaijan, on his part, expressed his admiration for the Trinamul Congress chief for continuing to live in a “very small house”. “I was shocked to see that Didi’s house is actually smaller than mine. How can somebody in this position have a house smaller than mine? This only shows how simple people are and we don’t need that much to live,” the actor said.

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Banerjee even shook a leg with the entire group of Bollywood celebrities on the inaugural stage with ‘Sahar Jurey Cinema’, the festival’s theme song, reverberating across the Netaji Indoor Stadium, the ceremony venue.

Advocating for a reverse migration of sorts from the Bollywood film fraternity to Bengal, Banerjee chose the inauguration platform of the 29th edition of the Kolkata International Film Festival (KIFF), 2023 to appeal to Khan, the festival chief guest: “Tell us, will you come back to Bengal to shoot? Would you come back at the next edition of our film festival?” Bhaijan, no prizes for guessing, was more than obliging. “I will be back to do my shooting here. That’s a promise,” he said.

Speaking at the star-studded KIFF inaugural dais, Banerjee reminded the gathering of the state government including the state’s film industry as part of the ‘Creative Economy’ sector in the recently-concluded state business summit. “Come and work in Bengal. This state should be your destination for filmmaking. Choose any location you like from the hills of Darjeeling, Kalimpong and Kurseong to the forests of central Bengal or the sea coasts of the southern parts of the state, we are ready with our infrastructure. We will provide you with every support you need,” Banerjee wooed.

Besides Khan, the KIFF 2023 dais looked a graceful mix of Bollywood and local celebrities with Anil Kapoor, Sonakshi Sinha, Shatrughan Sinha, Mahesh Bhat and Tigmanshu Dhulia at one end and state’s very own Sourav Ganguly, stars of yesteryears – Sabitiri Chatterjee, Madhabi Mukherjee, Lily Chakraborty, Dipankar De and Ranjit Mullick – and directors – Goutam Ghosh, Sandip Ray and Anjan Dutta – on the other. Actor-turned-politician Koushani Mukherjee played the part of the ‘thali girl’ of this edition of the festival.

Some 219 films from 39 countries would be screened at the week-long festival across 23 theatres of Calcutta, organizers confirmed.

“If our own Kumar Sanu, Arijit Singh and a whole host of others can successfully work in the Mumbai film industry, why can’t the reverse be true? The Tollywood industry comprises excellent talent and it’s only fair that creative personalities from both Mumbai and Kolkata should work together,” Banerjee continued with her advocacy. “We want you to come here and work with us when we need you just as we are ready to be at your side when you need us,” she said.

Actor and superstar Anil Kapoor referred to the founding contributions of cinema personalities from Bengal in what is today’s Bollywood and paid special tribute to the state’s Mahanayak, Uttam Kumar.

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