Even though cinematic legends of today – Amitabh Bachchan and Shah Rukh Khan – will grace the inaugural ceremony of the 20th Kolkata International Film Festival (KIFF) on November 10, a much bigger star – a ‘Mahanayika’, no less, in Bengal – will draw all the attention even without her presence.
A special section has been earmarked as a tribute to the legendary Bengali actress, Suchitra Sen, where seven of her films will be screened. She died on January 17 this year in Kolkata.
The seven films to be screened in the tribute section are among her most popular – Agnipariksha, Uttar Fhalguni, Harano Sur, Chawa Paowa, Megh Kalo, Debdas and Aandhi. Aandhi is the only Hindi film to find a place in the collection.
Suchitra Sen, the original diva of Bengali cinema will be the theme of the opening ceremony of KIFF. Six decades ago this sweetheart of Bengali cinema first set the celluloid screen on fire with her enigmatic performance. Suchitra Sen aka Rama Dasgupta was born in Pabna, now in Bangladesh, on April 16, 1931 to a school teacher father and a home-maker mother. She was 16 when she married Dibanath Sen, scion of a wealthy business family in Kolkata.
Her rise to stardom was meteoric. She is especially known for her performances opposite the evergreen hero, Uttam Kumar in films like Sagarika (1956), Harano Sur (1957) and Saptapadi (1961). Accolades also poured in from everywhere, including her first international award for best actress for Saat Paake Bandha at the Moscow International Film Festival in 1963. The Padma Shri, one of the country’s highest civilian awards, came her way in 1972.
"The festival, which celebrates cinema, is the ideal place to pay tribute to the late actress, as her contribution to Indian cinema is unparalleled," said a source close to the festival.
The 20th edition of the Kolkata International Film Festival, according to KIFF director Yadab Mandal, would be bigger and better. It would see an exciting new competition section where 15 films by women directors from all over the world would fight it out. Another new section would be the Bengali Panorama, where five films by Bengali film-makers would have their world premiere. The full festival would screen 137 films from 60 countries, spread over 14 segments, including 31 Indian films, 13 of which would be Bengali. There is also a short and documentary films section, comprising 118 films.
The Satyajit Ray Memorial lecture will be delivered by director Govind Nihalani. Forty international delegates as well as many Indian ones have been invited for this eight-day tour de force, which concludes on November 17. "It will be bigger and better. This year onwards we will start competitive segments. For the 20th edition, the award theme is international women directors," said KIFF director Yadab Mandal.
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