Addressing the audience after Bollywood stalwart Amitabh Bachchan inaugurated the 22nd KIFF at Netaji Indoor Stadium, Banerjee said: “Nowhere in the world will you find so many people coming from all strata of society sitting under one roof to watch a film. For this, it deserves to be included in the Guinness Book of World Records.”
Banerjee said that when she first asked senior state government officials if screening of a film was possible on a giant screen which could be watched by 20,000 people, many of them had their doubts. “I told them to think it over and today this has become possible,” she maintained. She thanked all the officials for making the event a success.
She maintained that the festival would no longer be confined to the elite as “it was for the people, by the people, and of the people”. The theme for this year’s festival is “Cinema for all and all for cinema”.
The chief minister added that a film festival was not possible in the city without Amitabh Bachchan and therefore, she invited him to the festival with his entire family. “Shah Rukh Khan is our brand ambassador but he does not take any money. Kajol would come with Ajay Devgn,” she said.
With China as the focus country, the 22nd edition of the Kolkata International Film Festival saw a glittering start on Friday in presence of Bollywood stars led by Amitabh Bachchan.
Shah Rukh Khan, also the state’s brand ambassador, regaled the audience at the Netaji Indoor Stadium by reading out a few lines in Bengali while Bachchan gave a speech on the role of women in Indian cinema, but ended by reciting the poem “Tu chal tere wajood ki samay ko bhi talaash hai” from his latest hit film “Pink”.
“Last year I requested Mamata ‘didi’ to not call me again this year as I have run out of ideas for giving long speeches. But I had to come as you know that Mamata ‘di’ doesn’t relent on any matter,” megastar Bachchan said.
Actress Kajol said that the enthusiasm shown by the people in the festival proves that there are only two things - religion and cinema - in India that people revere. Bollywood star Sanjay Dutt said the city enjoyed a special place in his heart because his mother was born here.
He praised West Bengal Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee saying it was she who had stood by her during his hard times. Actress Parineeti Chopra was also present at the function.
Bachchan has been attending the opening ceremony of KIFF for the last few years and to mark his association a book titled ‘Baritone’ which has all his festival speeches was released on the occasion. It was for the first time that a Bengali film “The Song of Life” by Abhijit Guha and Sudeshna Roy was chosen as the opening film of the eight-day-long carnival of cinema from across the world organised by the West Bengal government.
Altogether 156 films from 65 countries will be screened at 13 venues in the city. This year a new competitive category has been added to the festival. Award for Innovations in Moving Images will be given to encourage new ideas and new concepts, to pioneer a change in the realm of cinema.