Bengal Minister-directed film is first included for IFFI, then dropped

Dictionary was initially among 5 Bengali films selected for the Indian panorama section of the festival

A Bengali feature film whose director is now the Education Minister of West Bengal finds itself excluded from — after being included in — the list prepared for screening at the Indian panorama during the international film festival in Goa.

The 52nd edition of the International Film Festival of India (IFFI) begins on November 20 and — according to the official list released on November 5, as many as five feature films and two non-feature films in the Bengali language were picked up for the Indian panorama.

The feature films included Dictionary, which released early this year during Saraswati Puja, and even ran house full before the second wave of COVID-19 began sweeping through the country. Bratya Basu, the director of the film, subsequently became the Education Minister of West Bengal after the Trinamool Congress won the Assembly elections in the State in May this year.

Dictionary has, in the lead, two highly popular Bengali actors — Nusrat Jahan (also a Trinamool Congress MP) and Abir Chatterjee — and its inclusion in the Indian panorama was celebrated by the local media, and the Bengal film fraternity rejoiced. A fresh list released by the Ministry of Information and Broadcasting on November 6, however, did not include Dictionary.

The reason behind its exclusion is not clear yet. For that matter, even its inclusion appeared to be a last minute decision and an afterthought, considering it figured at the bottom of the list, at no. 25, even though the other Bengali films selected had been grouped — going by the alphabetical order of the language — at the beginning of the list.

When asked to comment, producer of Dictionary, Firdausul Hasan, who also happens to be the vice-president of the Film Federation of India, said he would revert. Filmmaker Jayashree Bhattacharya, a member of the feature-film jury for the Indian panorama, said she would revert once she found out what exactly was the matter. Officials of the Directorate of Film Festivals could not be reached for comment.

The Bengali feature films that now figure in the list for the Indian panorama include Kalkokkho, Nitantoi Sahaj Saral, Abhijaan and Manikbabur Megh.

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