The state government has suffered a major blow, as no big central public sector concern unlike last year has yet doled out any funds for the forthcoming ‘Kolkata International Film Festival’ to be held in the city from November 10-17.
The festival’s budget of Rs. 3.5 crore (up from last year’s Rs. 3 crore), as a result, is in complete doldrums. For, while the Steel Authority of India Ltd. had alone chipped in a record Rs. 50 lakh last year for the Trinamool Congress government’s first grand film fest, several such biggies as Coal India, Gas Authority of India Ltd, ONGC and Indian Oil did not lag far behind. Those were the halcyon days of TrinamoolCongress partnership’s ‘honeymoon phase’ and the cosy relationship as integral partners in the UPA-2 government at the Centre were mutually rewarding in several ways.
But much water has since flown down the Ganges. Not only have the two parted ways, but both are now at daggers drawn. Therefore, the reasons for the cash-rich CPSUs suddenly turning close-fisted this year are not far to seek.
Repeated attempts to elicit a favourable response from even some of the Kolkata headquartered CPSUs during last few weeks have been futile.
The response from even such local bigwigs as the ITC, Srei, Ambjua Cement, Exide and CESC have also not been anything more than lukewarm, said a source at the Writers’ Buildings.
Festival organisers are not sure yet if they would be able to meet up even the bare minimum funds requirements for this big annual event on which the chief minister has already put very high stakes. She has already been gloating though over her success in netting Amitabh Bachchan this year for the inauguration of the festival along with the state’s ‘Brand Ambassador’ and Bollywood superstar Shah Rukh Khan.
The ‘Big B’ would be kept in good humour by holding a ‘retrospective’ of his popular films during the festival, as a mark of tribute to the actor on his 70th birthday.
What is even more distressing is that even though the much-hyped presence of these two megastars would not cost a farthing for the cash-strapped government, a lacklustre festival would surely bode ill for the future.
For, despite much deserved rejoicing over the ‘International’ tag for the festival from this year by the Paris-based global accreditation authority, not even a handful of European and Hollywood blockbusters have opted to participate in the Kolkata event.
The fading glamour of Kolkata film festival has surely much to do with the glitzy Goa international film festival that is staged annually almost immediately after the city fest.
Moreover, the Goa event being ‘competitive’ with all it’s glitz and glamour and crowned with the ruse of many frills and vaunted ‘Awards’, has got all the sheens to elbow out the mundane Kolkata affair, said an official.