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Cannes 2018: From 'Sir' To 'Manto', A Sneak-Peak Of Indian Presence

The emerging box office market leader of the world is China and still with smartphone penetration increasing rapidly across India we can be the global winner in the monetization of digital content


Every year in May the eyes of the world turn to Cannes, as the most famous and exclusive film festival arrives at red-carpeted steps of the renowned Palais des Festivals - for a celebration of cinema. The world’s most sought-after cinematic affair filled with celebrities, global royalty, yacht-owning billionaires and the Hollywood elite is talked about all over the world. And at the end of eleven days, the festival comes to an end as the year's competition jury announces which films won the festival's biggest prizes, including the Palme d'Or – arguably the biggest prize in the world of cinema.

A lot of other Indian films are screened at the market and even promoted at the India pavilion every year and mistakenly considered as part of the exclusive official festival selection and program. Each year only 20 films participate in the Competition section of the festival while another 20 are part of the UnCertain Regard section and some films are selected for the significant parallel sections – the Critics Week and Directors Fortnight. 

This year in the 71st edition of the festival, ‘Manto’ directed by Nandita Das was selected as part of the UnCertain Regard section. The film, starring Nawazuddin Siddiqui and Rasika Duggal played out on the big screen of the Salle Debussy at the Palais des Festivals et des Congrès in the midst of thunderous applause. The Hollywood Reporter recorded, “The handsome Siddiqui, flashing the cleft chin and defiant gaze of an Indian Marcello Mastroianni, is riveting even when Manto enters a downward spiral of alcoholism in the final scenes.” 

Another film that made news in Cannes was of filmmaker Rohena Gera's ‘Sir’, a love story set against the backdrop of a class divide, that was selected among the seven films for the Festival's the Critics' Week sidebar.

This year at Cannes, Indian actor Dhanush, who made his international debut in Ken Scott’s Indo-French co-production, ‘The Extraordinary Journey of the Fakir’, based on Romain Puertolas best-selling debut novel launched the poster of his film. Manoj Bajpayee also launched the poster of ‘Bhonsle’ his latest film that is likely to do the festival circuit in 2018.

One of the highpoints at the India pavilion was the successful launch of the biographical drama to be produced by Mukta Arts. Directed by Lakshen Sucameli and produced by Subhash Ghai, this Indo Italian co-production was announced with deafening applause and with standing room only space at the pavilion. The film structured as a large-budget India-Italy co-venture is set to roll soon. Earlier along with Hollywood producer Ashok Amritraj and Isabelle Giordano of Unifrance, Ghai was the highlight at the ‘India Day’ celebrations and also at the Founding Indo French Producers Roundtable event in Cannes.

This year, out of the 5615 organizations that were represented at the Marche du Film at Cannes about 98 companies were from India. And of the 11,820 official delegates, only 197 came from India as against 304 from Japan, 530 from China, 637 from the Middle East and Central Asia and a staggering 1953 from the United States. According to the figures released at Cannes, Chinese gross box office stood at $8.27 billion in 2017 second only to the USA at $10.5 billion and India despite being the largest film producing nation on Earth was a distant fourth clubbed along with South Korea holding a $1.6 billion box office gross while Japanese box office figures were $2 billion in 2017. Despite the colossal success of our films in China, the reality is that Indian filmdom still remains a bit player in the multi-billion dollar global trade of film at Cannes. The emerging box office market leader of the world is China and still with smartphone penetration increasing rapidly across India, we can be the global winner in the monetization of digital content.

Disclaimer: The views expressed in the article above are those of the authors' and do not necessarily represent or reflect the views of this publishing house. Unless otherwise noted, the author is writing in his/her personal capacity. They are not intended and should not be thought to represent official ideas, attitudes, or policies of any agency or institution.

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Festival De Cannes 2018

Bhuvan Lall

The author is the Chairman of Lall Entertainment

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