Star-studded beginning for Kolkata film festival

Paying tribute to 100 years of Indian cinema, the 19th edition of the Kolkata International Film Festival (KIFF) was kicked off Sunday by actors Amitabh Bachchan and Kamal Hassan in a function that saw the presence of who's who of Bollywood and Tollywood.

Declaring the festival open,Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee announced that it will be competitive event from its next edition.

"We are going to make the festival a competitive one in which the best of the films from Hollywood, Bollywood and Tollywood will be invited,'' Mamata said at the inaugural ceremony of at Netaji Indoor Stadium in Kolkata.

The chief minister made the announcement in the presence of the doyens of Indian cinema who included Shah Rukh Khan, Jaya Bachchan, Mithun Chakraborty, Aparna Sen, Konkona Sen Sharma, Prasenjit Chatterjee to name a few. Bachchan was the chief guest at the festival

Incidentally, film makers and actors with Left leanings including Mrinal Sen, Saumitra Chatterjee, Tarun Majumder and Buddhadeb Dasgupta were conspicuous by their absence from the function, which witnessed presence of stalwarts from the world of sports, culture, fashion and politics apart from hundreds of movie bluffs and fans of the stars.

Mamata also announced welfare schemes like mediclaim for artistes and technicians and free accommodation for awardees of Banga Bhibhushan. Supriya Devi, legendary heroine who starred in several films opposite Uttam Kumar, became the first recipient of this scheme.

Bachchan who spoke on relationship between Bengali literature and films, said cinema played the great role as an integrator in the society. "People irrespective of caste and creed rejoice at a scene of happiness and cry during a scene of sorrow. Thus it creates a bond among people," he said.

Shah Rukh Khan and Kamal Hassan, who also spoke on the occasion, dwelt on the role of cinema and how it grew to shape the Indian society.

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