Utpal Borpujari

May 25, 2009

Hinduja asks Cannes organizers to guide Indian filmmakers on festival entry

By Utpal Borpujari in Cannes

Top industrialist S P Hinduja was talking probably the mind of every film lover in India when he made an appeal to organisers here to “guide” Indian filmmakers on how to get their films into the Cannes Film Festival.

Hinduja’s words, during the opening of the India Pavilion at the Marche du Film (Market Section) of the festival on Thursday, evoked polite laughter from Jerome Paillard, head of Marche du Film, and Christian Jeune, deputy director delegate of the Cannes Festival.

Probably they also do not have the answers to why Indian films have become so rare in the official sections of the world’s biggest film festival as well as its prestigious sidebars like Directors’ Fortnight or Critics Week.

Jeune could only sound optimistic on this count, as he said, “Sooner or later, we hope to show a film from India in the Official selection, because the Indian industry is growing very fast.”

The last time an Indian film was part of the official selection was in 2002, when Sanjay Leela Bhansali’s “Devdas” was screened as part of Out of Competition section, and the last Indian film in competition was Shaji N Karun’s “Swaham”.

Paillard chose not to dwell on the topic, instead focusing on how the Indian Pavilion and overall Indian participation could lead to lot of co-production possibilities.

But it was a chaotic opening ceremony that marked the programme than anything else. With Abhishek Bachchan, Manisha Koirala, Deepti Naval, Subhash Ghai and the likes in attendance, a motley crowd of Indians had gathered outside the Pavilion, shouting out their names for autographs and photographs.

Inside, there was no microphone, and those who spoke at the opening ceremony, including Ghai, Information & Broadcasting Ministry secretary Sushma Singh, Directorate of Film Festival director S M Khan and Hinduja were barely audible as people continued chatting and rushing to the bar set up outside on the sea front.

(Parts of it were published in Deccan Herald, www.deccanherald.com, www.deccanheraldepaper.com, 16-05-2009)

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