L'Oreal Paris is all set to colour the Cannes red carpet fiery red with Bollywood divas. What do Bollywood queen Aishwarya Rai Bachchan, ‘world’s sexiest’ Freida Pinto and Kapoor family protégé Sonam Kapoor have in common? They share the brand and have all walked the famous carpet in the past at Cannes. Sounds perfectly legit in our increasingly commercial world, however, the bigger question is that does Bollywood cover up its lack of representation for cinema with brand endorsements?
Healthy competition does persist at the ceremony though. Not for films, but for the dressing disasters that can be anticipated from controversy queen Sherlyn Chopra who will be there for the trailer of her film Kamasutra 3D and the much ridiculed Ameesha Patel whose participation is limited to the screening of her film Shortcut Romeo with Neil Nitin Mukesh.
So as L’Oreal Paris celebrates its leading ladies in commemoration of the 16 years it has spent beautifying women at Cannes as the official make-up partner, Bollywood loses out on such pomp and show with the exception of two strong ladies on the judges’ panel – Vidya Balan (a juror in the Feature Films category) and Nandita Das (who returns to jury duty after her 2005 stint).
In fact, representation for Indian cinema at the Cannes seems to be stooping to the levels of mere uncompetitive screenings such as Bombay Talkies and a new concept of releasing trailers like that of Superstar Rajinikanth’s much awaited Kochadaiyaan. Bollywood’s Big B Amitabh Bachchan will make an appearance for doing a cameo in Hollywood film The Great Gatsby. Are we outsourcing our actors?
The embarrassingly few Indian films to compete this year are Ritesh Batra’s Dabba (The Lunchbox) in International Critics’ week and Amit Kumar’s Monsoon Shootout in Midnight Screenings. If media buzz is to be believed both films stand a fair chance at winning the prestigious Camera D’Or award.
However, no Indian film seems competitive enough to win the Palm D’Or or the Golden Palm which is the highest accolade at the Cannes. As irony may have it, the first and only Golden Palm an Indian film won was at the very first Cannes back in 1946. Chetan Anand’s Neecha Nagar may mark many firsts, but it failed to inspire Indian films to bag the title.
As Bollywood celebrates 100 years of cinema on all plausible platforms, including the much celebrated Bombay Talkies, the ironic absence of cinematic representation in an international film festival such as Cannes is nothing short of humiliating.