May 24 2015
• Film ‘Masaan’ collects two major prizes in Cannes
• Neeraj Ghaywan’s debut film is about love and sex across a caste divide
• Punjabi film ‘Chauthi Koot’ also featured in Uncertain Regard section
• Bollywood stars Aishwarya Rai, Sonam Kapoor and Katrina Kaif walked red carpet for L’Oreal
• We have video interviews with Aishwarya Rai, Sonam Kapoor and ‘Chauthi Koot’ director Gurvinder Singh from Cannes 2015 (Coming shortly).
INDIA can celebrate a very successful Cannes Film Festival as the 68th edition draws to a close today.
Last night, it was announced that “Masaan” had picked up a ‘A Most Promising Prize’ for its debutant director Neeraj Ghaywan (top right) from the Uncertain Regard jury.
International critics who make up Fipresci (the international federation of film critics) also handed “Masaan”, the best film award from the 19 entries in the Uncertain Regard section.
It is a film about small town expectations, set in Varanasi and focuses on a romance between a low caste Hindu funeral assistant and a rather better-to-do and high caste daughter of a guest house owner. The film was produced by Anurag Kashyap and Guneet Monga. Both have been regulars at Cannes over the years. Kashyap is widely regarded as the leading independent director of his generation and both his films, “Gangs of Wasseypur” and “Ugly” have premiered in Cannes, though in less prestigious sections of the festival. Monga is widely seen as the most powerful producer of independent films in India. She was in Cannes this time to promote “Masaan”.
The Uncertain Regard award for Ghaywan was shared with Iranian filmmaker Ida Panahandeh for her film, “Nahid”, an account of a divorce and new marriage.
India had two films in the Uncertain Regard Section this year, as well as “Masaan” there was “Chauthi Koot” – a Punjabi film set in the troubles of the 1980s, was also well received and – www.asianculturevulture.com having seen it – can say it grows on you.
It isn’t clear when UK audiences will get a chance to see these films – though Gurvinder Singh, whom we interviewed in Cannes (video interview to come), indicated it should feature in the London Film Festival, which is usually in October.
Elsewhere, there was the usual razzmatazz that surrounds the Bollywood stars who visit Cannes.
Katrina Kaif made her debut in Cannes for L’Oreal, which is one of the sponsors of the festival, and has several Indian ambassadors.
Chief among them and almost ever present over the last ten years or so, has been Aishwarya Rai. She spoke to us about her Cannes experience this year (in another video to be published shortly here).
Also now a regular and very much the younger woman’s fashion idol is Sonam Kapoor.
We spoke to her too and were among the first to see her in a dress described as an ‘Ostrich’ or ‘worn-out rug’, but others praised the Elie Saab powder green dress for its originality and daring quality. She told us about the new Bollywood films she is working on.
She certainly liked the Saab dress herself at the time – before she walked the red carpet for the film, “Inside Out” on Monday (May 18). You can hear her talk about it to us in our video interview.
Independent filmmakers Ghayan’s and Panahandeh’s wins are all the more impressive when you consider the Uncertain Regard jury – which was headed this year by Hollywood and European star actor/director Isabella Rossellini.
Also on the jury were up and coming director Nadine Labaki, from Lebanon and one of France’s hottest actors, Tahar Rahim (“A Prophet”, 2009). The other jury members were Haifaa al-Mansour, a director from Saudi Arabia and Pannos H. Koutras a Greek director.
The Uncertain Regard section is only one down from the prestigious main competition which features the biggest US and European films, which vie for the Palme D’Or – the top prize at Cannes. It will be announced later this evening.