Cannes Film Festival 2018: Manto's reception proves India's representation is way beyond the red carpet

FP Staff

May 14, 2018 16:08:00 IST

While it has now taken on greater importance, the Cannes Film Festival red carpet has always been an achievement.  Over the years, many an Indian star has made an appearance on one of the most coveted spots in world cinema. This year was no different. From Aishwarya Rai Bachchan in a dramatic purple butterfly gown to Kangana Ranaut in her catsuit to Deepika Padukone in her pink origami gown, Indian actresses have racked up the headlines in the French Riviera.

A little unnoticed perhaps, have been the films that are representing the country at the festival.

The Indian films trying to make their mark on Cannes this year include Nandita Das' Manto, Namrata Singh Gujral's 5 Weddings, Ken Scott's The Extraordinary Journey of the Fakir and Rohena Gera's Sir. Apart from these, chef Vikas Khanna will be showcase his directorial debut The Last Color and young thespian Antara Rao will present her short film Asthi.

(Also read — Cannes Film Festival 2018: A look at Indian representation, from Manto to The Extraordinary Journey of the Fakir)

Manto, India's flag-bearer and the official selection of the 71st Cannes Film Festival in the Un Certain Regard section, premiered in a packed Salle Debussy on Sunday.  Twenty-three members of the cast and production team took the stage after the festival's general delegate Thierry Fremaux introduced the director and noted the size of the Manto contingent. "It's India," Das quipped. "Yes, it's India," Thierry said in response.

Speaking to PTI after the screening, Das noted, "My films are rooted in a milieu but I do not seek to explain everything. If you are true to the emotions you are dealing with, a film connects instantly with the audience." That Manto did was pretty obvious as a stunned audience stayed on for long to congratulate the team behind the biopic of the long-deceased Saadat Hasan Manto, an uncompromising writer who fought all his working life to protect creative freedom.

Manto, an Indo-French co-production got off the ground a couple of years ago in Cannes, where Das and lead actor Nawazuddin Siddiqui announced their collaboration. The actor is one of the co-producers of the film. In 2017, the duo was back in Cannes to reveal the first look of the film. That the film is now in the festival's competitive Un certain regard section only brings its journey to a logical launch pad from where it can kick on towards other conquests.

While Dhanush's The Extraordinary Journey of the Fakir has not been screened at the festival, he did unveil the official poster of the film at the French Riviera. He shared images of the event on Twitter.

Adapted from a bestselling Romain Puertolas novel titled The Extraordinary Journey of the Fakir Who Got Trapped in an IKEA Wardrobe, the film will open in France on 30 May before it goes into worldwide distribution.

The Extraordinary Journey of the Fakir is about a magician-conman from a nondescript Mumbai neighbourhood who finds himself in the midst of a series of adventures across Europe when he sets off for Paris to look for his father.

National Award-winning actor Rajkummar Rao will also be seen in 5 Weddings opposite Nargis Fakhri. The film, directed by Namrata Singh Gujral, features Nargis and Rajkummar opposite each other for the first time. The movie is reportedly based on weddings in Bollywood and is narrated from the perspective of an American journalist who comes to India to cover them.

Adding to India's presence at Cannes will be director Rohena Gera for her debut feature film Sir, featuring actress Tillotama Shome.

Gera's Sir, a love story set against the backdrop of a class divide, has been selected for the Cannes Film Festival's the Critics' Week sidebar. Gera's film was first announced at Goa's Film Bazaar in 2016 and revolves around the relationship with a middle class man and his maid. The film has generated enough buzz for the international publication Variety to publish a clip from the film.

(Also read — Palme d'Or nominated films of barred directors from Russia, Iran get standing ovation)

Updated Date: May 14, 2018 16:08:00 IST