KOLKATA: One hundred years of Bengali cinema based out of Tollywood in Kolkata would be celebrated at the 24th Kolkata International Film Festival (KIFF) that kick-started here on Saturday. Over 171 movies and 150 short films from 70 countries will be showcased in 16 screens of West Bengal during the film festival. The 24th edition of the film festival will end on November 17.
The event was inaugurated and attended by Indian and international film actors and directors Amitabh Bacchan, Jaya Bacchan, Bengal's brand ambassador Shahrukh Khan, Waheeda Rehman, Mahesh Bhat, Nandita Das, renowned Iranian director Majid Majidi, Australian film editor Jill Bilcock and Bengali film stalwarts Soumitra Chatterjee, Sabitri Chatterjee, Biswajit Chatterjee and Ranjit Mullick.
Speaking on the occasion, Shahrukh Khan and Mahesh Bhat spoke on the need to use cinema as a medium to safeguard the diversity of India. "In the 21st century, when despite the spread of technology something is making us divisive; the only thing that can bring us together is art, the most efficient among them being cinema," Shahrukh Khan said.
Director Mahesh Bhatt said: "We cannot reduce narrative India into one colour. This festival shows the idea of India: either we sail through together or we perish together."Actor Amitabh Bacchan narrated the importance of people on the film sets who silently make a film successful without any recognition and gave examples of such people who rose to become successful actors and directors.
He also applauded the efforts of the state government to conserve heritage Bengali films. Iranian filmmaker Majid Majidi said: "I salute the city of Satyajit Ray from whom I have learnt a lot."West Bengal Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee vowed to take KIFF forward to the levels of the Cannes film festival. "It is a big thing that Bengali film industry has completed its 100 years. The status of KIFF had been destroyed before we came to power and we restored KIFF to its original glory. Next year, we will celebrate 25th anniversary of KIFF in a big way. We want to make this festival like Cannes. I believe we can do it," she said.
KIFF committee chairman and noted Tollywood actor Prasenjit Chatterjee said: "Contribution of Bengal to Indian film industry is enormous from actors to technicians to directors, music directors and singers." Bengali stalwart actor Soumitra Chatterjee said: "I want to remember our predecessors whose sacrifice and dedication have built our film industry because of which we are seeing 100 years of Bengali cinema."