Amit Kumar’s terrific film Monsoon Shootout must have the blessings of what juror Ang Lee calls the Film God. Because on the day of the midnight screening of the film, there was torrential rainfall, setting the perfect mood for the noir thriller starring Vijay Varma, Nawazuddin Siddiqui and Tannishtha Chatterjee.
Monsoon Shootout is about a rookie cop who has to make a quick decision about whether or not to kill a suspect who is running away. The film is taut, dense and layered.
It’s taken 10 years for Amit to see the script through various financing upheaveals, but this story ended well with a midnight screening at Cannes. The Grand Théâtre Lumière was full and the audience responded to the film with strong applause.
I think the most inspiring India narrative at Cannes is Nawazuddin Siddiqui. He has three films at the festival — Monsoon Shootout, Ritesh Batra’s poignant The Lunchbox, and Bombay Talkies, in which he plays the lead in Dibakar Banjerjee’s short film. It’s almost as if he has become the lucky mascot for filmmakers — if you want to go to Cannes, cast Nawazuddin.
This success was preceded by years of struggle, wherein the actor trained at the National School of Drama couldn’t find roles in Bollywood. When I interviewed him, he spoke about the struggle to land even one scene in a film. But he says he carries no rancour or bitterness in his heart. His only request is: don’t call him the next Irrfan, because that is limiting for both actors! Nawazuddin also laughed when I asked about his red carpet clothes. He said he is wearing the suit he wore last year — “
Kaala hai, chal jayega
” (it’s black, it’ll do).
Meanwhile, it was announced that Anurag Kashyap, a key player in Nawazuddin’s career, will receive the Knight of the Order of Arts and Letters from the French government. Anurag’s new film Ugly premiered in the Director’s Fortnight sidebar to polarised reviews — some critics raved, others said it was hastily put together and indulgent. But there is no denying that the filmmaker has single-handedly changed the game for Hindi independent cinema, creating a school of filmmakers who are carrying forward the baton for non-mainstream. This is a well-deserved award.