Intellectuals join chorus against KIFF

Sudeshna Pal

Kolkata, Nov. 13 -- A day after Soumitra Chatterjee labeled the Kolkata International Film Festival (KIFF) a circus, support poured in for the veteran actor from a number of prominent film personalities, including filmmaker Rituparno Ghosh, who said the inaugural ceremony "seemed a little incongruous".

Chatterjee, who received the coveted Dadasaheb Phalke Award this year, said on Sunday, that the KIFF was losing its credibility, following the shift of the inauguration venue from the Nandan to Netaji Indoor Stadium. "Have you ever heard of a festival being inaugurated at a stadium? The film festival is losing its character and seriousness. A film festival is not a circus," the actor had said.

Ghosh feels the orientation of KIFF's inauguration ceremony didn't bear semblance with any successful international film festivals across the world. "The inaugural ceremony could have been less star-studded and more international. Despite a worthy speech by Amitabh Bachchhan, the dazzling display of stars from a particular Hindi film (read Jab Tak Hai Jaan), diminished the gravity of such an international occasion," the director told HT on Monday.

Director Buddhadeb Dasgupta "fully" agreed. While lamenting about KIFF losing its ties with international cinema, Dasgupta alleged the films had been selected halfheartedly.

"The selection of films has been done casually, without much thought or seriousness. I, with some other directors, started this festival 18 years ago to show good international films to cine buffs in Kolkata. Unfortunately, the festival's connection with good cinema has withered," Dasgupta told HT.

Another Dadasaheb Phalke winner, filmmaker Mrinal Sen, blames the government for turning the inaugural ceremony into a star-studded Bollywood show. "Officials wanted these Bollywood stars to be at the event, and so they were present," said the filmmaker. Sen said he had insisted that KIFF officials do not shift its opening venue to Netaji Indoor Stadium from Nandan. "I told them that a good inauguration ceremony could be organised at Nandan with just one-fourth of the budget invested at Netaji Indoor Stadium," Sen added.

Prominent filmmaker, Suman Mukhopadhyay, too, didn't think highly of the new avatar of the KIFF. "I don't find anything wrong in inviting Bollywood stars. But, forgetting the contribution of the legends, actors, technicians and people who are involved in film making in Bengal, is not a good sign. I didn't see the important figures of Bengal film industry on the dais."

Published by HT Syndication with permission from Hindustan Times.