A day that begins with Park Chan-wook and Aishwarya Rai Bachchan can only be described with one
word – terrific. The master from South Korea, who twisted our heads beyond imagination, with films like Oldboy and Lady Vengeance, is back with a deliciously dark and intriguing film – The Handmaiden.
Set in Korea in the1930s, The Handmaiden is the story of a pickpocket recruited by a swindler to pretend to be a maid to a sequestered heiress. Of course things don’t go according to the plan. The Handmaiden had a lyrical beauty and a keen, perverse brutality that is the signature of Chan-wook. It’s lush and sensual and just disturbing enough to be memorable. I didn’t love it but the images stayed with me.
As I was processing The Handmaiden, I made my way to the Martinez Hotel for an interview with Ashwariya Rai Bachchan. This is her 15th year in Cannes. Dressed in a gossamer Naeem Khan gown, she was the queen of the L’Oreal terrace.
It was difficult to imagine that this is the same woman from the Sarbjit trailers (which had its world premiere at the Cannes market). Aishwarya said she had no qualms about aging and in fact insisted on more lines and a weight gain. “That’s how I play a character,” she said. Like ever year, daughter Aradhya has accompanied her.
Cannes is shorthand for expensive. A hotel once charged me 15 euros to iron a shirt! Nothing is more precious here than accommodation. So I was amazed to hear that hideously expensive hotel rooms at A-list Croisette hotels are lying empty. Most rentals in Cannes insist that clients take a 10-day booking.
It doesn’t matter how long you stay – you pay for the entire festival. So while most of us are making do with cramped and over-priced accommodation, there are perfectly good hotel rooms that are paid for but empty because the clients have already left. One of the many ironies of Cannes!
Meanwhile the Indian action at Cannes has heated up with the arrival of Anurag Kashyap, Nawazuddin Siddqui and Vicky Kaushal for Raman Raghav 2.0, Shobhu Yarlagadda (the producer of Baahubali: The Beginning) and of course Sonam Kapoor.