Cannes and the Chronicles of India

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66th Cannes has concluded. The festival, where India was the Guest Country, could have been a great chance to feature a new genre of Indian movies globally and to promote India as a haven of good film-making with a massive audience. Sadly, Indian film fraternity did little justice to the aspirations of the billion people it represents and shrank to giving only a “guest appearance” at Cannes.  The most talked about titles didn’t even feature in the selection while others had market screenings. Media’s coverage of the festival was driven clearly by ignorance and publicists.

The hoopla over Indian celebrities’ appearance at the Red Carpet overshadowed the bitter reality that since the last 19 years not even a single film has made it to the  Palme d’Or or the Golden Palm Section of the prestigious film fest. Even on the Red Carpet India could not put up a show worth the plaudits. Moreover, the stars who walked down the Red Carpet had absolutely nothing to their credit except for the endorsements in their kitty. Sonam Kapoor and Aishwarya walked the Red Carpet on behalf of L’Oreal. Big B’s Small cameo in The Great Gatsby brought him to the Red Carpet but then he was too overwhelmed to hide his feelings with some degree of decency. He made a hero out of himself for that small cameo. Vidya Balan managed to bring home some pride as she was a member of the Jury. The dismal performance of India at the Cannes, according to eminent film-makers is an outcome of their misguided perspective. The race to amass box-office collections has overtaken the desire to exhibit aesthetic excellence.

The most prestigious section in the Cannes is the Official Selection section. 20 films compete for Palme d’Or or Golden Palm award in this category. The last film to compete for Golden Palm was Shaji N. Karun’s Swaham in 1994. The second competition is the Un Certain regard. While last year there was Ashim Ahluwalia’s Miss Lovely in this category, this year there was no Indian movie in the section. There were only two Indian movies in the official selection of Cannes this year. Bombay Talkies had a gala screening to mark 100 years of Indian Cinema and Monsoon Shootout by Amit Kumar had a midnight screening.

Cannes Critics week is a parallel section of the festival organized by the French Syndicate of Film Critics. Films in this category compete for the Grand Prix and Visionary Jury Award. Ritesh Batra’s Dabbawon the Grand Rail d’Or Award here. Director’s fortnight is another parallel section of Cannes organized by the French Director’s Guild but this is a non-competitive section under which Anurag Kashyap’s Gangs of Wasseypur was screened last year and Ugly, once again an Anurag Kashyap brainchild (although this was his really ‘Ugly’attempt!), has been screened this year.

Well if you are thinking about the movies like Kamasutra 3D or Shortcut Romeo that were making news sometime back in India’s coverage of the Cannes, then here’s something that will interest you. Cannes also hosts the biggest film market in the world known as the Le Marche Du Film. 1450 screenings of 903 feature films took place during the ten days of the market last year. This year a whopping 132 Indian film professionals attended the market. It might interest you to be at the place and feel your next door Sabzi Market in Pure French Style! There is a similar market that screens short films too. 41 Indian short films were registered at the Short Film Corner this year.

This was India at Cannes 2013 for you. Cola without fizz, snake without hiss and an absolute miss!

Disclaimer: The author of this article in no way intends to belittle the prolific Indian film fraternity. She just wants the film fraternity to know that she is a sane viewer of the contemporary India who is not blinded by the glitz of gaudy dresses sweeping the Red Carpets. Please don’t take her for a ride!

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