Guess which Indian actress occupies the most mindspace at the ongoing 62nd Cannes Film Festival? It's certainly not Aishwarya Rai Bachchan though, as always, she is visible everywhere on the Croisette both in person and on L'Oreal hoardings.
Nor is it Kareena Kapoor, whose latest film Kambakht Ishq co-starring Akshay Kumar and a clutch of Hollywood stars in walk-on parts, is being promoted here by Eros Entertainment from its stand in the Cannes Film Market. The expected screening of the film in the market was scrapped at the last minute.
The distinction of being Indian cinema's chief flag-bearer in Cannes this year belongs to low-key but talented Tannishtha Chatterjee, the National School of Drama-trained actress who currently is on a roll on the international circuit.
Tannishtha, who now divides her time between London, Mumbai and hometown Delhi, is recognised in markets across the globe for her outstanding performance in British director Sarah Gavron's adaptation of Monica Ali's novel Brick Lane.
She is here as the lead actress of Dev Benegal's Road, Movie, an India-US co-production that has been picked up by international sales agent Fortissimo Films, a company whose footprints are spread across the globe.
"We are all proud of the film that Dev has made - it has shaped up just the way the director had envisaged it well," she said.
Road, Movie also stars Abhay Deol and Satish Kaushik.
Tannishtha, who flew back to London Sunday after a three-day trip to Cannes, also stars in Joseph Matthew's Bombay Summer, a film that is being promoted in the Cannes Film Market by iDream Productions. The film has the actress opposite New York-based Indian origin actor Samrat Chakrabarti.
Tannishtha, who is currently rehearsing in London for Gavron's second feature film, tentatively titled Pole Dance, will soon be heading back to India to complete the shoot of "A Prayer for Rain", co-starring Kal Penn, Mischa Barton and Martin Sheen.
"I am in India for three weeks. After that I return to London for Sarah Gavron's film," the actress said.
"Pole Dance", a film about two pole dancers in London - one from Eastern Europe and the other from Mauritius - also features Romanian actress Annamaria Marinca, who played a stellar role in the 2007 Palme d'Or winner Cristian Mungiu's 4 Months, 3 Weeks, 2 Days.
Said Tannishtha: "In the wake of the global financial slowdown, London has seen an exponential growth in the number of pole and lap dancers. Sarah is reworking the screenplay in order to incorporate the new reality."