Deepika Padukone, one of the jury members at this year’s Cannes Film Festival, said India needs to support homegrown talent with “conviction”.
India at Cannes has been at the top of the news last week as India is the country of honour this year at the Marche Du Cinema, the business counterpart of Cannes Film Festival which is having its 75 edition. Hundreds of Indian artists and people from the film industry are at the Cannes representing India in various ways, directors, actors, musicians and even Union Minister for Information and Broadcasting Anurag Thakur was there.
Most importantly though this year popular actor Deepika Padukone is part of the international jury for the festival which is quite an achievement. Another well known actor Aishwarya Rai has also been a jury member in 2003. She completes 20 years of attending the Cannes Festival, a journey which she began in 2002 with the film Devdas.
Noting the massive Indian presence at the red carpet in Cannes, renowned film journalist Anupama Chopra observed that despite India being well represented in 2022 in Cannes, yet there was nothing this year in the main section of the Cannes Film Festival barring the documentary film “All that Breathes” by Shaunak Sen and a student film.
Anupama asked Deepika Padukone how India could get more of our films shown in Cannes in an exclusive interview she did there.
“I believe that as a nation, we have the talent and ability; we just need conviction. I truly believe that there will come a time when India will no longer need to attend Cannes; instead, Cannes will come to ,” Padukone stated.
In addition to her previous statement, Deepika stated that there is a misconception that India does not produce quality content. “I want our writers to know, I want our filmmakers to know, and I want our actors to know that we’re doing everything right,” she said.
Anupama said during the interview, “We haven’t had a film in the main competition since the 1990s,” which got us thinking. In the 1950s, India had a winning streak at the Cannes Film Festival, with films such as Satyajit Ray’s Pather Panchali and Nirupa Roy and Balraj Sahni’s Do Bigha Zamin. Then there were a few wins over the years, including Irrfan Khan’s Salaam Bombay and The Lunchbox, as well as a few screenings of Hindi films like Devdas, Manto, Baahubali, Sarabjit, and Gangs Of Wasseypur.
Deepika answered, “We make blockbuster commercial films. Is that the type of film that gets chosen here? Perhaps not. But having seen enough movies, we know they deserved to be here.” She further added, “As a country, we have a long way to go. I am very proud to represent India as an Indian, but when we look back over the 75 years of Cannes, there are only a few Indian films, actors, or talent that have made it”.
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However, Indian films are not currently being considered for prizes in the main competition. Is it because there is a global perception of Indian films as meaningless commercial musicals? No, if that were true, so many artistic and groundbreaking Indian films would never have made it to, let alone won, this festival.
We firmly believe it’s time to pay attention to what Deepika said and dig deeper into the politics of Indian films being chosen for screenings at international festivals and awards. Our country’s numerous film industries are much more than just masala films. As a result, despite many people’s disdain for international acclaim, being given a global platform to showcase one’s work is a huge opportunity for Indian filmmakers to gain more exposure.
The filmmaking process should be simplified so that the dreams of aspiring artists living in small and remote towns across the country can come true. The perfect example for this is the Malayalam film industry, commonly known as Mollywood, which has been consistently churning out top-notch films, despite budget constraints. The industry focuses on storytelling more than stardom, with excellent writing and filmmaking.
The documentary “All That Breathes” by Delhi-based filmmaker Shaunak Sen and Pratham Khurana’s short film in Le Cinef (a competition for film schools) are India’s only cinematic representation at the main festival.
Sen’s Sundance World Cinema Grand Jury Prize-winning documentary will be shown in the gala’s ‘Special Screening’ segment.
The Cannes Film Festival will conclude on May 28th.