For me, a trip to Cannes is incomplete without a conversation with Aishwarya Rai Bachchan. For years now, we have been keeping our annual date on the L'Oréal terrace at the Martinez Hotel. I have grown older. She however, looks exactly the same. This year, we spoke about her new film, Jazbaa, directed by Sanjay Gupta and co-starring stalwarts like Shabana Azmi and Irrfan. Jazbaa is the remake of a Korean film. Aishwarya plays a lawyer whose daughter is kidnapped.
We saw a few minutes of footage and a teaser. It looks like a physically and emotionally gruelling film. Aishwarya, who is pointedly choosing to not use the word 'comeback,' said that the film is only the latest in the line of unusual choices she has made through her career. She's choosing to ignore the noise around the so-called 'comeback,' and just 'enjoying the craft'.
I also chatted with Manish Mundra, who is one of the co-producers on Neeraj Ghaywan's Masaan. Mundra has fast become the godfather of Hindie films - he went to the Sundance Film Festival with Umrika. He followed that up with Dhanak at the Berlin Film Festival and now he's at Cannes with Masaan. What's the secret, I asked? "Good content. I've realised that if you have a good product and you give it a decent release, there is no way the film will fail," he said. Mundra is confident that Masaan will come home with some award. "God has been kind to me until now. I don't see why he won't be kind again," he said.
Meanwhile, the rest of the Masaan team - Neeraj, co-producer Vikramaditya Motwane and actors Richa Chadda and Vicky Kaushal - was flying high. In an incredible coincidence, Masaan premieres on May 19 - exactly five years ago, Vikram's film Udaan also premiered on May 19. Neeraj said that Cannes was so far beyond his imagination that he had never even dreamt about it.
The Cannes film festival is the stuff that dreams are made of. Careers are made and unmade here. It's addictive, exhilarating and utterly exhausting. I'm ready to leave. But I can't wait to come back in 2016.