Kennedy actor Abhilash Thapaliyal on celebs walking Cannes red carpet: 'At least watch the film'
Back from Cannes, Kennedy actor Abhilash Thapaliyal reveals all that goes inside the film festival which he says is more than just a red carpet opportunity.
Abhilash Thapaliyal is back from his debut appearance at the Cannes Film Festival and brimming with excitement as he did not simply walk the red carpet but was part of the film, Kennedy, that received a 7-minute standing ovation in the midnight screening section. The actor accompanied director Anurag Kashyap and co-stars Sunny Leone and Rahul Bhat to Cannes and reveals he paid for his own expenses. He however, isn't too happy about fashion becoming a bigger talking point than films at the event and stresses on the need for stars to talk about what the festival is actually about. Also read: Anurag Kashyap fixes Sunny Leone's dress in sweet moment from Cannes premiere of their film Kennedy. Watch
In a tell-all interview with Hindustan Times, Abhilash answered to all queries about all that happens at the film festival. Excerpts:
So how was your first Cannes?
Now I know what actually happens inside, till now I had only seen celebs on the red carpet. Our film Kennedy was screened in the biggest theatre at Cannes. The most amazing thing that happened was the seven-minute standing ovation. No one had clapped for me in school for seven minutes.
You gave a Pahadi touch to your Cannes outfit. Why do some celebs go for the biggest designers and some wear clothes from their native place?
Primarily Hindustan, and then my state Uttarakhand. The bandhgala I wore was Indian, they are not worn in the hills. The stole was from Uttarakhand. There is no difference between the two - those who have easy access go to designers and those who want something from their place or think designers won't do justice to it and go on to do their own thing. My designer Sarab Khanijou is among the best in the country. I went to him because he is himself a Pahadi like me and knew what I expected from him. Amardeep Kaur was there, she had a certain understanding with Sarab.
It's a good thing that both types of people are making headlines. My objective was that people should talk about my state, our dress form. Because that is my identity. I come from Uttarakhand, I had to carry Hindustan there, my culture there. I was very clear that I will not wear any suit or tux because there, we are not talking about films but what you have worn on the red carpet. It is a great thing for a film festival but if that is being done, instead of bashing it, the opportunity can be utilised for a good cause.
Fashion is being highlighted more than films at Cannes.
Now we are talking about the film, Kennedy. It got a standing ovation and I see my pics on the big billboards. But yes, its not a MET gala, it's a film festival. The primary focus should be on films. I have read somewhere and don't know if its correct that celebs walk the red carpet at film screenings and then leave without watching the film. Its a disrespect to that film that you are simply taking its ticket to just walk the red carpet and you are not watching the film. There is no problem in walking the red carpet, atleast watch the film and share your response. It's a democratic setup, even you and I can go to Cannes if you can afford it.
Tell us all about how film screenings are held at Cannes.
You are not supposed to buy a ticket. They are available and you have to book them. If you book them and don't reach for the screening, you can be blacklisted. Its our responsibility to talk about the film festival more than the looks. We should talk about the looks but we should also talk about Martin Scorsese's film. If more than Martin Scorsese, social media influencers will trend - it looks sad for the festival. It is a festival of filmmakers, actors, directors. I would like to be known for my work rather than what I wear.
The entire film is screened at Cannes and not just portions. Usually the cast and crew of the film watches the film with you in the theatre. Usually no seats are vacant, Kennedy was screened in the biggest theatre - it was a 2000-seat theatre. There are certain rules - for the midnight screening, you cannot come in casuals or just shirt or trousers. You need to wear a tux, be properly dressed, but something in which you can sit comfortably.
Don't you think it's not possible to sit for 2 hours in those exquisite gowns with trains?
I sat very comfortably during the Kennedy screening. People should then wear something they can walk the red carpet in and also watch the movie. Eventually, it's a film festival and not a MET gala and should be treated like one.
You must have walked the red carpet before.
No. This was my first and that too at Cannes and was such an amazing experience. I have only walked the red carpet at HT Style Awards and HT OTT awards. I had to go because my film Kennedy was screening there, otherwise I may not have been able to afford it.
When so many celebs go to Cannes, who pays for their travel, food and stay?
I paid for my travel and stay. Our film is not from a big production house. All of us have made this film together. If my film wasn't selected, I may not have gone there and also, I may not have got the invite. Now if I get a chance next year, I will try to go again. The impact of the festival is such that on my flight back home, I was watching Triangle of Sadness, which won at Cannes last year.
Anurag wrote your character in Kennedy with you in mind. Tell us about the role.
It was the biggest compliment. My character makes a big impact on Kennedy's life after which his journey is like how it is.
Tell us about Anurag's working style.
He is full of honesty and love. When you get to work with a director like him, you tend to over prepare. I was overprepared. I was mugging up my lines and thinking about nuances which I can bring in my scenes. When you go there, his working style is very simple. He just briefs you and lets you be. He will be like, 'why are you doing this, take it easy'. He met me once in Pune and gave me this film. He didn't audition me. The character is very close to my own personality. For the first time, it is just an extension of my personality.