Bollywood’s fave director cannot stop gushing about West Bengal Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee
Yes, we are referring to the selfsame septuagenarian director who is known as the emperor of Bollywood romance. He can’t stop singing the praises of, hold your breath, West Bengal (or should that be Poschimbongo?) Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee. “I have met a lot of people and politicians in my life. But I have never seen someone as dedicated as her,” Chopra said. Chopra gushed further, “Mamataji helped me raise some issues about the film industry with the Prime Minister when I hardly knew her, two years ago. When the railway budget was passed, she ensured special concession for poor people from the film industry.”
So why was Chopra hobnobbing with Mamata-di? It’s because the annual film industry confab FICCI FRAMES finally recognised that a robust film industry exists outside of Mumbai and south India and decided to organise a conference in Kolkata. Grandiloquently titled ‘A New Dawn: Resurgence of the East’, the first ever FRAMES East Indian conference threatens to be an annual affair. Chopra met the feisty Bengal CM at the opening of the said event. Hang on. Did we say opening? Yes we did. In which case Cineswami must mention that the venerable Ramesh Sippy was also present, as he is usually to be found at the opening of anything, including a paper bag.
At this point gentle reader you must be bemused, thinking that while Bollywood names like Sippy and Chopra are fine, where are the resurgent easterners? They were there for sure. This being Kolkata, even the panel sessions had long-winded self-important names (not the Cineswami is besmirching the fair name of the city of anything, just slinging mud unwarrantedly). Thus the event had the pompous sounding panel discussion ‘Literature in entertainment: Opportunities for the industry from creative wealth’ featuring the great and the good of Bengal and Bollywood including Aparna Sen, Aniruddha Roy Chowdhury, Suman Mukhopadhyay, Anjum Rajabali, Apurv Nagpal (CEO of Saregama) and Ashok Wadhwa (some banker type). The chair was the even more pompous and the now nationally infamous windbag Suhel Seth, of whom the less said the better.
Being a Bengali working in Bollywood apparently ensures that you get invited to Kolkata and therefore Dibakar Banerjee was the star of the session that had the disappointingly prosaic (for Kolkata, that is) title ‘Avenues for marketing and distribution’. Sippy was present too and some filmmakers from Assam and Orissa. The audience however was in raptures when Bengal’s current superstar Prosenjit shared the dais with Randhir Kapoor to pay tribute to Raj Kapoor on what would have been the late multihyphenate’s 87th birthday, a day he shares with Prosenjit’s father Biswajit. Interestingly, Prosenjit gifted Randhir the weighty tome Satyajit Ray: A Vision Of Cinema. Hmm, guess it’ll come in handy to rest the Scotch and peanuts on back in Mumbai….