Cannes Film Festival 2018: From Do Bigha Zamin to Titli, notable Indian films that have made the cut

FP Staff

May 03, 2018 12:53:49 IST

It is safe to say that India has had a chequered history over the years at the Cannes Film Festival. In recent years, the juries have not been kind as no Indian film made the cut in 2017. In 2018, things are a little better with four films being screened at the festival as Dhanush’s The Extraordinary Journey Of The Fakir, Nawazuddin Siddiqui's Manto, Tillotama Shome's Sir and Dinakar Rao's Asthi will seek to wow audiences at the French Riviera.

In the years gone by, however, some Indian films have truly impressed. On Throwback Thursday, let us take a look back at some of finest Indian work to make it to Cannes.

Neecha Nagar

It all started with the Chetan Anand classic Neecha Nagar which went on to win the Grand Prix at Cannes in 1946. Unfortunately, the film, made during the last phase of the freedom movement (1945-46) with all the restrictions the British could enforce, was never released commercially in India. The film depicted the sufferings and struggles of Neecha Nagar — the name deriving from a low-lying city suburb — against a tyrant who diverts water supply to make profits and then opens a hospital to nurse those stricken by consuming contaminated water. It starred Zohra Sehgal and Uma Anand in pivotal roles.

Do Bigha Zamin

Do Bigha Zamin got National Award-winning director Bimal Roy honoured at the Prix Internationale at Cannes 1954. The Balraj Sahni-starrer is a simple story of a farmer who has been hit by the Bengal famine and cannot pay back the zamindar. Outlook called it the "epitome of the socialist-humanist Indian cinema of the 1950s as married our traditional melodramatic elements of storytelling with the neo-realism of Vittorio De Sica."

Pather Pachali

1956 was perhaps the year for Indian cinema at Cannes as Bengali auteur Satyajit Ray's work was recognised at the festival. Based on Bibhutibhushan Bandyopadhyay's 1929 Bengali novel of the same name, Ray's Pather Pachali is widely regarded as the first film from independent India that put the nation on the world map. It was the first part of the Apu trilogy which follow a free-spirited child in rural Bengal who matures into an adolescent urban student and finally a sensitive man of the world.

Cannes Film Festival 2018: From Do Bigha Zamin to Titli, notable Indian films that have made the cut

Pather Panchali. Facebook

Salaam Bombay

Mira Nair's famous debut film Salaam Bombay was about a runaway boy eking out a living as a tea-seller in Mumbai's notorious red-light area. It followed the life of a young kid Krishna who has come to the big city to earn Rs 500 and nurtures the dream of going back to his mother someday. The National Award-winning film starred Shafiq Syed as young Krishna, and launched the career of Irrfan Khan. Raghuvir Yadav and Nana Patekar played the roles of a drug addict and a pimp respectively.


Devdas, inspired by Sarat Chandra Chattopadhyay's 1901 novella, featured Shah Rukh Khan as Devdas, Aishwarya Rai Bachchan as Paro and Madhuri Dixit as Chandramukhi. The Sanjay Leela Bhansali film was a cinematic marvel with the revelry of dance and music, and a tragic love story splashed with myriad emotions. It was screened at Cannes in 2002.

Madhuru Dixit and Aishwarya Rai in Devdas. Twitter/@Palunquita

Devdas. Twitter/@Palunquita


Striking just the right chords with its small town setting and magnificent performances by Rajat Barmecha and Ronit Roy, Vikramaditya Motwane's debut film was a breakout hit and its brilliance was recognised at Cannes 2010. It told the story of a young boy returning home to an alcoholic, abusive father and how he pursues his dream of being a writer while trying to protect his half-brother from their father.


Kanu Behl's debut film Titli was screened in Cannes as part of the Un Certain Regard section in 2014. It revolved around the volatile relationship between two brothers, one of whom runs away from home to escape his oppressive family but turns to a life of crime. The film starred Ranvir Shorey, Amit Sial and newcomer Shashank Arora. The title Titli or butterfly, is used as a metaphor for the fluttering wings of the lead character (Arora) named Titli, who is restless and wants to break free from the shackles of his gory family and be set free into another world to find his paradise.

Titli. YouTube screenshot

Titli. YouTube screenshot

With inputs from IANS

Updated Date: May 03, 2018 12:53:49 IST

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