India is all set to rock the show at the 63rd Cannes Film Festival to be held from May 12 -23. Cannes Film Festival has since long been a revered soiree for global filmmakers, with an elite bench of jurors giving their verdict on the films selected from different nations, thereby providing just the right platform for world cinema to prosper.
In the past, Indian films as well as personalities have made their presence felt at the Cannes in a big way. The following list bears testimony:
1946 ‘Neecha Nagar’ by Chetan Anand
1951 ‘Festival Time’, ‘Private Life of a Silk worm’ and ‘Rajasthan N degree 1’ by Mohan Dayaram Bhavnani.
1952 Amar Bhoopali’ by V. Shantaram in Feature film category and ‘Green Glory’ by M. Ahmed and ‘Rustic Delights’ by V. R. Sarma.
1953 Raj Kapoor’s ‘Awara’, then ‘Kumaon Hills’ by Bhavnani, ‘New Lands for Old People’ by Krishna Gopal and ‘The Great experiment’ by V.R Sarma.
1954 ‘Do Beegha Zameen’ by Bimal Roy, ‘Mayurpankh’ by Kishore Sahu, ‘Feminine fashions’ by Mohan Dayaram Bhavnani, ‘Folk Dances of India’ by Mohan Dayaram Bhavnai
1955 ‘Biraj Bahu’ by Bimal Roy, ‘Boot Polish’ by Prakash Arora, ‘Symphony of Life’ by T.A. Abraham, ‘The Golden River’ by Pittamandalam V. Pathy
1956 ‘Pather Panchali’ by Satyajit Ray, ‘Shevgyachya Shenga’ by Shantaram Athavale
1957 ‘Gotoma The Buddha’ by Rajbans Khanna , ‘Magic of the mountains’ by Mohan Dayaram Bhavnani
1958 ‘Parash Pathor’ by Satyajit Ray, ‘Mandu’ by Neil Gokhale
1959 ‘Lajwanti’ by Narendra Suri, ‘Taj Mahal’ by Mushir Ahmed
1960 ‘Sujata’ by Bimal Roy, ‘Shringar’ by Ravi Prakash
1961 ‘Kangra ET Kulu’ by N.S Thapa
1962 ‘Devi’ by Satyajit Ray
1964 Moni Battacherjee’s Mujhe Jeene Do in the feature film competition and Dr. Gopal Dutt’s Himalayan Lakes in Short film competition.
1968 Santi S. Varma’s short film ‘Akbar’
1971 ‘The Epitaph’ by Gurucharan Singh.
1974 M.S Sathyu’s ‘Garam Hawa’
1976 Shyam Benegal’s ‘Nishant’
1980 Mrinal Sen’s ‘Ekdin Pratidin’
1981 Mani Kaul’s ‘Satah Se Uthata Aadmi’
1982 Adoor Gopalakrishnan’s ‘Elippathayam’
1984 Mrinal Sen’s ‘Khandhar’
1988 ‘Antarjali Yatra’ by Goutam Ghose
1989 Ray’s ‘Ganashatru’
1991 Aribam Syam Sharma’s ‘Ishanou’
1994 Shaji Karun’s ‘Swaham’ and Sandip Ray’s ‘Uttoran’
1995, Susant Misra`s ‘Indradhanura Chhai’
1996 Srinivas Krishna’s ‘Lulu’
1997 Goutam Ghose’s ‘Gudia’
1999 Shaji N Karun’s ‘Vanaprastham’ and Murali Nair’s ‘Marana Simhasanam’
2002 Sanjay Leela Bhansali’s ‘Devdas and Manish Jha’s short film A Very very Silent Film
2003 Murali Nair’s Arimpara was the last film to have made it to the Cannes
This has been the story so far. You must now be wondering, this time round, how much of India will be seen at the Cannes? Well, let’s just take a look:
The first thing that strikes is the growing acceptability of Indian filmmakers as the members of the jury. Last year it was veteran actress Sharmila Tagore sharing dais with other internationally acclaimed film veterans and in 2003, former Miss World and Bollywood’s most sought after actress Aishwarya Rai Bachchan graced the panel.
This time round, the organizers of Cannes have included the Oscar nominated Indian filmmaker Shekhar Kapur on the board. Kapur, known for his movies ‘Masoom’, ‘Mr.India’ ‘Bandit Queen’ and international projects like ‘Elizabeth’ and ‘Elizabeth - The Golden Age’, will be on the feature film jury panel along with director Tim Burton, British actress Kate Beckinsale and others.
The second outstanding feature that sets the ball rolling for India at the international festival is young Indian debutant director Vikramaditya Motwane’s film ‘Udaan’ taking part in the Festival’s prestigious `Un Certain Regard` section. Interestingly, Motwane was a long-time assistant of Sanjay Leela Bhansali, who’s ‘Devdas’ was part of the Festival’s Special Screenings in 2002.
Motwane had also collaborated with Bhansali on ‘Hum Dil De Chuke Sanam’, and had choreographed Deepa Mehta’s Academy Award-nominated ‘Water’. ‘Udaan’ has been produced by Anurag Kashyap’s recently established house.
Next in line is the Octogenarian Mrinal Sen’s Bengali film ‘Khandhar’ (1984) that is to be screened at the Cannes this year. It was screened in the ‘Un Certain Regard’ section at the 1984 Cannes Film Festival at the same festival in the year following its release. The effort is being taken on behalf of Cannes Classics, created in 2004, which accompanies contemporary films from the Official Selection with a programme of restored films and lost films that have been found again, as part of their re-release in cinemas or on DVD.
Then there is a film called ‘I Am Kalam’, about trials and tribulations of a small boy yearning to attend school. An official from an NGO who produced the film, Anurag Bhatnagar, sharing his views with a news daily said, “The main objective of producing ‘I Am Kalam’ is to highlight how a child aspires to dream in spite of all the hardships of the life. The Indian government has recently passed the bill on right to education. But the act will remain a mere legislation until and unless the privileged come forward proactively for the cause.” The movie has found an apt stage to be screened. This will not only give it a much needed attention but the right mix of promotion and marketing at the world level.
‘Last of the Tattooed Head Hunters’, a short English film about the Konyak Naga tribe, will become the first movie from Northeast India to be screened at the 63rd Cannes International Film Festival. The 15-minute film has been selected in the ‘Short Film Corner’ category of the festival. The makers said in a statement that the entry into the Cannes has created a landmark for the people of Northeast India and Nagaland in particular. Director Vikeyeno Zao also pointed out that the film was made to present to the world the tattooed head hunting Konyak tribes before they are gone forever.
Another India entry at Cannes this year is the Oscar nominated `Kavi` - the story of an Indian slave boy. The 19-minute-long film by American director Gregg Helvey will be screened in the Short Film Corner at the 63rd edition of the festival.
Then of course, there is Bollywood bombshell Mallika Sherawat, who is going places including Cannes. This year, not one but two of her films will be unveiled at the festival. The alluring actress is playing central roles in ‘Hisss’ and ‘Love Barack’ (both international projects). Mallika would sure add to the `desi` presence at the French Riviera. This is her second time at the festival – she was there with Jackie Chan in 2005 to promote their film ‘The Myth’.
But the biggest surprise is a Bhojpuri film ‘Jala Debh Duniya Tohra Pyar Mein’ trying to make its presence felt at the India Pavilion. The film is being pushed by Ravi Kishen, the doyen of Bhojpuri cinema. This really shows that not only Hindi, but other regional languages of India are trying to gain foothold in the world market with innovative marketing techniques.
With only one American movie and no Chinese films selected to compete for the Golden Palm, organizers of the 2010 Cannes Film Festival have opted to highlight cinema`s global reach and considering the line-up, India is sure to shine bright at Cannes!