Dada Moni was remembred through a Ashok Kumar Festival that was held in Kolkata recently. It wajointly organised by Nandan and the Tapan Sinha Foundation at Nandan between March 27 and March 29. Six feature films and a Films Division documentary on the actor-singer was complemented with a wonderful photographic exhibition with posters and newspaper clippings at Nandan IV. Present at the inauguration were Sandip Ray,filmmaker and currently chairperson of Nandan,Jadav Mandal,CEO,Nandan,filmmaker Basu Chatterjee,actor Amol Palekar,actress Moushumi Chatterjee and singer Usha Uthup. Trustee members of the Ashok Kumar Foundation comprising Ashok Kumars daughter Bharati Jaffrey,his grand-daughter Anooradha Patel and daughter-in-law Meena Ganguly were also present.
The screening programme and the exhibition were curated and organised by journalist Ratnottama Sengupta who gave a brief speech before the screening of the first film Howrah Bridge (1958) directed by Shakti Samanta. The other films screened on the following days were Parineeta (1953),produced by Ashok Kumar and directed by Bimal Roy,Shakti Samantas Anuraag (1972),Chhoti Si Baat (1975) directed by Basu Chatterjee,Tapan Sinhas Haatey Bazaarey (1967) in Bengali and Hrishikesh Mukherjees Aashirwad (1968). This proved to be a happy blend of some of the most outstanding directors the actor worked with during his long career. This included a mix of genres from comedy to literary classic to family melodrama to satire,presenting just a small drop in the ocean of the magnificent performances Ashok Kumar has left behind for generations to watch.
Bharati Jaffrey informed the gathering about how his children had set up the Ashok Kumar Foundation that is trying to commemorate his much-faceted talent through philanthropic acts. For example,as he was a very good homoeopath,the Foundation donates homoeopathic medicines to a clinic that takes medical care of deprived and poor children. It also funds solid scripts and its first benefactor was the Marathi film Shwaas that went on to bag many awards both in India and abroad. The theatre at Nandan II was so full of crowds that it almost became a law-and-order situation every day forcing the CEO to summon extra muscle for the security at Nandan.