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Lights, camera, action: KIFF gets underway

Kolkata: The 23rd edition of the Kolkata International Film Festival (KIFF), India's second oldest film festival, rolled back into the eastern metropolis on Friday, welcoming world cinema, attracting the finest of talents and embracing fresh cinematic experiments.
Beginning with a star-studded inaugural at Netaji Indoor Stadium on Friday, the gala event, hosted by the Bengal government, will screen an assemblage of 143 films spanning 53 countries under 16 different categories till November 17.
Megastars Amitabh Bachchan, Shah Rukh Khan and Kamal Haasan, besides British filmmaker Michael Winterbottom and Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee were present at the inaugural function.
The KIFF has become the landmark for showcasing best cinema across the world and he is happy to be back in a city which always holds special memories, Bachchan said.
Talking about the role of music in Indian cinema as a binding force, Big B emphasized on how music has promoted national integrity in the country through cinema. As an example, he cited "Madhuban mein radhika nache re,"a Hindi bhajan that was composed by Naushad and sung by Mohammed Rafi. The song is still considered to be the epitome of national integrity.
Bachchan, who delivered the main address on the inauguration, said the Rajesh Roshan composedChukar mere man ko song which was shot in the same Netaji Indoor Stadium, the festival inauguration venue, for the film Yaarana.
Acting legend Kamal Haasan said his heart swelled with pride to be considered family by the people of Kolkata.
Shah Rukh Khan said: "It is a wonderful feeling to come back to Kolkata and be with all of you and a big round of applause for you all for making this successful."
Wowing fans with a fresh attempt at Bangla, the superstar sought a traditional Bengali "dhoti" for the next edition, promising to be fluent in the regional language. The Chief Minister, on her part, promised the attire readily.
In her concluding remarks, the Chief Minister said: "Amitabh Bachchanji was talking about national integrity. I must say in our country there is unity in diversity and unity is our strength. Such a nice atmosphere would not have been created if everyone had not come together." She also appreciated the role of Mahesh Bhatt in uniting the country. Bhatt appreciated the move that has been taken to screen movies in rare Indian languages.
The Chief Minister further added: "Nowhere film festival is organised in such a magnitude. I feel the film festival in Bengal is the biggest in the country. The KIFF had lost its international character till 2011. We restored it in 2012 and today delegates from more than 20 countries are attending the film festival."
She further stated: "Many people raise questions about (us) organising festivals. Why won't we hold the festival? Why won't we celebrate Durga puja? We will do everything. 13 festivals in 12 months is our culture. Life cannot be lived if one waves flags and says "Zindabad". One has to keep calm. One has to live with everyone. Those who are envious... let them be."
Seeking an audience opinion on Amitabh Bachchan's invitation next year at the film festival, she said: "Amitabhji was saying not to invite him anymore. But I would like to say that the film festival will not be complete without you." She also asked the same question for Shah Rukh as well and the spectators responded in affirmation.
Filmmaker Mahesh Bhatt, actor Kajol, singer Kumar Sanu were also present on the stage along with a galaxy of Bengali film personalities including 23rd KIFF chairperson and veteran actor Sabitri Chatterjee.
Iranian film maker Mostafa Taghizadeh's Yellowwas screened at a very large screen at the indoor stadium after the inaugural programme.
The Chief Minister also excused herself for not being able to attend the week-long festival in its entirety due to her forthcoming London visit. She will officiate as the chief guest at a programme in Sister Nivedita's family home in Wimbledon on November 12 where she will unveil a Blue Plaque.
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