• Monday, June 17, 2024

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Best year yet for Indian filmmakers at Cannes 2024

(From L) Indian actress Divya Prabha, Indian director Payal Kapadia, Indian actress Chhaya Kadam and Indian actress Kani Kusruti (Photo by LOIC VENANCE/AFP via Getty Images)

By: Mohnish Singh

It was a triple feat for Indian talent at the 2024 Cannes Film Festival with Payal Kapadia’s All We Imagine As Light, Sunflowers Were the First Ones to Know by FTII student Chidananda S Naik, and Anasuya Sengupta of The Shameless fame winning major awards in each of the three competitive sections of the prestigious gala.

The 77th edition of Cannes, which concluded on Saturday, was undoubtedly the best year for the country which found space at the fest through eight Indian, or India-themed, films.

Kapadia, an alumna of the Film & Television Institute of India (FTII), charted history by becoming the first Indian filmmaker to win the Grand Prix award for All We Imagine as Light.

The director also made her debut on X on Sunday after posts from fake accounts attributed to her started doing social media rounds.

“Thank you everyone for the good wishes! I’m really overwhelmed! I prefer to stay away from social media. But I noticed some fake accounts on my name so I thought it best to start my account. This is me!” Kapadia wrote in her first post on the microblogging site.

According to X, the page was created in May 2024.

The filmmaker, who garnered over 1,700 followers on X within hours, also shared a link to a fact-check story about her fake accounts on the Internet.

All We Imagine As Light, Kapadia’s feature directorial debut, is the first Indian film in 30 years and the first ever by an Indian female director to be showcased in the main competition, the last being Shaji N Karun’s Swaham (1994).

“Thank you, Cannes Film Festival for having our film here. Please don’t wait 30 years to have another Indian film,” she had said in her speech.

The movie earned the honour, the second-most prestigious prize of the gala after the Palme d’Or, which went to American director Sean Baker for Anora.

All We Imagine as Light, a Malayalam-Hindi feature starring Kani Kusruti, Divya Prabha, and Chhaya Kadam, revolves around three women in Mumbai who go on a road trip to a beach town.

That the film will win an award became almost certain when it received glowing reviews following its premiere, with some international critics describing it as a “portrait of urban connection” and “poetic meditation” as well as comparing Kapadia’s work to that of Satyajit Ray and Wong Kar Wai.

Though the second most prestigious prize at Cannes, the Grand Prix has a storied history with prominent titles including The Zone of Interest and Oldboy as part of the list.

All We Imagine as Light has already found distributors for its North America release, but it’s unclear when the film will be screened in India.

Prime Minister Narendra Modi said India is “proud” of Kapadia for her historic feat.

“An alumnus of FTII, her remarkable talent continues to shine on the global stage, giving a glimpse of the rich creativity in India. This prestigious accolade not only honours her exceptional skills but also inspires a new generation of Indian filmmakers,” he said in a post on X.

India is proud of Payal Kapadia for her historic feat of winning the Grand Prix at the 77th Cannes Film Festival for her work ‘All We Imagine as Light’. An alumnus of FTII, her remarkable talent continues to shine on the global stage, giving a glimpse of the rich creativity in… pic.twitter.com/aMJbsbmNoE

— Narendra Modi (@narendramodi) May 26, 2024

These women have scripted history and inspired the Indian film fraternity, said Congress leader Rahul Gandhi about Kapadia and Sengupta.

Kapadia, who led a student protest against the appointment of actor-politician Gajendra Chauhan as FTII chairman, had won the Oeil d’Or (Golden Eye) award at Cannes for the acclaimed documentary A Night of Knowing Nothing which premiered under the Director’s Fortnight section in 2021.

Her 2017 short film Afternoon Clouds opened at Cannes under the Cinefondation category, dedicated to supporting the next generation of talented filmmakers.

That’s not all.

Read Also: Priyanka Chopra hails Indian film achievements at Cannes 2024

Production designer Sengupta, who starred in a key role in Bulgarian director Konstantin Bojanov’s The Shameless, became the first Indian to win the Best Actress prize in Un Certain Regard.

The Shameless explores a dark world of exploitation and misery in which two sex workers forge a bond.

Sengupta dedicated her win “to the queer community and other marginalised communities”.

“You don’t have to be queer to fight for equality, you don’t have to be colonised to know that colonising is pathetic — we just need to be decent human beings,” she said.

Neeraj Ghaywan’s Masaan previously won two awards—FIPRESCI, International Jury of Film Critics prize, and Promising Future prize in the section.

Naik’s Sunflowers…, which won the La Cinef first prize (film school fiction or animated films), was another feather in FTII’s cap.

Based on a Kannada folktale, the movie follows an old woman who steals a rooster following which the sun stops rising in the village.

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