Saffron stokes a storm in Bengali cinema
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Saffron stokes a storm in Bengali cinema

By Newindianexpress calender  28-Jul-2019

Saffron stokes a storm in Bengali cinema

On a sultry Thursday, film actress Parno Mittra, having joined the BJP, sat on her balcony wondering how to satiate the curiosity of newsmen who assailed her. Ranjana Ami Aar Ashbona, one newsman pleaded teasingly over the phone after Anjan Dutta's triple national award-winning Bengali film which turned her into a star overnight. She smiled-wryly.
The Kurseong educated girl, 32, does not know how to deal with the media throng-the same that had ‘confronted’ her at the start of her acting career with Rabi Ojha’s Bengali TV series Khela (2007) which was the first step towards stardom-first as lead character Mohona, which won her the best actress award, and then opposite Abir Chatterjee in Shomoy and Bou Kotha Kao. 
It’s with some difficulty that one convinces her to the open up about politics in her life now at Urbana-a posh apartment off the Eastern Metropolitan Bypass in South Kolkata-a far cry from her earlier Ballygunje residence. “There’s too much politics in Bengal films now. I have to be a cardholder of this or the other party. Am I fully loyal- it’s tested inside out. I hate it; so do most others. It’s so demeaning for artists who need to be independent thinking, creative, not stick in the mud.
If my films cannot be shown to audiences when they ought to see it and so scheduled as to be lost, what’s the fun in creativity? And, if it’s because of my not being in politics, why not something new?’ she wondered, refusing more bytes. In fact, there is a political ‘war’ on in West Bengal to capture the mind space of people before the D-Day for the next joust in 2021.
And, this war is presently centred around which of the competing political parties can lay claim to the undivided loyalty of Tollywood and its stars so as to be able to use the cultural power and symbolism embedded in the Bengali psyche to reinforce their own standing in Bengal. 
Given the clout that megastars have wielded since Trinamool captured power and thrust Bengali cinema stars on to political centre stage, there progressively is this realization among its opponents that winning a political war is not just about deep pockets, the philosophy or content, but also how subtler approaches and the sense of drama can be used to find a theme that Bengal society and communities can easily relate to. The message: “The simple and the subtle matter too,” said a BJP neta.
The fight for the celluloid spark to light up politics became clear when the up and rising BJP thrust on to centre stage 11 personages from tinsel town on July 19, including Parno Mittra, Rishi Kaushik, Kanchana Moitra, Rupanjana Mitra and Rupa Bhattacharya. Not that they yet match up to the draw that Mamata Banerjee’s Trinamool can arraign on celluloid count. But the BJP’s message was simple and straight-that it was out to counter the TMC here too and that the Saffronities, having inducted the likes of Babul Surpiyo and Rupa Ganguly successfully, would not stop in its quest to parade more star power to match and field.
 

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