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India on the red carpet

Bollywood was in plenty on the Canees Red Carpet. Mallika Sherawat, Aishwarya Rai Bachchan, Deepika Padukone, Vikramaditya Motwane et al... made their presence felt.

india Updated: May 14, 2010 13:37 IST
Anupama Chopra

Mallika SherawatDay2

The Icelandic volcano disrupted Trans-Atlantic flights. Critics cribbed that this year’s ‘Competition’ was lightweight as compared to last year’s selection that was dubbed the ‘Auteur-Smackdown.’ And last week, unseasonal 10-foot-high waves smashed into the Croisette, casting a pall of gloom over the 63rd Cannes Film Festival.

But by the evening of May 12, all misgivings were gone. Crowds thronged the Palais and cameramen in tuxedos tripped over each other trying to get shots of Hollywood stars Russell Crowe and Cate Blanchett.

The festival head, Thierry Fremaux, stood at the top of the Palais steps, greeting the brightest and best in showbiz. Above Fremaux was a massive hoarding with the names of the directors whose films have made the official selection. Between Sir Ridley Scott, Jean-Luc Godard, Alejandro Innaritu and Manoel de Oliveira, was our own Vikramaditya Motwane.

Vikram’s Udaan is the first Indian film to be selected to a major category at Cannes in seven years. It took him the same time to find a producer for the film that he describes as a “simple, emotional, coming-of-age story”.

When Vikram narrated the film to Anurag Kashyap, he was told by the Dev D filmmaker, “Only I will produce this film.” But at the time, Anurag didn’t have the resources. So Vikram continued to refine his script about an 18-year-old boy who returns home after eight years in a boarding school to build a relationship with his authoritarian father and half-brother.

Eventually, Anurag produced Udaan and on May 19, he will be walking the red carpet with Vikram and the rest of the film’s cast and crew. When asked what he would be wearing, Vikram retorted, “Let’s get the film’s print out first, then I’ll figure out the clothes.”

There’s a lot of Indian action beyond the official selection. Aishwarya Rai Bachchan who is the L’Oreal ambassador, will also be walking the red carpet. On May 17, she will be promoting her forthcoming film Raavan, along with husband and co-star Abhishek Bachchan, director Mani Ratnam and music director AR Rahman.

Before that, Mallika Sherawat and director Jennifer Lynch will do a photo-call for Hisss. The film’s publicist was overheard telling a reporter, “She’s going to be guarded by a live snake.” Who would have imagined that Bollywood’s icchadhari nagin would one day make it to Cannes!

Deepika Padukone is also going to be on the red carpet, courtesy Chivas. As also filmmaker Shekhar Kapur, who is on the feature film jury. He will be officially announcing his much-talked next venture, Paani.

In the Palais basement, Indian companies are attempting to sell Indian cinema in the Cannes Film Market. It is an astonishingly busy space with frantic networking, over 1000 screenings and brisk sales. Among the films being marketed is Sajid Nadiadwala’s just-released Housefull.

French actor Mathieu Amalric, known for films like the last Bond movie, Quantum Of Solace, as also The Diving Bell and The Butterfly, is in Cannes for the 10th time. This time though, he’s there as a director. His fourth film, On Tour, has been selected for ‘Competition’.

In an interview to The Hollywood Reporter, Amalric spoke about the ‘Cinderella effect’ of Cannes: “The girls all wear expensive dresses, the men are like princes. And then, at the end of the night, we all have to bunk together because there is no budget. It’s just like Cinderella.” Right!

The writer hosts Picture This on NDTV 24X7