Amit Kumar’s terrific film Monsoon Shootout must have the blessings of what juror Ang Lee calls, the Film God. Because on the day of the midnight screening of the film, there was torrential rainfall, setting the perfect mood for the noir thriller starring Vijay Varma, Nawazuddin Siddiqui and Tanishtha Chatterjee.
Monsoon Shootout is about a rookie cop who has to make a quick decision about whether or not to kill a suspect who is running away. The film is taut, dense and layered. It’s taken ten years for Amit to see the script through various financing upheavals but this story ended well with a midnight screening at Cannes.
The Grand Lumiere theatre was full and the audience responded to the film with strong applause. I think the most inspiring India narrative at Cannes is Nawazuddin Siddiqui.
Nawazuddin has three films at the festival — Monsoon Shootout, Ritesh Batra’s poignant The Lunchbox, and Bombay Talkies, in which he plays the lead in Dibakar Banjerjee’s short film. It’s almost as if he has become the lucky mascot for filmmakers — if you want to go to Cannes, cast Nawazuddin. This success was receded by years of struggle when the NSD-trained actor couldn’t find roles in Bollywood.
When I interviewed him, he spoke about the struggle to land even one scene in a film. But he says he carries no rancor or bitterness in his heart. His only request is: don’t call him the next Irrfan Khan because that is limiting for both actors!
Nawazuddin also laughed when I asked him about his red carpet clothes. He said he is wearing the suit he wore last year — kaala hai, chal jayega. Meanwhile it was announced that Anurag Kashyap, a key player in Nawazuddin’s career, will receive the Knight of the Order of Arts and Letters from the French government.
Anurag’s new film Ugly premiered in the Director’s Fortnight sidebar to polarised reviews — some critics raved, others said it was hastily put together and indulgent. But there is no denying that the filmmaker has single-handedly changed the game for Hindi independent cinema and created a school of filmmakers who are carrying forward the baton for non-mainstream. This is a well-deserved award.