Vani Tripathi Tikoo, a filmmaker and CBFC board member, writes exclusively for HT City about Indian cinema taking over the recently concluded Cannes Film Festival. She claims to have returned feeling honored and hopeful.
When two titans celebrate their platinum anniversary together, the occasion is bound to become historic. The Cannes Film Festival celebrated its 75th anniversary this year, coinciding with India’s 75th anniversary of independence. To commemorate this happy coincidence, India, as we all know, was designated as the honoring country. This was the first time a nation had received such an honor at Marche Du Film. We all know how dynamic the Indian film market is and how close we are to Cannes.
It dates back to 1946 when India was still fighting for independence. Chetan Anand won a Grand Prix for his film Neecha Nagar the same year. Hence, if you take a closer look at Cannes, you’ll notice that Independent India has been a recurring presence. This festival has also been a regular in my life, and I have previously attended, spoken, and participated in forums there.
This year, however, felt truly special, and I felt a strong sense of pride the entire four days I was there. Both as an Indian and an artist. It all started with that iconic image of India Inc. on the red carpet. It felt like a dream to be a part of the Indian delegation alongside Anurag Singh Thakur, who is such a dynamo, and our crown jewels, A R Rahman, Shekhar Kapur, Prasoon Joshi, R. Madhavan, and Nawazuddin Siddique. As the only woman in this all-male lineup, I had to wear something that “felt me.” I chose the blue silk sari, which was handwoven in Varanasi and purchased on one of my trips there. The geometric motifs in gold added a sheen to the weave’s elegant, understated appeal.
From a practical standpoint, I believe we were able to make quite an impression not only with our cinema but also with the talent present at the festival. On opening night, the two-time Grammy award-winning composer Ricky key and Mame Khan, who recreates Rajasthan with his powerful folklore, performed to a packed house. Tamanna Bhatia and Pooja Hegde also made an impression at the festival, representing the Indian film industry, particularly from the south. Our plume was R Rehman, who was with the delegation. Shekhar Kapur added an international flair.
Deepika Padukone left an indelible mark as a jury member. That girl is as sharp as she is beautiful, and we had a packed pavilion when she unveiled the poster for the IFFI, which will be held in Goa later this year. This year, we are very excited to welcome Jerome Pillard (whom I have known for years), Festival Director Cannes, Christiane Jeune, and Thierry Fremaux to IFFI. With Goa as the festival’s permanent home, we hope to make IFFI the Cannes of the East!
I moderated a panel discussion on how India was emerging as the world’s content leader and how the emergence of the OTT platform was changing the power dynamics in cinema. How it was opening doors for many people who no longer had to wait to be a part of the 100-crore club to make it in the film industry. I concluded the session with Jai Shankar Prasad’s poetry in Hindi, which tells the world to march on.
When you look at Indian cinema that is celebrated in Cannes, whether it is Neecha Nagar, which was directed as a story of the underdog, or recent films like Lunchbox, Manto, Masaan, and Shaji Karun’s Piravi, which was celebrated a couple of years ago, it is always telling a story of the common man. Saying it with a powerful voice and an even more powerful visual. Today, the world celebrates.