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Amitabh, Shah Rukh glam up 20th KFF inauguration

Amitabh, Shah Rukh glam up 20th KFF inauguration

India Blooms News Service | | 10 Nov 2014, 07:32 pm
Kolkata, Nov 10 (IBNS) The 20th Year of the Kolkata International Film Festival (KIFF) witnessed a glamorous inauguration at the Netaji Indoor Stadium Monday evening.
The stage was resplendent with colour, glitz and glamour besides West Bengal Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee. But that was just the tip of the bubble. 
The programme began with a brief cultural programme comprising music and song rendered by celebrated vocalists and instrumentalists like Usha Uthup, Pandit Ajoy Chakraborty, Ustad Rashid Khan, percussionist Bikram Ghosh that were partly diluted by the audience’s impatient waiting for the main programme – the inauguration.
The special guests – beginning with brand ambassador Shah Rukh Khan followed by the entire Bachchan family – Amitabh, Jaya, Abhishek and Aishwarya, Amol Palekar, who is a member of the main jury, Tanuja, Irrfan Khan and last but never the least – Paul Cox the Australian filmmaker, were present. 
They came prepared to face the massive Bengali audience cheering every other minute and praised the audience for its open passion for cinema. Paul Cox, having recovered from cancer and has written a book on his experience, spoke little and appeared tired after the long-haul flight.
 After the usual giving away of trophies, the releasing of the festival brochure and the festival poster, the guests delivered well-prepared but brief speeches before the principal address delivered by none other than Mr. Bachchan. 
Interestingly, while Aishwarya spoke a few lines in somewhat accented Bengali, her mother-in-law Jaya Bachchan spoke mainly in English and appreciated the audience qualifying it as the best audience in the world.
 Tanuja spoke little, praising the Bengali audience remembering that she had not come to Kolkata for many years. 
Irrfan’s presence was met with a round of loud applause from the audience to which he said his name ought to have been “Dhonnobad” meaning “Thank You.” 
Incidentally, though he is married to a Bengali, he does not speak Bengali. Shah Rukh Khan spoke a bit in Bengali which was a well-written, crisp speech, never mind the accent but his English speech was pithy, precise, and ideally spaced out in terms of the power and the strength inherent in cinema  that can create awareness and initiate social change among the masses.
 Amitabh Bachchan’s speech was like a “research paper” prepared with pain.
The focus of his paper was on women in Indian cinema because this year, KIFF has become competitive and the competition is focussed on women directors from across the world.
 He began with the position of women in Indian society across time and space before arriving at the portrayal of women in Indian cinema. He stated how when women began to step into cinema, many of them came from respectable families such as Devika Rani, Durga Khote, Shobhana Samarth going on to emphasise on how the representation of women in Indian cinema has changed over the years from the submissive and oppressed wife and daughter to women no longer prepared to take it lying down.
Times for women, have changed – this was the bottom line of his speech. But he quoted from Tagore to show his fondness for seven years he had spent in Kolkata in the 1960s. He read out from a song from Tagore’s Chitrangada also, reading out its English translation.
He concluded his speech with two brief anecdotes. One of them deserves mention here. He talks about a young woman, a seventh-standard school drop-out who won Rs.50 lakh on his show Kaun Banega Crorepati. Her father had forced her to drop out of school because educating a girl was of no use. 
The girl left her home to go and live with her grandmother where her condition worsened. However, she was determined to continue her education over the hassles of doing backbreaking chores. 
When Bachchan asked her what she would do with her prize money, she said, “I will take this cheque and to show it to my father and will tell him – look, a daughter too, can do as well as anyone else.” 
Bachchan became so emotional while narrating this anecdote that his voice became heavy, he paused for a minute and exercised his own damage control the way only he can – he narrated another anecdote, a funny one, and walked back to his seat amidst deafening applause.
 The CM thanked everyone in her speech and showered praises specially on the Bachchans and on Shah Rukh Khan.  
 Filmmaker Gautam Ghose, veteran actors Sandhya Roy,Madhabi Mukherjee, Moushumi Chatterjee, Dipankar De, top actor Prosenjit Chatterjee, and Amol Palekar invited as Member of the Jury were on the dais too.  
About 137 films from 60 countries will be screened in the festival in 15 segments. 
(Reporting by Shoma A. Chatterji)