Moushumi’s ‘no’ to award to protest Nandigram

By Sujoy Dhar

Kolkata, Nov 11 (IANS) Bollywood actor Moushumi Chatterjee Sunday joined other artistes in their protest against the violence in West Bengal’s Nandigram area by refusing an award from a publishing group and hit out at the state’s ruling Communist Party of India-Marxist (CPI-M).

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Chatterjee, who refused a Lifetime Award, told IANS in an interview from Mumbai: “This is not the time to accept Lifetime Awards from anybody. I think the CPI-M should instead start a ‘life taking’ award there.

“I was sent a ticket to come to Kolkata to accept the award but I refused,” said Chatterjee. She had fought the Lok Sabha elections from a Kolkata constituency in 2004 on a Congress ticket but lost.

“What is happening in Bengal? What do they (CPI-M) want? First, they sign an agreement to hand over land to industrialists without taking the consent of the people there because they are poor, and now they are killing them. We cannot tolerate this,” said Chatterjee.

Filmmakers Aparna Sen and Rituparno Ghosh are among many artistes who have hit the streets of Kolkata and boycotted the Kolkata Film Festival (KFF) to protest against the violence in Nandigram, allegedly unleashed by the CPI-M on the rival Trinamool Congress-backed Bhumi Uchhed Pratirodh Committee (BUPC).

“I am trying my best to make the people in Bollywood aware of what is happening in Bengal. I think they don’t know the truth about Nandigram. So they should be informed,” said Chatterjee, who made her entry in Bengali films in “Balika Badhu” (1967).

“It is sad that people in India are now so much concerned about themselves that they don’t generally care for the plight of others. But this should change and we must do something (about it).

“I have spoken with Rina-di (Aparna Sen) and she congratulated me for refusing the award,” said Chatterjee, who has acted in Aparna Sen’s upcoming “The Japanese Wife”.

Chatterjee said she was surprised to hear the statements of CPI-M leaders on the Nandigram issue.

The actress, who married the son of yesteryears’ singer Hemant Kumar, was a top star in the ’70s and early ’80s and has acted opposite then reigning actors Amitabh Bachchan, Jitendra and Dharmendra.

In Kolkata, the intelligentsia has rallied behind fasting activist Medha Patkar and others.

On Sunday, tensions simmered in Nandigram, a day after gun battles in the area claimed two lives.

Over the past week, the CPI-M has launched an offensive against the BUPC in Nandigram to regain its lost ‘bases’. Their cadres entered village after village and allegedly torched houses belonging to the rival groups.