Since independence, mainstream Bollywood has won just 2 awards at Cannes Film Festival. The first was by V Shantaram in 1952 and the second was by Raj Kapoor in 1953.
Yet, every year Bollywood actresses and random directors walk the red carpet on one pretext or another. None of them are even nominated for their films, but they make sure that they bask in the glory of a Cannes Red Carpet. What is worse is that the Indians whose films are nominated and win at Cannes are sidelined to anonymity.
Here are the real heroes of Cannes 2023 -
1. Celebrated Manipuri filmmaker Aribam Syam Sharma’s 1990 film Ishanou has been restored by Film Heritage Foundation, and is being showcased in the Cannes Classics section. It’s a big, big achievement. Sharma is 88, he is at Cannes, but he can’t attend the screening of his own film as he is unwell.
2. A film called Nehemich, by FTII student Yudhajit Basu, has been selected in the Cinefoundation section of Cannes out of 2000 entries. That’s a case for a celebration. But have you seen the young film maker on the Red Carpet?
3. The third Indian this year at Cannes is Kanu Behl, whose film Agra has been chosen in the prestigious Directors Fortnight section. Have you heard of it? Do you know how Kanu looks like?
What we are shown as Cannes are the outrageous outfits worn by Aishwarya, Deepika, Sonam Kapoor and even Diana Penty! These women have gone to Cannes as celebrities, not as actors or directors of merit. They don’t represent Indian cinema. Yet, they are in limelight, not the nominees.
I feel disappointed to see so-called poster boys of indie-cinema - Anurag Kashyap and Vikramaditya Motwane - posing in their tuxedoes on the Cannes Red Carpet. Their film Kennedy has been selected for a Midnight Screening section at Cannes. It means nothing really.
This is the real Bollywood for you. It is a cabal of competent businessmen masquerading as the top creative talent of India. They are not. They are merely filmy celebrities.
The Bollywood hypocrites don’t even feel the obligation to celebrate the real talent of Indian cinema at Cannes on their social media handles. They are busy garnering all attention and hype for themselves. It is sad.
This is perhaps why Nandita Das wrote in her FB post “Sometimes people seem to forget that it (Cannes) is a festival of films and not of clothes!”