By Utpal Borpujari
In a first in its tourism history, India is seeking to attract global travellers in the name of one its best-known cinema icons, Satyajit Ray.
The “Satyajit Ray Trail”, as the initiative will get known once it becomes a reality, will cover shooting locales of the master’s immortal debut film Pather Panchali as well as other masterpieces near Shantiniketan.
While many countries in the world have developed highly-lucrative tourist packages revolving around shooting locales and film studios and characters, India, despite being the producer of the maximum number of movies every year, till now had not woken up to the potential in this segment.
The Centre has already accepted a proposal from the West Bengal government to develop the Trail at an estimated cost of Rs 50 crore, sources in the Union Tourism Ministry said here.
The importance given to the idea is reflected in the fact that the trail will be developed as a “mega project” of the Tourism Ministry.
“The Oscar-winning filmmaker is a pride of our country, and cinema-loving tourists from all over the world will surely be keen to visit the locations where he shot many of his masterpieces,” the sources told Deccan Herald.
The exact locations of shooting of Ray’s films are being identified with the help of one of his crew members, Ramesh Sen, and also in consultation with the late director’s filmmaker son Sandip Ray.
The locations are spread over a vast stretch of Birbhum district and partly in neighbouring Burdwan district. Apart from the filming locations, nearby Shantiniketan is already a major draw for both foreign and domestic tourists because of its association with Rabindranath Tagore.
The trail will be developed to include proto-types of scenes shot at different locations with brief description of the script and narration of some important events during film shooting.
There will also be illumination and landscaping of the shooting spots, and there will be Tourist Interpretation Centres.
Pather Panchali was partly shot at Boral, about five km from the southern limits of Kolkata, but while it has fallen prey to rapid urbanization, quite a few of other locations in Birbhum and around Shantiniketan at Bolpur retain some of their original flavour.
According to the proposal, the ‘Trail’ is likely to start from Bolpur in Shantiniketan, around 160 km from Kolkata. The town already has a state government tourist lodge apart from private hotels.