Utpal Borpujari

May 11, 2009

Cannes: The (Sad) India story

By Utpal Borpujari

India. The world’s biggest filmmaking nation, churning out around 1,000 films a year. But it cannot make a single film that gets selected to the Festival de Cannes, the world’s biggest film festival. At least that has been the story for quite a few years now. The last Indian film to be selected for the Competition, the showcase of the festival, was Shaji N Karun’s Swaham in 1994, and the last Indian film to be screened in any official section was Sanjay Leela Bhansali’s Devdas, which was in Out of Competition in 2002. Two short films, Tetris in 2006 and Chinese Whispers in 2007, directed by Satyajit Ray Film & Television Institute students Anirban Dutta and Raka Dutta respectively, have been shown in the Cinefondation section for student films. In the last two years, even that much representation in Cannes has eluded India.

Two years ago, commemorating the 60th anniversary of India’s independence as well as the 60th year of the Cannes festival, seven feature films were screened under “India Focus” as part of the “Tous les Cinemas du Monde” (All the Cinemas of the World) section, but this section is usually meant for “emerging” film industries of the world, and everyone knows India has a cinematic history dating back to early 20th history!

The pathetic situation of Indian cinema vis-à-vis Cannes, which attracts the world’s top filmmakers, has been given a rather comical yet sorry twist by sundry filmmakers who screen their films in the Market Section of the festival (including in the Short Film Corner section) paying a pre-designated fee (It is a platform provided on a purely commercial basis to filmmakers willing to pay the pre-decided fee to screen their films, including even trashy ones, before prospective international buyers, and is not part of the festival as such) and then claiming back home that their films have been “screened” or “shown” at the Cannes festival! Aiding these unscrupulous elements are, of course, a willing and glamour-driven media who duly publicizes such claims without verification.

As if the make up for non-selection of Indian films, the Cannes organisers have this year selected two Indians as jury members – Sharmila Tagore in the main Competition section and film critic-programmer Uma Da Cunha in the Un Certain Regard section. They follow up on Nandita Das (2005) and Aishwarya Rai (2002)’s similar achievements. But there will be a large Indian presence at Cannes this year for sure, like previous years, with the Information & Broadcasting Ministry setting up an India Pavilion in association with industry body ASSOCHAM at the Market section, where panel discussions, one-on-one meetings and information dissemination will happen with regard to co-production possibilities and promotion of shooting locales in India for filmmakers from abroad. Also, there will be a drove of Indian film personalities promoting their upcoming films in front of prospective international buyers.  

(Pupblished in Deccan Herald, www.deccanherald.com, www.deccanheraldepaper.com, 10-05-2009)

http://www.deccanherald.com/content/1624/cinemas-bloodiest-year-ever.html

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1 Comment »

  1. […] Original post by utpalb21 […]

    Pingback by Cannes: The (Sad) India story — May 11, 2009 @ 2:30 pm | Reply


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