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View From Hollywood: Yes We Cannes

With each passing year, India is gaining strength and Cannes remains Cannes: the most momentous film festival and market in the world

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In mid-May, the magic of the Cannes Film Festival got into full swing and Indian stars, filmmakers, critics, festival directors, distributers, publicists and officials descended on the French Riviera.

This year there were no Indian films in the official selection, other than FTII student Payal Kapadia’s short titled Afternoon Clouds in the Cinefondation section. Nevertheless, there were close to 100 Indian film companies who arrived in Cannes to make an impact.
 
Thenandal Studios' Sanghamitra was launched at the opening night Cannes market party itself with the members of the cast and crew including Narayanan Ramaswamy, Arya, Jayam Ravi, Shruti Haasan, Sabu Cyril and Oscar-winning music composer AR Rahman.

At an elegant event filmmaker and actor Nandita Das unveiled her second feature film, ‘Manto’ backed by HP Studios and Viacom 18 with Namrata Goyal scion of the Jet Airways group making her debut as a Producer. Actors Nawazuddin Siddiqui who is now a known entity at Cannes read out overpowering excerpts from the film script while Rasika Duggal underscored the importance of the biopic in the modern era.

The aesthetically designed India Pavilion was efficiently managed by the National Film Development Corporation and became the hub of all India related activity. Dr Mohan Kumar, an Indian Ambassador to France, rightly urged Cannes authorities not to ignore Indian cinema. The Film Facilitation Office led by Vikramjit Roy opened its doors in Cannes and sought global projects to be shot in India. There was also a collective effort to boost the image of International FilmFestival of India in Goa. Ashok Parmar, the Joint Secretary (Films) stressed on the training initiatives of the Indian Government, including the National Centre of Excellence in Animation, Visual Effects and Comics, being set up in Mumbai and a new Film and Television Institute in Arunachal Pradesh.

In a first of a kind, the Ministry of Commerce along with FICCI set up a competently organised business-to-business meeting venue at the exclusive JW Marriot hotel to facilitate export of Indian cinema products and services. Sangeeta Saxena of Services Export Promotion Council who masterminded the excellent measures initiated her own set of meetings with international companies to push forward Indian entertainment industry in the global market. CII that had earlier established Indian entertainment industry’s presence in Cannes surprisingly this year had near empty uninspiring stands in the film market that foreign delegates used for stopovers between meetings.

Even on the French Riviera, the disconnect between the three organisations representing India was visible as was their latent turf war. In future, it might help to have a joint market strategy for all global media and entertainment events for those investing time and resources to promote Indian business interests overseas. In addition, the conference panels could have employed the services of well-known Indian directors Dev Benegal, Pan Nalin, Rahul Dholakia, Ramesh Sharma and Vijay Singh who were present in Cannes. Also, the majority of the Indian stars busy walking the red carpet gave the Indian pavilion and events a miss as they were not even invited to be part of its programs.

The highpoint of the festival was the annual Hinduja party held at their hill top villa overlooking the bay of Cannes celebrating the 70th anniversary of India’s independence as well as the 70th year of Cannes. The dinner was attended by the crème de la crème of the festival as the Billionaire hosts Gopichand Hinduja and Prakash Hinduja underlined the pioneering role of their family in taking Indian cinema overseas and to Cannes with Raj Kapoor’s Sangam in the early 1960s.

With each passing year, India is gaining strength and Cannes remains Cannes: the most momentous film festival and market in the world.

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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Bhuvan Lall

The author is the Chairman of Lall Entertainment

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