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Toofan: 'I dream about Bengali cinema grabbing a place in top chart globally,' says Shakib Khan in Kolkata
Shakib Khan at Toofan press conference in Kolkata (R) | Image by Avishek Mitra/IBNS

Toofan: 'I dream about Bengali cinema grabbing a place in top chart globally,' says Shakib Khan in Kolkata

| @indiablooms | 08 Jul 2024, 02:23 pm

Bangladeshi superstar Shakib Khan paired up with Tollywood A-lister Mimi Chakraborty and Dhaka actress Nabila in Toofan, which released in India on July 5. As the actor was in Kolkata to speak about the big-budget film, IBNS correspondent Souvik Ghosh spoke to him on Toofan, Bengali films and more..

Q. Toofan has created a storm in Bangladesh. What's your current feeling?

A. Toofan is a collaboration between Bangladesh and West Bengal. We have a great collaboration between Alpha-i, Chorki from Bangladesh and SVF from West Bengal. Raihan Rafi, the director, is already known as the hit-machine. We have gorgeous actress Mimi Chakraborty from West Bengal while Nabila from Bangladesh. I am aware that this part of the world loves Chanchal Chowdhury.

Shakib Khan in Toofan | Photo courtesy: SVF Shakib Khan in Toofan | Photo courtesy: SVF

I feel there is no distinction between Dhaka and Kolkata. We are Bengali people as a whole and that's what our identity should be. We also feel as Bengali irrespective of being in Dhaka or Kolkata. This collaboration is working towards the development of Bengali cinema and its outreach in the world. About 30-40 crore Bengalis are spread across the world, so the figure is not insignificant. With a much lower population, films from South India, Punjab have performed remarkably well. So why should we wait? This bid to release Bengali films internationally started from Priyotoma, Surongo last year. People have rushed to the theatre houses to watch Toofan. For example in UAE, shows went housefull even without proper promotions!

Q. How does it feel to have the release of Toofan internationally?

A. Our cinema is not just restricted to entertainment but speaks about our culture, civilisation, people. It reflects the world of a community. As a Bengali cinema, Toofan has featured in the top chart in England. In San Francisco, where Hollywood films have been released, people have watched Toofan in theatres. The English-speaking people are curious about the film running in the theatres there. The Bengali audience watching and celebrating Toofan with their families inside the theatres in several countries prove how much Bengal is loved by people from the community spread across the world. So people in Bengal too have to show their support for the Bengali films. The trend of watching Bengali films in large numbers has somewhat slowed down in Kolkata due to the lack of commercial projects here in the recent past. I am optimistic that Toofan will sweep the box office in Kolkata as well.

Shakib Khan (L) and Mimi Chakraborty (R) | Image by Avishek Mitra/IBNSShakib Khan (L) and Mimi Chakraborty (R) | Image by Avishek Mitra/IBNS

Q. How hopeful are you for Toofan success in Bengal where commercial, mainstream films are rarely made now?

A. I wonder why people won't watch a commercial film in Bengal if they can watch Jawan, wait for sequels to Baahubali, Pushpa: The Rise. It is impossible to enter the Rs. 1000-crore club without commercial films. It is evident. We all want to watch a full-on entertaining film at theatre houses. The audience craves for a quality story coupled with entertainment in a commercial film. Moreover, I don't think there is a clear distinction between commercial and classic films anymore. All successful commercials have had a strong storyline along with other necessary ingredients and Toofan is no stranger to that combination. Toofan is a super commercial film to watch along with friends and family. It's a good film with an excellent storyline. I am sure the audience would love it. Inshallah!

Q. Why do you think Toofan will work in the Kolkata circuit when other commercial films are failing to achieve the desired result?

A. I think this question should not exist. If people can proudly watch even mediocre films in other languages, then can't they root for their regional films? Toofan has already created a storm in Bangladesh. I see no reason for Tollywood, which has the legacy of Uttam Kumar, to lag behind. The Bengali audience will have to support their regional films without overthinking.

Shakib Khan speaking to the journalists at Toofan press conference | Image by Avishek Mitra/IBNSShakib Khan speaking to the journalists at Toofan press conference | Image by Avishek Mitra/IBNS

Q. How do you see the decline in the number of theatre halls affecting stardoms of actors both in Bangladesh and West Bengal?

A. I don't want to divide Bengal in terms of films. I am keen to become the hero of Bengal. Not just in Bangladesh, which is my country, I have been loved by Bengali people in India as well. I have been showered with love when I worked in Bengali films in Kolkata earlier. If Bengalis didn't love me, Toofan wouldn't have been successful across the world.

Q. Do you dream about something even after achieving such a humongous success?

A. I love to dream about cinema. I dream about Bengali films excelling across the world and sealing a rank in the top chart of cinema globally. I feel elated and satisfied when I see such a dream coming true with a Bengali film garnering positive response and reviews from the audience.

Q. How was working with Mimi Chakraborty?

A. It was awesome, just like it was reflected in the Laage Ura Dhura song. I have seen Mimi Chakraborty as a very sweet person. She is versatile and that's why she is a superstar here in Tollywood.

Shakib Khan (L) and Mimi Chakraborty (R) | Image by Avishek Mitra/IBNSShakib Khan (L) and Mimi Chakraborty (R) | Image by Avishek Mitra/IBNS

The writer is a Kolkata-based entertainment, sports and political correspondent with IBNS. He can be reached on thisissouvikghosh@gmail.com

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