Like Virar fast or Dadar station: The rush on the red carpet at Cannes

ByEkta Mohta
May 25, 2023 02:09 PM IST

At Cannes, Kusha Kapila, Dolly Singh, and Shivani Bafna, jostled for space with A-listers such as Aishwarya Rai Bachchan and Anushka Sharma.

MUMBAI “Yesterday’s carpet, in all honesty guys, was like Dadar station. Everybody and their mothers were on it. Because I was wearing red, people were stepping on me. Unless it’s your premiere, every celebrity is fighting for the photographers’ attention,” said content creator Niharika NM to Film Companion, a few days ago.

Urvashi Rautela, Ramesh & Nidarshana Gowani and Niharika NM. (Agencies/Instagram) PREMIUM
Urvashi Rautela, Ramesh & Nidarshana Gowani and Niharika NM. (Agencies/Instagram)

Niharika’s unguarded response to the film journal points to the jamboree at this year’s Cannes Film Festival, created by the rush of influencers who showed up representing various fashion, beauty and alcohol brands. Kusha Kapila, Dolly Singh, Shivani Bafna, Masoom Minawala Mehta and Diipa Büller-Khosla jostled for space with A-listers such as Aishwarya Rai Bachchan and Anushka Sharma.

More than the three Indian films -- Kanu Behl’s ‘Agra’, Anurag Kashyap’s ‘Kennedy’ and a restored version of Manipuri film ‘Ishanou’ -- being screened at the festival, designer labels such as Abu Jani Sandeep Khosla, Amit Aggarwal and Gaurav Gupta are being discussed. Significant social media space has been absorbed by actress Urvashi Rautela, who although has yet to prove her acting chops, did not shy away from wearing blue lip colour (as Aishwarya did a few seasons ago) and welcoming people into her dressing room (as Deepika Padukone and Priyanka Chopra in the past) to witness what it takes to construct the Cannes look.

As Niharika NM said, “The red carpet is very crowded – it’s an extremely packed affair, so you have to fend for yourself to get your pictures clicked.” She was at the festival as a guest for Brut India, since influencers and digital content creators have become more visible at the coveted film festival. Even as international media follows red carpet regulars, it is the new kids on the block who are leading the attention economy. With vastly different experiences, of course.

Content creator Ruhee Dosani, who also represented the brand, said, “The red carpet was very different from my expectation. There were easily 20-30 people (getting clicked) at the same time. So, it was very messy and quick. I didn’t even know when it started and when it finished. They tell you, ‘Take your time’ and all that. But, it’s so nerve-wracking.” She added that since they walked right before the movie actors, “they were like, ‘go, go, go’ like people exiting a crowded Virar local”.

The way to have fun, said Niharika NM, is to wear “whatever makes you feel lovely, beautiful and comfortable in your skin”.

“We are here for the magic of cinema. I understand that this is a part of it, but not all of it. I have a newfound appreciation for women who walk up those stairs in their heels and elaborate gowns,” she said.

Rautela, who is at Cannes for the photo-call launch of her film, a biopic on Parveen Babi, and has been wearing these elaborate gowns, said, “You must have seen my red carpet appearances at the premieres. It’s the world’s No. 1 film festival, so there’s a hustle and bustle in the city. Everything is really hectic. There are too many people and back-to-back events. Even as I’m talking to you, there are 10 other things to do. So, it’s quite crazy because there’s a lot of thought behind each and every look. People need to have a basic understanding of fashion at Cannes to know that there’s a lot of depth and meaning behind it. It isn’t just done for the heck of it,” she said projecting her A-game. Rautela created a buzz a few days ago, when she wore a crocodile neckpiece, which she claimed was valued at 270 crore.

Despite the planning, the trials, the crowds, the queues, and the traffic, it’s an experience no one would want to trade. As Niharika NM said, “Growing up, I would see images of actors and never think I’d be able to do something like this. I wouldn’t even dream of it, because it’s so impractical. So, to be able to have a moment like this — I don’t want to use the word ‘incredible’ all the time — but I’m so floored and elated that this is my life.”

The clamour to be on the red carpet has touched even those not associated with showbiz. Nidarshana and Ramesh Gowani, owners of Kamala Mills, ‘debuted’ at Cannes this year. They took a picture on the red carpet and paid showbiz photographer Viral Bhayani to post it on his Instagram page. “Everyone is using Cannes Film Festival as a marketing tool. It was supposed to be for films and fashion. But now it is seen as a business opportunity,” said Bhayani.

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