Breaking his silence on the current socio-political climate of the country, actor Amitabh Bachchan on Saturday said the nation needs to fall back on its rich cultural heritage to resolve issues that divide the nation.
Speaking at the opening ceremony of the 21st Kolkata Film Festival, the Bollywood legend said: “Now, more than ever, we need to talk to each other when cultures are being questioned and prejudices against communities are dividing the world.” He was addressing a star-studded gathering, which included West Bengal Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee, at the Netaji Indoor Stadium in Kolkata.
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In a well-researched and erudite speech, Bachchan said Bengali literature and cinema has always reflected the tolerant nature of Indian culture. “Even today films remain the most persuasive form of entertainment. We need to learn form them,” said Bachchan.
He quoted from the telling fourth stanza of the Rabindranath Tagore’s Jana Gana Mana, Ghor Timir Ghan Nibiro, Nishithey Peedit Murchhit Deshey Jagrat Chhil Tab Abichal Mangal,Nato Nayan Animeshey Duswapney Aatankey,Raksha Kariey Ankey Snehamayi Tumi Mata (During the bleakest of nights, when the whole country was sick and in swoon, Wakeful remained your incessant blessings, through your lowered but winkless eyes, through nightmares and fears, you protected us on your lap. Oh loving mother).
Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee echoed Bachchan’s sentiment. “Mr Bachchan is right. These are intolerant times and the country is being increasingly factionalised. All religions mention peace and tolerance and we must always remember that,” said Banerjee.
The 21st edition of the seven-day film festival began Saturday beginning with 148 films from 61 countries. The opening ceremony was a star-studded affair with the likes of Jaya Bachchan, Moushumi Chatterjee, Vidya Balan and Sharmila Tagore in attendance.
“As a chairman of the jury of the competition section of the festival, I feel honoured to welcome you all. This festival is important because it has a special competition section for women filmmakers,” said Sharmila Tagore.