Cannes red carpet gets all the spotlight: It is a film festival anymore? - Hindustan Times
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Cannes red carpet gets all the spotlight: It is a film festival anymore?

May 24, 2024 01:38 PM IST

Is the buzz around non-industry red-carpet walks taking away from Cannes’ essence, especially in a year an Indian film is in the running for the biggest award?

It's raining influencers on the Cannes red carpet, and social media is inundated with visuals from VIP gala dinners and after-parties. All while everyone back home wonders why! As social media users debate the prestigious film festival transmogrifying into another Met Gala — it’s worth reiterating that after 30 years, a film (All We Imagine As Light by Payal Kapadia) is competing for the Palme d’Or – Golden Palm (Main Competition) category. Or, that six other Indian films, including Sandhya Suri’s Santosh starring Shahana Goswami and Chidananda S Naik’s Sunflowers Were The First Ones To Know, are being screened and competing across categories. With too much of other things, especially the red carpet looks of actors and influencers, getting all the spotlight, is Cannes’ sanctity and novelty as a film festival getting diluted?

Cannes Film Festival Red carpet
Cannes Film Festival Red carpet

‘Red carpet not the main realm of Cannes’

Actor-producer Vani Tripathi Tikoo laments that the festival’s purpose is falling by the wayside. “We’re paying attention to nonsensical things and that’s unforgivable. Cannes is not about who is walking the red carpet. Just like the ads we see online, the red carpet is also a sponsored activity and not the main realm of the festival,” she says, urging people to “focus on the gorgeous cinema and great films which come and compete with the best of the best in different categories.”

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Actor Richa Chadha, who first visited Cannes in 2015 for the screening of Neeraj Ghaywan's Masaan, again attended the festival last year as a producer of Girls Will Be Girls, which is being screened at the French Riviera this year.

Reacting to the whole red carpet vs films debate, Chadha referring to the Indian films in contention at Cannes, and says, “It’s historic that two Indian films are in the festival this year and one of them in the main Palme D'OR competition after 30 years! And yet there is so much more scrutiny and focus on the red carpet, some very replacable brand ambassadors who actually have no clout, or newbie actors hanging around carpets hoping to get one legitimate invite or even to be photographed."

Referring to actors Aishwarya Rai Bachchan, Deepika Padukone and Vidya Balan, who have been on Cannes juries in the past years, Tikoo adds: “They are not just hot bodies with great faces who walk the red carpet. They have been a part of amazing cinema, so people need to differentiate between the fluff and the essence of festivals.”

‘We need to take a step back from glamour and talk films’

Many social media users have also discussed how Cannes is becoming a fashion spectacle and a MET gala more than a film festival. Also, with the entire focus of the international and Indian media on the red carpet, people are forgetting the fact that it’s actually a celebration of films.

In fact, something that has been happening for decades, came out as a big revelation to many — that celebrities have paid as much as 30 lakh to walk the red carpet, or pay hefty sums varying from 10 lakh to 25 lakh to attend glamorous parties. So basically, there’s a price tag on everything at Cannes except for the movies being screened, which is the actual focus of the festival.

Tikoo states that invitees being required to pay to attend different events at Cannes is nothing new: “There’s a price tag on everything these days. We have to sift out the truth, which is that Cannes is one of the most important and well-meaning festivals. That should not be negotiated. We need to take a step back from glamour and talk about films.”

Filmmaker Shekhar Kapoor says, “I’ve walked the red carpet a number of times, including as a jury member. But I’ve never heard about people paying for it. For me, Cannes is the premier film festival in the world and will always hold a special place in every filmmaker’s dreams. Their selection of films are impeccable and I’ve never been disappointed."

Chadha concurs, “The focus must always be cinema and who is in those films — like (actors) Kani Kusruti, Tanmay Dhanania and Shahana Goswami (at the festival for AWIAL, The Shameless and Santosh, respectively). Shouldn’t we know what these Indian films are about? Payal’s debut feature is in competition with (Francis Ford) Coppola and (David) Cronenberg!”

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