Kolkata’s film fraternity turned up for the three-day IBFA awards extravaganza at Pattaya, Thailand. Lekha J Shankar
Thailand, which has become a popular location for shooting of Bollywood films, seems to be a big draw for the regional film industries as well, judging by the mega event that was held recently at the beach-town of Pattaya, near Bangkok.
This was the IBFA Awards Nite (Indian Bangla Film Academy), which brought the ‘Who’s Who’ of the Bengali film fraternity to Thailand. It was during the course of the three-day event, which was obviously closely modelled on the IIFA Awards (International Indian Film Academy) held in Bangkok in 2008, that one learnt how several Bengali movies, in particular the song sequences, had been filmed at this popular beach- town.
While it was a poor copy of the IIFA event, the IBFA, succeeded in drawing attention to Kolkata’s film industry, with 200 Bengali stars and celebrities flying in for the occasion.
The noted persons included stalwarts such as Gautam Ghosh and Aparna Sen (they were the ‘mentors ’ of the pioneering event), well-known contemporary directors such as Srijit Mukherjee and Anjan Dutta, popular stars such as Raima Sen and Paoli Dam, talented new faces such as Nusrat Jahan, as well as film stars - turned -Members of Parliament, Tapash Pal and Shatabdi Ray.
Tarakeshwar Singh of Jet Setters company, who organised the awards nite, said the aim of the $ 2 million event was to give a ‘brand value’ to the Bengali film industry. It seemed, instead, to give a brand value to Thailand as a film location centre, judging by the rave comments of the Bengali cinema personalities about the country.
“Shooting in Pattaya is like one big holiday!” exclaimed director Kaushik Das, who was all set to start shooting for another film at the beach-town, with Bengali actor Jishu Sengupta. The latter confessed that Pattaya was one of his preferred shooting spots.
That was why the Tourism Authority of Thailand was one of the sponsors for this glittery gathering and even the Tourism Minister was present at the awards event.
The three days’ extravaganza included a beach party where Aparna Sen and Anjan Dutt exhibited their musical skills on stage, and an important Bengali film, ‘Ekti Nodir Golpo’ that has not been released in India as yet, was screened.
This was the maiden directorial venture of art-director Sameer Chanda, who died before the movie was completed. That was why it was an emotional moment for his wife, Leela Chanda, and the cast of the film, to witness the first screening. Mithun Chakraborty has given a splendid performance in the movie, which resurrects the magic and majesty of the quintessential ‘Bengali’ cinema, and whose release is eagerly awaited in Kolkata.
As for the actual awards night at the magnificent Thai Alangkarn Theatre, there were bunglings and faux pas due to poor organisational skills. Despite the hiccups, the occasion was significant because it brought to the forefront the best names in contemporary Bengali cinema.
Somnath Gupta won the Best Film award for his much-talked-about ‘Aami Adu,’ Srijit Mukherjee won the Best Director award for his psychological thriller, ‘Baishe Shrabon,’ Neel Dutta and Anjan Dutta won awards for their mellifluous compositions in ‘Ranjana,’ Rudranil Ghosh won the Best Actor award for his role in ‘ Chaplin’, while Konkona Sen-Sharma won the Best Actress award for her moving performance in ‘Iti Mrinalini.’ ‘Bye Bye Bangkok’, which was shot in Pattaya, won applause for getting the Best Editor award. Rituparna Sengupta was the ‘face’ of the event and won the Critics Choice for Best Performance for ‘Bedeni ’.Nusrat Jahan won the Most Promising Face award, while the sultry, sexy Paoli Dam, dressed unexpectedly in a traditional sari, won the award for Most Popular Actress.
While singers June Bannerjee and Monali Thakur regaled the audience with their popular songs, it was Thailand’s famous pop singer, Tata Young, who set the stage on fire with her pulsating energy and ‘hit’ songs, including the famous ‘Dhoom Dhoom’ number.
The spectacular entertainment, from the Khon dances to puppetry and the grand Ramayana ballet, was a true reflection of the cultural richness of ‘Amazing Thailand .’
At one point, director Gautam Ghosh was made to sit on a throne, surrounded by dancers, even as it was announced that the ‘Director was King’ (a la ‘ Singh is King’). Gautam Ghosh was given the Hall of Fame Award for his cinematic achievements, which was majestically presented by five top Bengali directors. He said, “I’m proud that the event has brought together the Bengali industry under one roof, in one of our favourite foreign destinations.”
Ghosh’s ‘crowning’ was certainly one of the highlights. One of the ‘lows’ of the event was when the Lifetime Achievement Award was announced for legendary Bengali actress Suchitra Sen, and no one, neither her daughter Moon Moon Sen nor granddaughters Raima and Riya , was present in the hall to receive it although they were present at the gala. It was another example of poor communication and coordination.
Director Gautam Ghosh left after the event, to resume shooting for his new film, ‘Act Zero’. He was also happy about a mega Italian co-production, ‘Lala,’ that he would be working on soon.
Meanwhile, Aparna Sen, whose film ‘Iti Mrinalini’ won her the Best Director award, was excited about the new film, ‘Goynar Baksho,’ that she was shooting with daughter Konkona, especially as this was the latter’s comeback movie after her baby. Accompanied by husband Kalyan, the attractive couple said that the Pattaya jamboree was a great ‘get-together’ for the Bengali film fraternity, especially as Thailand was a favourite destination for most of them.