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Naseer?s debut film for Cannes?

Bollywood media kite flyers have begun to spread unsubstantiated stories about the Indian films at the Cannes, writes Saibal Chatterjee.

india Updated: May 17, 2006 10:42 IST

It’s that time of the year again. Bollywood media kite flyers have begun to spread unsubstantiated stories about the Indian films that are purported to be in with chance to make the Cannes cut. Most of these claims, as always, are based more on hope than on conviction. In recent years, Indian cinema has invariably drawn a blank in Cannes and the world’s biggest film industry has had to make do with stray jury positions. 

Naseeruddin Shah’s maiden directorial venture, Yun Hota to Kya Hota, is among the Indian films that are being tipped to make it to the 59th Cannes Film Festival’s official selection of 50-odd entries.

Of course, no word of confirmation is available yet from the organisers because it is too early in the day for them to make any formal announcements about the final line-up of films that will be premiered at the event. The Cannes Film Festival is scheduled to run from May 17 to 28 this year.

But, according to those in the official selection loop, Yun Hota to Kya Hota is indeed in the Cannes Film Festival frame as of now. Principal shooting for the film has been wrapped up and producer Shabbir Boxwalla, on a request from the festival organisers, is reportedly expediting the post-production process to meet the Cannes deadline.

Naseeruddin Shah’s maiden directorial venture, Yun Hota to Kya Hota, is among the Indian films that are being tipped to make it to the 59th Cannes Film Festival’s official selection of 50-odd entries.
 
Naseer’s first film as director isn’t expectedly a typical Bollywood film. It narrates four separate stories, including one about a Gujarati entrepreneur who in the guise of an organiser of Indian cultural shows in the US smuggles illegal migrants into the country. The script also includes a story set in the context of the events of and following 9/11. So, on the face of it, Yun Hota to Kya Hota has enough ‘political relevance’ to find favour with the Cannes Film Festival programmers.       
 
Two key elements of the upcoming Cannes Film Festival are already in place. One, Hong Kong’s Shanghai-born filmmaker Wong Kar Wai has been named the president of the jury. He is the first Chinese in the history of the world’s greatest showbiz event to head the Cannes jury.
And two, Da Vinci Code, adapted by director Ron Howard from Dan Brown’s bestseller, will be the opening film of the Cannes festival. Tom Hanks and Audrey ‘Amelie’ Tatou head the cast of the film.

Wong Kar Wai is one of the world’s most innovative filmmakers, with a visual style that is wonderfully tactile and an imagination that is completely matchless. His association with the Cannes Film Festival goes back a long way – he was discovered on the Croisette in 1989, when As Tears Go By was screened in the official selection.

His big Cannes breakthrough came in 1997 when the gay-themed Happy Together earned wide critical accolades. In 2000, the evocative In the Mood for Love, one of his finest films, was in competition in Cannes. He was back on the Croisette in 2004 with the magnificently crafted 2046.

Cannes’ choice of Wong Kar Wai, who is currently working on his first English-language film, The Lady from Shanghai, is clearly of a piece with the otherwise glitzy, glamour-laced Cannes Film Festival’s strategy to entrust the hot seat to a director who is known to follow his own rules and instincts. That ensures that the selection of the Palme d’Or winners remains well outside the influence of the hype and hoopla that the festival generates.

In the seven years since 2000, Cannes has named distinctive auteurs like Luc Besson (2000), David Lynch (2002), Patrice Chereau (2003), Quentin Tarantino (2004) and Emir Kusturica (2005) as jury chief. The only hint of an exception to that pattern came in the year 2001, when veteran Norwegian actress Liv Ullmann occupied the jury president’s chair. But then, Ullmann, besides featuring in as many as ten Ingmar Bergman masterworks, has several films to her credit as a director. In other words, she belonged.