November 11, 2011
Ma, Mati, Manush bonds with Bollywood, Shah Rukh Khan to be Brand Bengal ambassador
Kolkata, November 10: Chief Minister Ms. Mamata Banerjee inaugurated the 17th Kolkata Film Festival along with Bollywood actor Shah Rukh Khan and Bengal's own Sharmila Tagore. Later, Shah Rukh Khan agreed to be the brand ambassador of West Bengal on a request from Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee.
The Chief Minister made the request during an interaction with Khan on the sidelines of the inaugural function of the 17th Kolkata Film Festival.
During the interaction, 'Mr Khan is reported to have told Ms. Banerjee that he would be in the state whenever the Chief Minister calls him.
Mr. Khan said he had fond memories of his stay in Darjeeling, North Bengal.
Earlier, speaking at the inaugural ceremony of the film festival, Khan sung paeans to Kolkata, describing it as the country's cultural and literary hub which produced the best of Indian cinema.
"I believe that the history of our arts, literature, poetry and films cannot be written, or ever begin without the state of West Bengal," the Bollywood icon said.
Shah Rukh opened the festival at the Netaji Indoor Stadium alongside yesteryears actress Sharmila Tagore, began his speech by addressing Banerjee as “didi” (elder sister).
The CM returned the gesture by calling Shah Rukh “brother”.
But prior to that, while mounting the dais, the two stood at the aisle gesturing to one another to lead the way.
Ms. Banerjee, in her trademark cotton saree, was the first to reach the aisle, but stopped for Shah Rukh, who was on the way. The Bollywood celebrity, wearing a dark suit and sporting a ponytail, rushed in, came close to Ms. Banerjee and then requested her to climb the podium first.
But Ms. Banerjee seemed more eager to give him the right of way. The actor reciprocated by moving his hand and pleading with the leader to ascend the dais first. But Ms. Banerjee, known for his bargaining skills, finally won. Shah Rukh climbed the dais before the CM.
When the ceremonial lamp was being lit, it was Shah Rukh who gave a candle to the CM, who handed it back to him for doing the honours. They were soon joined by a string of Tollywood biggies – Prosenjit, Supriya Devi, Gautam Ghose, Ranjit Mullick, Aparna Sen, Haradhan Bandopadhyay, Sabitri Chatterjee, Sandhya Roy and Sandip Ray. Each of them was felicitated. "I really believe in the cinema of Bengal. We have some of the best cinema coming in from this part of the country," said Shah Rukh in his speech.
He said, "I believe that the history of our arts, literature, poetry and films cannot be written, or ever begin without the state of West Bengal."
Ms. Sharmila Tagore, Guest of Honour and a great-grandniece of Nobel laureate Rabindranath Tagore, said on her speech: "This is my home. I have grown up here and attended school here. My film career also began (with Satyajit Ray`s Apur Sansar) here."
"This is where I met my husband. This is where I got married. This city has wonderful memories for me," she said.
Ms. Mamata Banerjee said the festival was a tribute to "Tollywood, Bollywood and Hollywood". "Kolkata, as you know, is the cultural hub of the country and has a strong film culture. I am sure you would find that out during your stay and enjoy the visit," she told the visiting delegates. The Chief Minister specially thanked the delegates from "Turaska" ( Turkey) for making it to the festival despite the natural calamity that struck the country recently.
This is also the first occasion that the KFF has a theme song.