In India, the Cannes Film Festival has always been associated with glitz and glamour. But this year, it’s creating a buzz for a completely different reason. Ashim Ahluwalia’s Miss Lovely, a film on C-grade cinema of the ’80s, is the only Indian entry this year and will be screened in the festival’s ‘Un Certain Regard’ section.
“I have worked on the project for five years, so it feels good that things are ending on such a nice note,” says Ashim, who will head to Berlin to finish the film’s post-production before reaching Cannes around mid May. According to Ashim, his first feature film, John and Jane, which was screened at major film festivals like Toronto and Berlin, helped put Miss Lovely on the Cannes radar.
Interestingly, Ashim never wanted to make Miss Lovely into a film. “Initially, I wanted to make a documentary about how C-grade films are made in India. So I got in touch with a few people involved in it. A few of them even allowed me to visit their sets. But they refused to talk on camera because it’s illegal,” he says.
Instead of letting all his research go waste, however, Ashim modified the basic idea into a feature film. Set in the mid 80s, Miss Lovely is about two brothers who make C-grade films in Mumbai. The film stars Nawazuddin Siddiqui of Kahaani fame and former Miss India Niharika Singh.
“I met Niharika at a time when she was confused whether to join Bollywood or try other genres of cinema. I think that conflict came in handy during her screen test,” says the Ashim.
He is well aware that his film might run into trouble with the Censor Board. “I am ready to chop the ‘objectionable’ scenes from the film to ensure its release in India. I will be very disappointed if it doesn’t release in India. In fact for me, releasing Miss Lovely in India is more important than its Cannes entry,” he says.