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Prateik Babbar to attend Cannes premiere of mother Smita Patil’s ‘Manthan’

Prateik Babbar (Photo by SUJIT JAISWAL/AFP via Getty Images)

By: Mohnish Singh

The 77th edition of the Cannes Film Festival will always hold a special place in actor Prateik Babbar’s life as his mother Smita Patil’s film Manthan is scheduled to be screened at the prestigious gala.

During the early hours of Thursday, Prateik was spotted at the Mumbai airport as he left for Cannes. He was all smiles while shutterbugs clicked him.

The film premiere will be attended by Naseeruddin Shah, the producers of the film and Film Heritage Foundation’s Shivendra Singh Dungarpur. It will be screened at the festival on May 17.

Manthan, which starred Naseeruddin Shah and late actress Smita Patil, is the only Indian film to be selected under the Cannes Classic section of the festival this year.

Presenting at the Cannes Film Festival for the third time in a row, the Film Heritage Foundation has previously premiered Thamp (2022) and Ishanou (2023) at the prestigious film festival, read a statement.

Fronted by Smita Patil, the film was inspired by the pioneering milk cooperative movement of Verghese Kurien, who led ‘Operation Flood’ to transform India from a milk-deficient country to the world’s biggest milk producer and is credited for creating the billion-dollar brand ‘Amul’.

Shyam Benegal’s directorial won two National Film Awards in 1977: for Best Feature Film in Hindi and Best Screenplay for Tendulkar. It was also India’s official entry to the 1976 Academy Awards in the best foreign language film category.

Elated about it, Shyam Benegal said, “I was absolutely delighted when Shivendra told me that Film Heritage Foundation was going to restore Manthan in collaboration with the Gujarat Milk Marketing Federation Ltd. Manthan is a film that is very close to my heart as it was funded by 500,000 farmers and was instrumental in the growth of an extraordinary cooperative movement that was aimed at breaking the shackles of economic inequality and caste discrimination whilst empowering the farmers. It will remind the world of the power of cinema as a vehicle of change and also the legacy of the great Verghese Kurien, the Father of the White Revolution. Govind Nihalani and I have been following the progress of the restoration closely and I am amazed by the meticulous approach to the restoration. It is wonderful to see the film come back to life almost like we made it yesterday. Film Heritage Foundation has been doing remarkable work in film restoration. Not only are they beautifully restoring films from every region of India, but bringing them back to the public at festivals and screenings around the world in a way that showcases our unique film heritage to contemporary global audiences.”

Naseeruddin Shah stated, “I started my career as an actor with Nishant followed by Manthan, both directed by Shyam Benegal. ‘Manthan’ was a runaway success when it was released almost 50 years ago and it is a film that is remembered even today. I remember that during the shooting of Manthan, I lived in the hut, learnt to make cow dung cakes and milk a buffalo. I would carry the buckets and serve the milk to the unit to get the physicality of the character. I am so glad that the Film Heritage Foundation has restored this remarkable film and that this small film made with the support of the farmers has been restored with so much love and care. It is thanks to the persistence, hard work and efforts of Film Heritage Foundation that the film will be premiered in its second life, as it deserves to be, at the Cannes Film Festival and I am so glad that I will be there to present it myself.”

After getting to know about the film’s screening at Cannes, megastar Amitabh Bachchan also expressed happiness.

Taking to X, Big B wrote, “T 4992 – So proud that Film Heritage Foundation will be at the Cannes Film Festival for the third year in a row with another world premiere of a remarkable restoration – Shyam Benegal’s film Manthan that had compelling performances from an exceptional cast including Smita Patil. Just amazing the work that Film Heritage Foundation does to preserve, restore and showcase the best of India’s film heritage to the world.”

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