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KIFF inauguration: Shah Rukh Khan requests artistes to spread message of peace, happiness, harmony and love

Addressing the inaugural function virtually, the actor-producer-entrepreneur said 2020 had been the worst year in living memory but also taught us that nothing matters more than family, a term in which he included the entire country.

Roushni Sarkar

While Shah Rukh Khan has graced the inaugural ceremony of the Kolkata International Film Festival every year since 2011 as the brand ambassador of the state of West Bengal, the actor-producer-entrepreneur could not be present at the inauguration of the 26th edition of the annual festival on account of the COVID-19 situation.

Though the festival happens to be the first in India to be held physically ever since the COVID-19 outbreak last March, the inaugural ceremony was organized on a smaller scale, maintaining the necessary safety protocols, and Khan addressed the occasion virtually.

Shah Rukh Khan considers himself a member of the Bengal family rather than just the state's brand ambassador. “I told Didi [chief minister Mamata Banerjee] once that this time I cannot be present as I will have to travel and there will be too many people, which is not right in the pandemic. She agreed; otherwise, she hardly accedes to such requests,” the star said with a laugh.

Urging everyone present virtually on the occasion to stay healthy and happy, Khan said 2020 had been the worst year in living memory and had affected everyone in some way. “Some people have been in worse situations, but we are privileged to have worried less about our lives," he said. "But the pandemic taught me that nothing matters more than our family. Family doesn’t mean only our children, wife, parents or loved ones, but I have an extended concept of family and for me, Kolkata is my family as well. Bengal, and the entire nation are my family.”

He said the aim of artistes now should be to make their families happier than they have been in the past year. “I can only entertain people and I take the oath, and also request all of you to pledge, that whatever we do from this moment onwards has to be for the purpose of our family and our country.”

Khan said all artistes have the talent and opportunity to convey a lot of good ideas through the medium of entertainment, “Though tickets to theatres and subscribing to OTT platforms can be expensive, but by and large it doesn’t take much to access entertainment," he said. "Hence, we should dedicate ourselves to entertain our families throughout the world and work hard.

“We actors and actresses keep ensuring social messages through our films, but I think this time we should do some social work through entertainment or take it to the ground level like our great leader Didi and everyone else and put forward a message of peace, harmony, happiness and love.”

Khan said he is a capitalist kind of person and wished that people see their earnings multiplied this year and are able to pay their bills and be happy. He also promised that he would meet Banerjee soon to make up for the hugs he has missed this time.

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Kolkata International Film Festival Indian cinema