Mamata urges Bollywood to invest in West Bengal film industry

West Bengal Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee with Bollywood actor and TMC lawmaker Shatrughan Sinha. Photo: AP/PTI

Can money from Bollywood producers be married with the "talent" of Bangla film industry in India's West Bengal?

This question has cropped up as West Bengal Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee called for investments from Bollywood to the Bangla film industry. She said this while inaugurating the 27th edition of Kolkata International Film Festival (KIFF) at Kazi Nazrul Islam Mancha in New Town on Monday (April 25, 2022) evening.

She said the Bangla film industry might lack financial resources but the movies it produces are deeply rooted to the soil, reports our New Delhi correspondent.

Keeping investments from Bollywood in mind, the West Bengal government made Bollywood actor-turned-TMC lawmaker Shatrughan Sinha the chief guest of the inaugural ceremony.

Mamata urged Shatrughan Sinha to bring investments to the Bangla film industry, "which churns out rich content".

"Bangla films are the best in world, deeply rooted to the soil here. West Bengal is a storehouse of talents. Bollywood has money, people to invest… I appreciate that. I would request Shatrughan ji to help the Bengali film industry by bringing more investments," the CM said.

She also said West Bengal is gifted with scenic landscapes for film shoots. "We have sea beaches, deep forests, wildlife like Royal Bengal Tiger. We also have state-of-the-art shooting complexes like Telly Academy near Kolkata, where international-level infrastructure is available for both fiction and non-fiction content," Mamata said and pointed out that films like "Pather Panchali" and "Meghe Dhaka Tara" got made here.

Shatrughan Sinha has acted in more than 250 Hindi films but just one in Bangla – "Antarjali Jatra" directed by Goutam Ghosh.

Mamata wanted Bangla cinema to be given industry status which would enable it to avail easier bank loans and tax concessions among other things.

She said it was "an oversight" on her government's part not to include Bangla cinema in last week's Bengal Global Business Summit held in Kolkata and ordered that the state's film sector be included in next Bengal Global Business Summit to be held next year.

Listing the initiatives being undertaken by her government, Mamata said digitization and restoration of film classics and documentaries by renowned filmmakers were underway and a cine museum is being built which will house memorabilia of Bangla film industry.

A total of 163 films, including 47 from abroad, will be screened during the ongoing film festival at ten venues across the state from April 25 to May 1.

Satyajit Ray's "Aranyer Din Ratri" was the inaugural film of the festival.

Superstars Prasenjit Chatterjee, Deepak Adhikari and Parambrata Chatterjee were among those present.