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French honour for SRK

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January 24, 2008 14:48 IST

The French government will confer 'Officer of the Order of Arts and Letters' title on Bollywood star Shah Rukh Khan [Images] for his contribution to Indian film industry, a senior French government official said on Thursday.


"The title is being conferred to recognise the successful work done by Khan in 15-year career span and his contribution to Indian cinema -- as an artiste and entrepreneur," Audiovisual Attache -- Head of the French Film and TV office, French Embassy in India, Mohamed Bendjebbour told PTI.


The distinction is given to persons who have established themselves by their creativity in the field of art, culture and literature or for their contribution to the influence of the arts in France [Images] and throughout the world, Bendjebbour said.


French Ambassador in India Jerome Bonnafont will confer the title on Khan at the inaugural ceremony of four-day French film festival -- First rendezvous with French cinema here in Mumbai on January 27.


This is not the first time an Indian film personality is being honoured by the French government. In 2005, renowned director Adoor Gopalakrishnan was bestowed with a similar title as Khan, while last year Amitabh Bachchan [Images] was conferred with 'The Legion d'Honneur', France's highest civilian honour.


"We have the tradition of honouring great film personalities in India. Our government believes that Indian film industry is today among the best in the world in terms of quality," the official said.


The three-day festival will showcase seven commercial French titles, in an attempt to initiate and popularise French cinema in Mumbai, before travelling to other cities.


The Cultural Service of the French Embassy in India is organising the festival, in association with UniFrance, an organisation committed to promoting French cinema across the world.


"Indian cinema and the audience both have matured a lot in last couple of years. This change has coincided with the multiplex boom in India. We thought the time is ripe to tap its potential," said Philippe Martinet, Cultural Counsellor to the French Embassy in India, adding "we also want filmmakers to use France as the backdrop for their movies."


Among the seven films to be screened, would be Roman de Gare (Crossed Tracks), directed by the Academy and Palm d'or awardee, Claude Lelouch.


Other films are La Science Des Reves (The Science of Sleep), and the world premiere of Asterix at the Olympics [Images] amongst others. All these films to be showed in the festival would be released in India. Major companies like Polydor and Shemaroo have bagged the title rights for India release.


"We've spent some time conducting non-commercial screenings of French movies in multiplexes across the country and have received a good response," said Martinet.


Photograph: Getty Images

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