India doesn't support 'Cannes kind' of cinema, says Anurag Kashyap

10 June,2024 02:28 PM IST |  Mumbai  |  PTI

India won an unprecedented three awards at the 77th edition of the Cannes Film Festival last month -- Payal Kapadia became the first ever director from India to win the Grand Prix for her movie

Anurag Kashyap. Pic/Yogen Shah

India didn't have any moment at Cannes, says filmmaker Anurag Kashyap, stressing that the victory of independent filmmakers at the European gala is theirs alone and the country doesn't support that kind of award-winning cinema.

India won an unprecedented three awards at the 77th edition of the Cannes Film Festival last month -- Payal Kapadia became the first ever director from India to win the Grand Prix for her movie "All We Imagine As Light", Anasuya Sengupta was awarded best actress in the Un Certain Regard strand for "The Shameless", and FTII student Chidananda S. Naik earned the best short film award at the La Cinef section for "Sunflowers Were the First Ones to Know".

"I get very upset when it's said 'India@Cannes'. This is a boost" a shot in the arm for a lot of independent filmmakers but their victory is their own," Kashyap told PTI in an interview here.

"India didn't have any moment at Cannes, not a single of those films are Indian. We need to address it the way it should be addressed. India has stopped supporting such cinema, the kind of cinema that was at Cannes," he said. He said Kapadia's "All We Imagine as Light", which was also the first film from India in 30 years to feature in the main competition at Cannes known for giving a platform to new voices, received funding from a French company. The Malayalam-Hindi feature, which earned the second-highest award at Cannes after Palme d'Or, is an Indo-French co-production between Petit Chaos from France and Chalk and Cheese Films from India. There were several films at Cannes with either India-set stories or Indian talent at the helm, but most were co-productions with banners from other countries. Indian-British filmmaker Sandhya Suri's "Santosh" and Karan Kandhari's "Sister Midnight" were funded by the UK, while Konstantin Bojanov's "The Shameless" was almost self-funded.

However, Chidanand's "Sunflowers..." is a production of the TV Wing One-year programme under the Film and Television Institute of India (FTII). "India just likes to take credit for a lot of things, they do not support these films, and they don't even support these films to have a release in cinema," Kashyap said.

In 2021, Kapadia had won an award at Cannes for the documentary "A Night of Knowing Nothing" but that is yet to be released in India. "Stop taking credit for it. Let's stop this fake celebration... Even if the film is released, no one will go to watch it in the theatre," the 51-year-old said. He also cited the example of Shaunak Sen's documentary "All that Breathes", which won the Golden Eye award at Cannes 2022, that didn't release on Indian screens and went straight to a streamer. Then there were independent films such as "Jaggi" and "Pokhar Ke Dunu Paar" that won awards at festivals that will eventually find home in streamers. Kashyap was also critical of the spotlight on influencers on the famed red carpet.

"This obsession India has with Cannes... More than Cannes, it's about the red carpet. That's on another level. I get more angry when I hear these things... Geetanjali Rao got three awards at Cannes (for 'Printed Rainbow') in 2003, I wrote an article on it, but it was not recognised, rarely anyone wrote about that here. There's no support system here."

Days after her win, Kapadia, also an FTII graduate, penned an open letter in which she pushed for a government fund for women filmmakers and under-represented sections to foster independent filmmaking while praising the Kerala government for starting a similar initiative.

Kashyap, whose films such as "Gangs of Wasseypur", "Ugly", and "Kennedy" have screened at Cannes over the years across sections like Director's Fortnight and Midnight Screenings, said he was also surprised when former FTII chairperson Gajendra Chauhan took credit for Kapadia's win. Back in 2015, Kapadia was one of the students who protested against the appointment of "Mahabharat" actor-BJP politician Chauhan as FTII head. Kapadia was among the 35 students charged under various Indian Penal Code sections for offences related to unlawful assembly, criminal intimidation, and rioting. The chargesheet was filed in 2016, and the next court hearing is scheduled for June 26, according to the defence lawyer representing the students.

"The worst part is that the man who put the case against her, and sent some students to jail, is the first man who took the credit for her and said, 'I'm proud that I was the FTII (chairperson)'. What is his name? Yudhishthir ji (his 'Mahabharat' role), Gajendra Chauhan said, 'I'm so proud that she was the student when I was the head'. You are the one who put the case against her," Kashyap added. The director, who will be seen in an acting role in the web series "Bad Cop", said the Indian film business focuses primarily on producing blockbuster hits. "We have made many independent films, I've seen how much support they get and don't get. At the end of the day, in India everyone is here to do business. No one wants to do good work, everyone wants to do hit work (success)" he said.

Asked about critically acclaimed smaller films like "Joram" and "All India Rank" not being marketed well to reach the audiences, Kashyap said such movies can't match up to the marketing of a big film. "The pressure is on a small film too; they can't spend much on the visibility of the film. To make a small film visible around big films is very difficult. Besides those films are unable to make the recovery, you don't get good show timings, as good show timings are covered by big films," he said, lauding the South movie industry for fixing marketing and ticket pricing for both big-budget and small movies. Directed by Aditya Datt, "Bad Cop" stars Gulshan Devaiah as Karan, a fierce cop, trying to chase down Kazbe (Kashyap), a villain more powerful and deadly than him and simultaneously managing his personal relationships. The action-drama series will premiere on Disney+ Hotstar on June 21.

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