Vidya merges right in with the red carpet. We didn't miss the grandma pearls though.
Vidya smiles for the camera
Smiling like a buddha. (Reuters Photo)
Ancient Indian dressing gone wrong? (Reuters Photo)
Vidya Balan's traditional Sabyasachi look might not be for everyone's palette. Check out the camera's angle on her. (Reuters Photo)
Vidya poses for the camera in her Sabyasachi lehenga. (Reuters Photo)
Colour: check, Smile: check, Watch: err. (AP Photo)
The Cannes International Film Festival is a masterclass in precision. Everything is micro-managed, right down to which direction the stars look in as they pose on the red carpet, and how long they pose in one place before moving a little ahead so that the next lot of photographers can capture the incredible fashions. But even the mighty French can’t control the weather. Which is why on opening night in Cannes, beautifully dressed women struggled to keep billowing gowns and wayward hair in place as gusts of wind and rain put a dampener on the famed red carpet at the Palais des Festivals.
Among them were our very own Sonam Kapoor, Vidya Balan and Mallika Sherawat, the latter in a sober mustard gown. Even her most acidic critics have to admire Mallika’s ability to unexpectedly show up where it counts! A little after her, Amitabh Bachchan walked the red carpet, along with his The Great Gatsby co-star, Leonardo DiCaprio. The Great Gatsby brought a torrent of star power to the Croisette, but many Western critics skewered the film for being gaudy and over-wrought — visually and dramatically. Earlier in the day at a press conference, director Baz Luhrmann defended his work by saying that even the author, F Scott Fitzgerald, was derided when the book was first published. But Luhrmann, who didn’t give his actors much of a chance to speak, asked critics not to hold back on the criticism. “I love it,” he said.
When asked why he chose Bachchan for the role of the shady businessman, Meyer Wolfsheim, Luhrmann replied that he wanted someone charming, beguiling and larger than life and that the first person he thought of was Bachchan. Despite the somewhat damp start — literally and filmwise — the 66th Cannes International Film Festival looks like a sure-shot winner. Coming up in the next few days are films by Asghar Farhadi, the Coen brothers, Sofia Coppola, James Gray and Jim Jarmusch.
It’s a mouth-watering slate — some say the best in years. The films make Cannes what it is. This is the world’s premiere film festival and each year it sets the global cinematic agenda — the red carpet, the fashions and the breathless media headlines about pretty frocks are just the icing on the cake. Each year, Cannes attracts more than 35,000 film professionals and over 4,500 journalists. It’s an unparalleled cinema carnival. So irrespective of weather conditions — more rain forecast for the next two days — Cannes will keep buzzing like a beehive on steroids! Day 2:
Five interviews followed by the red carpet screening of Francois Ozon’s Competition entry, Jeune & Jolie, followed by a spectacular two-hour, four-course dinner hosted by Chivas Regal — that’s what day 2 in Cannes was for me. And that’s probably relatively relaxed compared to what many of the 35,000-odd film professionals in this tourist town are going through at the moment.
Cannes is a spectacularly frenzied festival — an actress described it as Hollywood on speed — and you are always aware that at every moment, you are missing out on something because there are simply too many choices. No one in this town can do it all! So far the festival has been swept up by The Great Gatsby wave. The lukewarm critical response to the film also bolstered criticism that the festival has sold out to Hollywood. Cannes, as The Guardian’s Xan Brooks wrote, ‘is perched at the intersection of art and commerce.’
The fact is that a festival needs stars and nothing matched the supernova charm of Leonardo Di Caprio on the red carpet. On day 2, the stars of The Great Gatsby did press interviews at the gorgeous Hotel du Cap, which is a half hour drive from the Palais du Festival. Cabanas on the beach were turned into interview rooms so that television reporters got a backdrop of the shimmering blue sea. I interviewed Mr Amitabh Bachchan sitting on the beach.
The superstar was elated by his Cannes experience — especially speaking in Hindi at the opening ceremony. When I asked him about his blingy black jacket, he shrugged it off. It was something I picked up in Italy, he said. Watching Mr. Bachchan and juror Vidya Balan, I felt an immense pride. Over the years, I have observed India slowly move into the spotlight at Cannes. What’s really heartening is that we are finally moving beyond red carpet glamour to cinema. Indian films are generating buzz. The two entries that I’ve seen — Ritesh Batra’s The Lunchbox and Amit Kumar’s Monsoon Shoutout — are both terrific. Two years ago, in an interview in Cannes, Anurag Kashyap told me that on the global cinema stage, Bollywood is the comic relief. I believe that this is changing. After a rainy start, the sun is shining — literally too — on Indian cinema at Cannes.