‘Music lives in the air of Bengal,’ says Amitabh Bachchan

Kolkata: At the inaugural event of the 23rd edition of the seven-day Kolkata International Film Festival at the Netaji Indoor Stadium here, megastar Amitabh Bachchan said that the biggest revolution in the journey of film songs happened in Bengal.

Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee inaugurated India’s second oldest film festival, welcoming world cinema, attracting the finest of talents and embracing fresh cinematic experiments.

Bachchan said the music from Bengal could hardly be separated from the songs of Rabindranath Tagore.

“The biggest revolution in the journey of our film songs, you will be glad to know happened in Bengal. Music lives in the air of Bengal, from farmers singing in the field to children learning classical music in schools, from both boatmen and fishermen to Rabindra Sangeet, from Vaishnav Keertan to Baul songs. Bengalis love their music as much as they love fish and rice,” said the ‘Pink’ star.

“Beyond Bengal’s indelible influence, songs in our cinema have also been based on Carnatic music of South India, the lavani of Maharashtra, the Lohri and Bhangra from Punjab, the folk songs of Uttar Pradesh and Rajasthan, the Nautanki Music from Bihar and viberours and vigourous garba from Gujarat. Thus our films in all there diversity have united us as Indians beyond petty regional prejudices,” the ‘Piku’ star added.

Stating that music in Indian cinema is unique in its cultural implications, the Shahenshah of Bollywood said, “It has always spelt out the Indianess of our movies even when the songs of the background scores have been induced from western, African and Arabic sources.”

The star-studded event will screen an assemblage of 143 films spanning 53 countries under 16 different categories till November 17.

In addition, movies made in rare languages will be screened. Eight films in Monpa, Konkani, Kodava, Boro, Dogri, Maithili, Khasi and Chakma languages will feature in the ‘Unheard India: Rare Indian Languages’ section. This year, the festival will also introduce a new section, ‘Competition on Indian Language films’, to promote regional Indian cinema. While the best film in this category will win a prize money of Rs 7 lakh, the best director will get Rs 5 lakh. Ten films in nine languages will be screened in this section.

Delegates from countries like Italy, Germany, Turkey, Morocco, Iran, Serbia, UK, China, Sri Lanka, Argentina and others will attend the festival.