Legendary Bengali actor Soumitra Chatterjee would be handed over France’s highest civilian award Legion of Honour during the 42nd edition of the International Kolkata Book Fair in January next year.

France, which would also be the focal theme of this edition of the world’s most attended book fair, is planning to present the award to the octogenarian actor on the inaugural day of the event in the presence of its Minister of Culture Francoise Nyssen, a senior French official said on Tuesday (November 28).

“Soumitra Chatterjee is not just an actor, he is a legend. The award was announced in June. But we waited for the perfect occasion to hand him the award. The book fair seems to be a perfect backdrop as our Minister of Culture would also be present in the city at that time,” Damien Syed, Consul General of France in Kolkata, said during the announcement and logo unveiling event of the book fair here.

“It is a befitting occasion to hand him the award as a French minister would be visiting the city after seven years. We felt it would be more prestigious and impactful if he is handed over the award by the minister, who herself is a writer and a noted publisher in France,” he pointed out.

The upcoming edition of the book fair would be inaugurated by West Bengal Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee at a new venue in Central Park Mela Grounds in Salt Lake and would be held from January 31 to February 11.

Talking about the French connection to the Kolkata book fair, Syed said the French pavilion in this edition, entitled ‘Experience: The Digital Journey of France’, would focus on highlighting various aspects of Indo-French relations.

“It is wonderful to see France as the main focus country in the Kolkata book fair. The French pavilion in the fair would be uniquely designed to portray different aspects of Indo-French relationships in the past, present and future,” the consul general said.

The ongoing ‘Bonjour India Festival’, organised by the cultural wing of the French Embassy in different Indian cities on the occasion of the 70th year of Indo-France diplomatic relationship, would observe its closing ceremony at the Kolkata book fair.