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India’s shining at Cannes

india Updated: May 18, 2013 16:18 IST
cannes 2013

I’ve interviews followed by the red carpet screening of Francois Ozon’s Competition entry Jeune & Jolie, followed by a spectacular two-hour, four-course dinner hosted by Chivas Regal — that’s what day 2 in Cannes was for me. And that's probably relatively relaxed compared to what many of the 35,000-odd film professionals in this tourist town are going through at the moment. Cannes is a spectacularly frenzied festival — an actress described it as Hollywood on speed — and you are always aware that at every moment, you are missing out on something because there are simply too many choices. No one in this town can do it all!

So far the festival has been swept up by The Great Gatsby wave. The lukewarm critical response to the film also bolstered criticism that the festival has sold out to Hollywood. Cannes, as The Guardian’s Xan Brooks wrote, ‘is perched at the intersection of art and commerce.’ The fact is that a festival needs stars and nothing matched the super-nova charm of Leonardo Di Caprio on the red carpet. On day 2, the stars of The Great Gatsby did press interviews at the gorgeous Hotel du Cap, which is a half hour drive from the Palais du Festival. Cabanas on the beach were turned into interview rooms so that television reporters got a backdrop of the shimmering blue sea. I interviewed Mr. Amitabh Bachchan sitting on the beach. The superstar was elated by his Cannes experience — especially speaking in Hindi at the opening ceremony. When I asked him about his blingy black jacket, he shrugged it off. It was something I picked up in Italy, he said.

Watching Mr. Bachchan and juror Vidya Balan, I felt an immense pride. Over the years, I have observed India slowly move into the spotlight at Cannes. What’s really heartening is that we are finally moving beyond red carpet glamour to cinema. Indian films are generating buzz. The two entries that I've seen — Ritesh Batra’s The Lunchbox and Amit Kumar’s Monsoon Shoutout — are both terrific. Two years ago, in an interview in Cannes, Anurag Kashyap told me that on the global cinema stage, Bollywood is the comic relief. I believe that this is changing. After a rainy start, the sun is shining — literally too — on Indian cinema at Cannes.