x Abu Dhabi, UAEMonday 24 July 2017

The UAE’s first Bengali film retrospective set to draw in the stars

Abhijaan, the UAE’s first Bengali film retrospective, will host the world premiere of Chaya Manush, a Bengali film starring the actress Raima Sen.

Parambrata Chatterjee, left, and Raima Sen in Chaya Manush, one of five films being shown at the UAE’s first Bengali Film Festival. Courtesy Priya Entertainment
Parambrata Chatterjee, left, and Raima Sen in Chaya Manush, one of five films being shown at the UAE’s first Bengali Film Festival. Courtesy Priya Entertainment

The Bengali film industry produces more than 100 films every year, but few are shown in the UAE, where Bollywood claims a big chunk of the film market. That changes this weekend, with a two-day festival organised by five Dubai residents at Ductac, Mall of the Emirates, showcasing some of the latest movies from the West Bengal film industry.

Titled Abhijaan, the UAE’s first Bengali film retrospective will also host the world premiere of Chaya Manush, a Bengali film starring the actress Raima Sen (granddaughter of the actress Suchitra Sen, who died last week).

Abhijaan, which roughly translates as journey in Bengali, is a collaborative effort of a few friends trying to promote Bengali cinema in the Emirates. One of India’s oldest vernacular film industries, it has been enriched by top filmmakers and actors such as Satyajit Ray, Bimal Roy, Mrinal Sen and Uttam Kumar, and is known for producing acclaimed and National Award-winning films, yet does not enjoy the kind of following Bollywood has.

“We do not see Bengali films in Dubai,” says Subhamitra Chatterjee, one of the festival founders. “You cannot find them in video libraries and they do not play in cinemas here. Only when we go back home do we have an opportunity to watch them and bring back DVDs.”

The team began planning the festival last year after collaborating with Priya Entertainment, a film distributor in Eastern India, to bring the movies to Dubai. They plan to make the festival an annual event.

On Friday and Saturday, the festival will screen five new films, including Rupkatha Noy by Atanu Ghosh, Phoring by Indranil Roychowdhury, Hanuman.com written by Gaurav Pandey, and Durbin, a children’s movie by Swagata Chowdhury.

Celebrities expected to attend include Arindam Dey, the director of Chaya Manush, and the actors Rudranil Ghosh, Arindam Sil, Locket Chatterjee and Kaushik Sen.

• Abhijaan is at the Centrepoint Theatre at Ductac, Mall of the Emirates, on Friday and Saturday, from 10am to 10pm. Tickets cost between Dh30 and Dh50. Call 04 341 4777 to book

aahmed@thenational.ae