India Entertainment
Cannes: wake up call for India
Apr 28, 2007 - 11:39:32 AM

New Delhi, April 28 - India, one of the largest filmmaking countries in the world, has again failed to mark its presence in the Cannes Film Festival's main competition section.

While the 60th Cannes Film Festival beginning May 16 is dominated by a European line-up, some impressive Asian works too have managed to enter the competition section. But there are none from India.

'It is entirely up to the jury members to select films for the various competition sections. They didn't find a single Indian film which they felt was up to the mark,' said National Award winning film critic Saibal Chatterjee.

'India doesn't produce anything that comes close to the best cinematic works of others,' he added.

Two South Korean films - director Kim Ki-duk's 'Breath' and Lee Chang-dong's 'Secret Sunshine' - and Japanese filmmaker Naomi Kawase's 'Mogari No Mor' have made it to the competition section.

This year's opening film will be Hong Kong-based director Kar Wai Wong's romantic drama 'My Blueberry Nights'. The film revolves around a young woman who takes a soul-searching journey across the US to resolve questions about love and life, while encountering a series of odd characters along the way.

Denys Arcand's Canadian movie 'The Age of Darkness' will be the closing film. The festival ends May 27.

From India, Raka Dutta's 28-minute film 'Chinese Whispers' is the only movie that's been selected for the students' short film section by the jury members for Cinefondation - a not-for-profit organisation that promotes the work of student filmmakers in postgraduate programmes.

Dutta is a Satyajit Ray Film Institute - graduate.

Meanwhile, the Indian media appears to be quite gungho about seven more films from the country being screened at the prestigious festival, though none of them are being shown in a competition section.

They will be screened at Tous les cinemas du monde -, an independent section and not a part of the festival's official selection.

The films are: G. Vasanta Balan's 'Veyil' -, D. Bijukumar's 'Saira' -, Mridul Toolsidass' 'Missed Call' -, Bhavna Talwar's 'Dharm', Mani Ratnam's 'Guru' -, Raj Kumar Hirani's 'Lage Raho Munna Bhai' - and 'Dosar' -.

'The world has moved ahead. They are making films that are cutting edge. The filmmakers are using new ideas but we are repeating the same old thing. In fact we don't make cinema at all. We make entertainers to please the masses,' said Chatterjee.

Seems true.

Shaji N. Karun's Malayalam film 'Swaham' - was the last movie to enter the competition in 1994 and was nominated for the Golden Palm. In 2003, Murali Nair's 'Arimpara' was featured in the Un Certain section. Since then, India hasn't got a nomination for any competition.

India made a good start at the first Cannes Film Festival in 1946 - Chetan Anand's 'Neecha Nagar' was shown in the competition section and it walked away with the Grand Prix award. After that, there was lull for almost a decade. And then Satyajit Ray entered with 'Pather Panchali', which bagged the Best Human Document Award.

In the following years, filmmakers like K.A. Abbas -, M.S. Sathyu -, Mrinal Sen - and Shyam Benegal -, who made thought-provoking films with courageous and imaginative stories, were nominated in different competition sections at Cannes.

But in recent times, despite the fact that some good films are being made in India, Indian films failed to impress the selectors.

This should be a wake up call for Indian filmmakers who should try to balance good cinema with entertainers. They need to represent a kaleidoscope of cultures and create a medium to appreciate and share cinematic excellence.

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