Cannes Do No Wrong—Why Do We take Our Films To Cannes?

There we go again. It is that time of the year when our films and filmmakers head to the scenic  French town for a  bit of a sun and a lot of hype, and nothing else.

There we go again. It is that time of the year when our films and filmmakers head to the scenic  French town for a  bit of a sun and a lot of hype, and nothing else.

How many of the films that we take to Cannes each year actually end up being recognized as a cinema of worth in the international arena?

If the truth be told, Indian cinema remains a  bit of a joke in the international arena. We have the regular festival desi junkies, and they know who they, visiting Cannes, Berlin, Toronto, etc year after year. And what happens after these films are shown and apparently applauded at these global film festivals(every Indian entry claims to get a standing ovation)?Nothing! My dear friend Hansal Mehta’s Omerta which was screened at the Toronto Film Festival last year, released in India last month to near-empty theatres and abysmal collections.

Anurag Kashyap’s Mukkabaaz which opened to tremendous expectations sank without a trace, and with it sank the talented actor Vineet Singh’s hope of becoming a star. Not only do films get labelled ‘festival types’ actors too get branded as festival regulars. Nawazuddin Siddiqui has rapidly become the festival actor. He was seen in Cannes again this year representing Nandita Das’s Manto. A film that will win wah-wahs from the critics but would be largely ignored by the masses who would rather see a biopic on Sanjay Dutt than Sadat Hassan Manto.

 The sad fact of life about self-crowned cinematic masterpieces is that they amount to nothing more than self-pleasure. All those associated with a  ‘festival film’  thinks they have a great product on their hand while audiences prefer Judwa 8 to Omerta and Golmaal 19 to Titli. That’s the sobering truth all arthouse cinema must live with.

Coming back to Cannes, I’ve seen everyone from Manoj Bajpai to Mallika Sherawat at Cannes this year. What are they doing there? Manoj, it seems, is representing a film titled Bhosle. Like many of the films that choose to be premiered at international film festivals, this one too is likely to sink when it releases back home.

At least Manoj and Nawazuddin have a reputation for being festival-friendly actors. But what is Mallika Sherawat’s credentials for attending the Cannes Film festival year after year? Whom does she represent? Has she ever had a single film of hers shown at Cannes? Does she even qualify an actor any more?

We need to seriously answer questions about  Indian cinema’s presence in  the international arena. Besides Ritesh Batra’s The Lunchbox which Indian film in recent times has made a global impact?

(Subhash K Jha is a film critic and movie expert)

(Disclaimer: The opinions expressed above are the personal views of the author and do not reflect the views of ZMCL.)

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