April 27, 2011 11:55:21 AM IST Rajesh Kumar Singh, Glamsham Editorial
It is one of the twin obsessions; Academy awards are the other one. They mean ultimate glory and high for Bollywood filmmakers, stars, and technicians.
Bollywood's Cannes obsession has assumed silly dimensions this year and even someone like Shekhar Kapoor, the only filmmaker to successfully graduate from Bollywood to Hollywood, has not remained unaffected by it. He has been shouting from the rooftops about the inclusion of a documentary titled BOLLYWOOD- THE GREATEST LOVE STORY EVER TOLD in the 'out of competition' section of the 64th Festival de Cannes to begin on 11th May, 2011. In his enthusiasm he even went ahead and tweeted about 'the tickets to the show being sold out within a day of the film's announcement'. He missed the fact that Cannes does not have ticketed shows and it has yet to announce its schedule and the accredited delegates will be arriving at the venue around 10th May, 2011, and will reserve their seats at the screenings thereafter.
SONAM KAPOOR and AISHWARYA RAI BACHCHAN
It is not only Kapoor, our star of the Millennium, the one and only Mr. Amitabh Bachchan just a few months ago tweeted proudly about his meeting with Rakeysh Omprakash Mehra regarding a film 'that is going to Cannes'. One does not know if he was aware of the title of the film at that time. Everyone knows he hates the usage of the pejorative expression 'Bollywood' and takes umbrage when someone brands the mainstream Hindi cinema as such.
Then there is the news of Bollywood stars like Aishwarya Rai Bachchan, and Sonam Kapoor walking the red carpet at Cannes this year not because any of their films is being screened there but as the faces of a major cosmetic brand. Malad girl Freida Pinto will be there too as one of those faces. She is a Hollywood star in true sense and last year her Woody Allen film was part of the Cannes programme. We have heard that Anil Kapoor will join his daughter on the Red Carpet as well. Who knows, he may even perform an impromptu Bhangra in his over excited state for the benefit of the TV media, if we go by his performance at the 81st Academy Awards when Danny Boyle's SLUMDOG MILLIONAIRE had won it big. International spotlight sends the spirits of Bollywood stars soaring to great heights.
Earlier, a whole lot of Indian filmmakers claimed in the media that the Cannes officials were considering their films for inclusion in its official programme this year. Then there were bits and pieces of news about some Indian short films being accepted at the short film corner. Yes, there are about ten or fifteen Indian names in the long list of more than 1600 'registered' with the corner. Soon, you will read about many other Indian films and their Cannes screenings; actually market screenings, tom-tommed as significant milestones, to be fraudulently used as a marketing USP back home in India. These are in fact paid previews, organised to sell the film to international distributors, with the possibility of none turning up for the shows.
However, the obsession of Bollywood glitterati with Cannes has nothing to do with their love for quality cinema. Cannes presents them an opportunity to have a little share of the international limelight and that is all. Last year UDAAN was in the UN Certain Regard section of the festival and the big time Bollywood celebrities did not even care to attend its screening, giving rise to a vicious Anurag Kashyap outburst. He was damn riled by their insensitivity and minced no words in lambasting them for not turning up for the show.
(Rajesh Kumar Singh is Editorial Consultant for Festivals and Markets for BollywoodTrade.com. He is a filmmaker, critic and market analyst)