Finally, India’s presence this year can be felt beyond Monsoon Shootout and Bombay Talkies.
I do not even remember when was the last time that the country which churns out 1,200 or so movies year after year and in many languages had more than one film in the Festival’s official sections.
Last year, India had Ashim Ahluwalia’s Miss Lovely in Cannes’s second most important section, A Certain Regard. And then there was Anurag Kashyap’s Gangs of Wasseypur (Part 1 and 2), but in Directors’ Fortnight, a sidebar which runs along with the Festival though not considered a part of it.
But Cannes is certainly fond of Kashyap. Or, so it seems. Both movies this year have a Kashyap connection.
Amit Kumar’s Monsoon Shootout will be shown out of competition in a midnight screening at the Festival’s 66th edition. The other Indian work is Bombay Talkies, helmed by Anurag Kashyap, Dibakar Banerjee, Karan Johar and Zoya Akhtar. This will be part of a special tribute to India.
While Monsoon Shootout is co-produced by Anurag Kashyap Films, one of the four segments in Bombay Talkies has been directed by him. Both works are in Hindi.
Monsoon Shootout, which stars Vijay Varma, Nawazuddin Siddiqi, Tannishtha Chatterjee, Neeraj Kabi and Geetanjali Thapa, plays out against the monsoon-lashed gritty urban landscape of Mumbai. A thriller, it traces the lives and dilemmas of a rookie cop, Guru, and a suspected gangster, Shiva.
Bombay Talkies’ four stories have very different plots. While Banerjee will talk about a failed actor, struggling to make a living after his father’s death, Kashyap narrates the experiences of a man who migrates to Mumbai from a small town to fulfil his dying father’s last wish.
Johar’s work deals with the extra-marital relationship of a happy urban wife whose life goes into a spin after she meets a new colleague at her office. Akhtar, on her part, focusses on a 12-year-old boy from a middleclass family who is inspired by a movie star to follow his dream.
In a recent interview to Firstpost, Kashyap was unabashed when he replied to a question whether he would make a traditional “masala” movie, “I have made Bombay Talkies, have I not?”
Indian cinema is known the world over for its melodramas, a term that can be synonymous with “masala” or, in other words, a fare packed with songs, dances, weepy emotional sequences and fights. Over the years, this kind of cinema has been popularly titled Bollywood, a name that has rather unfairly been used to describe all kinds Indian cinema — in all languages and in all genres!
Be that as it may, as much as India may rejoice the fact that there are two Indian films at Cannes this year, it is still disappointing that the country could not make it the top Competition slot. The last Indian movie in Competition was Shaji N. Karun’s Swaham in 1994.
Finally, India’s presence this year can be felt beyond Monsoon Shootout and Bombay Talkies. The opening film, Baz Luhrmann’s The Great Gatsby, has an Indian touch to it with an appearance by Amitabh Bachchan.
Both Bachchan and South Indian superstar, Rajnikanth, will walk the Red Carpet on the inaugural night. Rajnikanth will present a trailer of his Kochadaiyaan presumably at the Cannes Market.
Also, Indian actress-director Nandita Das will be part of the Cinefondation Jury, chaired by New Zealand’s celebrated Jane Campion. Das was part of the main international jury a few years ago.
Reports also talk of an invitation to actress Aishwarya Rai to attend the Festival; she has been a permanent presence there, in any case.
I am sure there will be more of India at Cannes this summer.
Gautaman Bhaskaran, who is India Editor of FMT and Chennai-based author, columnist and movie critic, will cover the Cannes Film Festival this May. He may be emailed at [email protected]