After the opening film Blindness, a somewhat dark and sombre choice for the premiere night, the mood has lifted dramatically to party time; quite a different kind of life throbs a block away at the youthful from the age-baguette and-wine streets of Cannes.
Cheese shops, ice cream parlours, Moroccan food stalls, self-service sushi bars, all reek of health, wealth and mirth.
Of music and food
There is improvised music on the street, every corner turns to its own entertainer—the guitarist, the violinist and the Gallic version of Bob Dylan on harmonica. As I sit with a wise friend in a café, fronting the Riviera beachside, the plan for the forthcoming busy week ahead, I see a little girl in purple, her eyes shining. With her father, she feels like an angel.
She smiles at us, explaining in her French-English that she “buys food.”
The woman from the counter looks over my computer to see what wonders I’m carrying from India. She insists on seeing my pre-film production promo and asks me when it will be released. I am confused, as I don’t understand her Japanese-French-English.
A girl from behind the counter joins her and asks me “Shah Rukh Khan in your film?” A smile washes over my face as I nod and say, “I don’t know yet..and why not? ..yes may be.”
Catch and release
My friend tells her that we will have the film in Cannes next year.We laugh a lot and I think, “Why not?” again. A bird flies in—it’s a pigeon, everyone in the café wants to rescue it. With tenderness and love, a young French woman picks it up and releases it back to the sky.
Already, I have met more Indian filmmakers and trade people than I do in an entire year in India. Aishwarya Rai and Bachchans are here. I’m asked about news of Tibet? I’m repeatedly told India is rocking. The Taj Mahal, elephants and snake charmers are no longer our visual identities.
There are as many 61 film-making countries at the International Village of the Cannes fest. With more than 30,000 delegates already registered, it’s bursting at the seams. Speed dating between producers is deciding the fate of several films and projects-to-be of a several films and film-makers. It’s business as usual.
A film titled Milarepa by Neten Chokling catches my eye. Leading theway to Buddhist-themed cinema, it depicts the humble beginnings of Milarepa, themanwhowas tobecome Tibet’s greatest saint. The film was photographed in north India.
The other films to watch out for in the market are Baby(ies), a documentary on the nature of human babies; Let it Rain about an immature attempt to shoot a politician; Me Two a comedy about being two people in one body; and hello,Vin Diesel’s Babylon AD. There’s a film around called Rivals, which is about two brothers – one cop and the other, a thief. O Salim-Javed, where art thou?