KOLKATA: Bollywood stars Amitabh Bachchan and Shah Rukh Khan, accompanied by West Bengal Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee, lit the ceremonial lamp at the opening ceremony of the 18th Kolkata International Film Festival (KIFF) on Saturday.
Amitabh Bachchan was the first to light the lamp, followed by Shah Rukh and Banerjee.
Veterans from Bengali cinema also followed suit.
Bollywood biggies Katrina Kaif, Anushka Sharma, Mithun Chakrabarty and actors from the Bengali film industry, delegates from across the country and abroad, as also the creme de la creme of the culture-loving city were at the Netaji Indoor Stadium.
A vibrant orchestra by Debajyoti Mishra was the highlight, his troupe presenting a medley of evergreen Hindi and Bengali songs punctuated with some unforgettable Rabindra Sangeet.
As the band sung the ever-inspiring Ekla chalo re, both Amitabh and Anushka were seen moving their lips in harmony.
Amitabh had sung the song in Bollywood film Kahaani.
Banerjee herself felicitated the guests of honour including Amitabh and Shah Rukh by draping them with an uttariya (scarf).
The opening movie of the fest was Iranian director Asghar Farhidi’s A Separation. Shah Rukh Khan the film fraternity will do its bit to spread awareness about the dengue outbreak, which has led to deaths in a number of Indian states.
The disease also robbed filmmaker Yash Chopra, whose last directorial Jab Tak Hai Jaan (JTHJ), starring Shah Rukh, Katrina Kaif and Anushka Sharma, is releasing on Nov.13.
“As far as (I), Anushka (Sharma) and Katrina (Kaif) are concerned, if we are asked to talk about it (dengue) in any kind of form, we’ll do it,” Shah Rukh said at a media conference of JTHJ.
Shah Rukh, who is the brand ambassador of West Bengal, said in reply to a query on the dengue outbreak: “This is a new strain of the virus, even stronger than the previous one. This is prevalent in New Delhi and Mumbai too. This is a very big issue and I speak of the whole country, not just Kolkata and West Bengal.”