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Good ol' glory: Bollywood films that bagged awards at Cannes

With the Cannes Film Festival underway, here’s taking a look at past Indian films that bagged awards at this celebrated film fest

The 67th edition of the Cannes film festival kicked off yesterday with the screening of the Nicole Kidman-starrer, Grace of Monaco.

Uday Chopra happens to be one of the producers of this biopic. However, he’s not the only Indian face at the French Riviera this year. Along with the usual dose of Bollywood glamour (read: Aishwarya Rai-Bachchan, Sonam Kapoor and many more), this year will see director Kanu Behl keeping his fingers crossed even as his film Titli competes in the Camera d’Or category, which acknowledges the best debut effort.

A still from the film, 'Titli', is one of the contenders for Camera d'Or at the ongoing Cannes Film Festival.
A still from the film, 'Titli', is one of the contenders for Camera d'Or at the ongoing Cannes Film Festival.

Interestingly, over the years, several films have been screened at Cannes but none have won an award in the competitive categories. hitlist takes you down the memory lane to look at films from India that were not only screened at the prestigious film fest but also won laurels...

'Neecha Nagar' (1946)
Neecha Nagar

Director: Chetan Anand
The lowdown: When the Cannes Film Festival was held for the first time after the World War II in 1946, this Hindi film bagged the Palm d’Or (Golden Palm) along with 10 other entries from around the world.

'Do Bigha Zamin' (1953)
Do Bigha Zamin

Director: Bimal Roy
The lowdown: Heavily inspired by Bicycle Thieves (1948), this Bengali film — starring Balraj Sahni and Nirupa Roy in leading roles — won the Golden Palm along with eight other movies.

'Boot Polish' (1954)
Boot Polish

Director: Prakash Arora
The lowdown: A Raj Kapoor production, the film’s socialist approach was difficult to ignore but its story won the audiences over. To add to this, the festival made a special mention of child actress Naaz who rendered a heartwarming performance in the film.

'Pather Panchali' (1955)
Director: Satyajit Ray
The lowdown: This film is counted among Ray’s best works. At the Cannes film fest, it unanimously won the Best Human Document award.

Pather Panchali won the Best Human Document award at the 1956 Cannes Film Festival, setting the tone of filmmaker Satyajit Ray’s success story in the global arena
Pather Panchali won the Best Human Document award at the 1956 Cannes Film Festival, setting the tone of filmmaker Satyajit Ray’s success story in the global arena

'Gotoma the Buddha' (1956)
Director: Rajbans Khanna
The lowdown: The film’s title may have not been conventional but its message was clear. This feted documentary was nominated for Palm d’Or and it won a special mention for the director who, interestingly, never made another film.

'Kharij' (1982)
Director: Mrinal Sen
The lowdown: This Bengali film was nominated for the Palm d’Or, which was won by the Japanese film, The Ballad of Narayama. However, Sen didn’t return home emptyhanded as he was awarded the Jury Prize.

'Salaam Bombay!' (1988)
'Salaam Bombay!'

Director: Mira Nair
The lowdown: Before it became the second Indian film to be nominated by the Academy, this Camera d’Or (Golden Camera) winning film bowled over critics as well as the public at Cannes.

'Piravi' (1989)
Piravi

Director: Shaji N. Karun
The lowdown: Just a year after Salaam Bombay! took the honours, this Malayalam feature film — it deals with rural and urban disparity — earned a special mention in the Camera d’Or category.

'Marana Simhasanam' (1999)
Director: Murali Nair
The lowdown: This Malayalam film threw light on the relationship between elections and idiocy in the country. It won the Camera d’Or — a feat yet to be repeated by an Indian film.

'The Lunchbox' (2013)
Nimrat Kaur in The 'Lunchbox'

Director: Ritesh Batra
The lowdown: Although it didn’t win a major award in the competition category at the 66th Cannes Film Festival, it bagged the Grand Rail d’Or.

Filmmakers speak out

Why aren’t we winning top honours lately?

Dibakar Banerjee, producer of Titli
Dibakar Banerjee
"I haven’t had the time to think about it. Maybe because it’s not an important issue."

Goutam Ghose, filmmaker
Goutam Ghose, filmmaker

"It’s unfortunate because our films haven’t really matched the standards set by the Cannes jury. Of late, there have been many interesting Indian films but the question has always been the same: How rooted to Indianness are they?"

Buddhadeb Dasgupta filmmaker
Buddhadeb Dasgupta filmmaker

"There is no dearth of good films in our country but how many make it to Cannes, or for that matter, other international festivals? Maybe the required channels for such films are missing and that should be our concern."

Govind Nihalani, filmmaker
Govind Nihalani, filmmaker

"To win an award at a film festival, your film should be in the competitive category. In the past few years, we’ve read about films travelling to Cannes, but I don’t think many were competing for awards. So winning anything big is out of the question."

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