The French run the Cannes Film Festival with military precision. Each contingency has been thought of and someone has been delegated to take care of it. Every celebrity walking the red carpet has a minder. So on day one, we were told that we could interview Saif Ali Khan (who walked the red carpet as brand ambassador for Chivas Regal) all the way from his hotel room to the car. One of us could sit in the car and drive with him to the Palais but we could not get out of the car and we couldn’t even film the red carpet from the car. When celebrities walk down the carpet, a smiling minder in a tuxedo stands behind and discreetly tells them which way they should look so that photographers on both side of the carpet get enough pictures.
In comparison, the red carpet at the International Film Festival of India in Goa is a joke. Last year, 3 Idiots played at the festival and my husband Vidhu Vinod Chopra and Raju Hirani were asked to walk the carpet (I hesitate to describe it as red, it was more like a dirty maroon). Some fifty odd people milled around, perhaps hoping for a big Bollywood star. When it was our turn, the presenter, with full force and volume announced the arrival of Vinod Chopra, Raju Hirani and Abhijat Joshi. Except that Abhijat wasn’t there — I was walking in with them. But the presenter didn’t pause to think that I certainly couldn’t be Abhijat Joshi. He just did his job and I walked down the carpet sheepishly avoiding the somewhat puzzled gaze of the audience.
In Cannes, there is little room for error. The festival is a tightrope act of balancing movies, egos, creative temperaments and over 4,000 journalists. The organisers do this by using both charm and bullying. The security men at the Palais, all dressed in identical beige suits, are so grim that they made people cry. In fact the entire town seems overrun by hulking men in suits whose job it is to protect the stars from the hundreds of fans milling around. At the bigger hotels, people park themselves at the gate for hours, hoping for a glimpse.
Stars spotted today: Gong Li, Aishwarya Rai Bachchan, Jane Fonda, Angelina Jolie, Gus Van Sant, Emir Kusturica, Martin Sheen, Adrien Brody and the gorgeous Mia Wasikowska.
Cannes Fact: At the opening night dinner, 650 guests consumed 700 bottles of red and white wine. The writer hosts Picture This on NDTV 24 X 7