Tollyganj: From box office to ballot box, where stars cross paths

THE political battlefield in West Bengal is a star-studded affair this time, with names from its movie and tv industries arrayed on either side of the divide. Now the rift can be taking part in out within the very residence of Tollywood — the Tollyganj Assembly constituency in South Kolkata that votes on April 10.

The TMC, which has assiduously courted stars in its climb to energy, counts Tollyganj as amongst its strongholds, having received the seat since 2001. For the final three elections, it has been received by the occasion’s Aroop Biswas, the West Bengal PWD Minister.

However, within the BJP nook this time is a reputation with as a lot star energy — MP, Union minister and well-liked singer Babul Supriyo, counted by some as amongst BJP chief minister candidates. The Sanyukta Morcha’s candidate is a reputation as at residence in Tollyganj: actor Debdoot Ghosh.

The Bengali movie business, with its neo-realist tales, was as soon as thought-about solidly Left-aligned. During his time as chief minister, Buddhadeb Bhattacharjee saved the Information and Broadcasting portfolio to himself.

The TMC’s outreach to Tollywood was led by its native strongman Biswas. Over the years, actors Dev, Moon Moon Sen, Shatabdi Roy, Chiranjeet Chattopadhyay, Mimi Chakraborty, Nusrat Jahan crossed over to the occasion, with a lot of them fielded as candidates to each the Assembly and Parliament. In the TMC’s 10 years of energy, movie stars have been a relentless presence in cultural occasions of the state authorities in addition to the occasion’s annual Martyrs’ Day rally on July 21.

This time the TMC has fielded well-liked actors Soham Chakraborty, Sayantika Banerjee, Koushani Mukherjee, June Maliah, Kanchan Mullick, Lovely Maitra, Sayani Ghosh; singer Aditi Munshi and filmmaker Raj Chakraborty as its candidates. Samajwadi Party MP Jaya Bachchan has been campaigning for the occasion.

However, searching for recognisable names in Bengal, the BJP has additionally gone about buying the identical from Tollywood. Many have joined the BJP, and actors similar to Payel Sarkar, Srabanti Chatterjee, Yash Dasgupta, Papiya Adhikari, Tanushree Chakraborty and Anjana Basu are contesting on BJP tickets.

Yesteryear Bollywood star Mithun Chakrabarty joined the BJP amidst a lot fanfare on March 7, and has been campaigning for its star candidates.

In July 2019, a brand new organisation known as the Eastern India Motion Pictures and Cultural Confederation, to symbolize the pursuits of individuals working in Tollywood, was launched within the presence of West Bengal BJP president Dilip Ghosh. TMC MLA Biswas and his brother Swarup Biswas maintain key positions in different our bodies such because the Eastern India Motion Pictures Association and Federation of Cine Technicians and Workers of Eastern India.

Supriyo says he’s assured of profitable Tollyganj by “40,000-50,000 votes”. “Aroop Biswas and his brother Swarup reign over the Bengali film industry and this constituency. Nothing happens here without their approval and consent. In the end, the people are suffering. It is very sad. There is a need to provide clean drinking water to the people, especially in slum areas. The Tolly Nullah (canal) needs immediate cleaning.”

Home to the famed Technicians Studio, Indrapuri Studio and New Theatres 1 studio the place famend filmmakers Satyajit Ray, Mrinal Sen, Ritwik Ghatak and later administrators Rituparno Ghosh, Goutam Ghosh and others shot their movies, Tollyganj can be a examine in contrasts.

If the mushrooming of movie studios right here since earlier than Independence lends it a particular sheen, the constituency is as well-known for the extremely polluted Tolly nullah, popularly often called Adi Ganga, that doesn’t simply run by means of the center of Bengali cinema but in addition previous Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee’s home in Kalighat. The canal continues to obtain untreated sewage and waste, and the National Green Tribunal’s intervention previously few years has barely made any distinction.

When there’s excessive tide within the Hooghly river, the nullah overflows, inundating adjoining areas. Among the worst affected are the slum dwellers, who dwell alongside the canal. Says a resident, refusing to be named, “The nullah stinks and is a breeding ground for mosquitoes. There has never been any serious work to clean it.”

Sitting MLA Biswas contests this, claiming there was lots of improvement below the Trinamool, and dismissing the problem posed by Supriyo. In the 2016 Assembly polls, Biswas had received Tollyganj by 9,896 votes. Even in the course of the 2019 Lok Sabha polls, when the BJP made main positive factors in Bengal, the TMC was forward on this section.

“From roads and electricity to water, all development works have been done by Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee. People can see it. They don’t have to listen to leaders making false promises like Rs 15 lakh in bank accounts or 2 crore jobs per year,” he says, speaking about a number of the BJP guarantees.

The TMC has additionally been taking part in the “outsider” card, saying the patrons of Bengali tradition in Tollyganj might by no means vote for a celebration just like the BJP.

Sanyukta Morcha’s Ghosh, who has been working as an actor for over a decade, has seen the movie business from up shut — in contrast to his extra illustrious rivals. His goal, he says, is to lift the usual of the movie studios to “international level”. “A large number of world-famous Bengali filmmakers worked here. The condition of these studios does not match the standards of Bengal’s golden era of cinema. Besides, the people of the constituency need basic amenities such as clean drinking water, drainage system and good roads,” says Ghosh.

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