'The Shameless' actor Mita Vashisht: Cannes isn’t a place to boast about collections

20 May,2024 06:32 AM IST |  Mumbai  |  Priyanka Sharma

Asserting that creativity is the only virtue at the film festival, The Shameless actor Mita Vashisht celebrates desi offerings being showcased abroad

A still from The Shameless; Vashisht at the festival along with director Konstantin Bojanov

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Seated in a packed auditorium where cine-watchers turn up to watch her film, Mita Vashisht is evidently celebrating a milestone in her career - her offering, The Shameless, is competing at the coveted 77th Cannes Film Festival. This opportunity, however, may have well evaded the actor, who was a "last-minute addition" to the cast of the film based on two young women hoping to free themselves from the shackles of sex work.

"Whatever is meant for you, will find you," says Vashisht, who plays the matriarch in the poignant drama, directed by Bulgarian filmmaker Konstantin Bojanov. "I came on board two days before the shoot began because the director wasn't satisfied with the casting for the character that I eventually played. When my name was recommended, we connected over a Zoom call, and he said I had a strong identity and would hence be apt for the role. I was told that while not a lengthy one, the role was critical."

Ironically, Vashisht was initially unimpressed with Bojanov's script. Addressing questions about her decision to initially turn down the role, she says, "I told him
that whatever he said about the role was in his vision alone, and was not reflected in the script. He was taken aback. I said, sir, first of all, you haven't named the character. You have only addressed her as ‘the grandmother'.

Until you give her a name, how do I know what kind of woman she is? He said, ‘This is exactly the kind of input I was looking for. We will rewrite the portions and connect them to the rest of the characters.'" Vashisht was finally on board.

The offering, also starring Anasuya Sengupta and Omara Shetty, received a standing ovation at its Cannes premiere. It is one of the many reasons for celebration, as several Indian offerings, including Payal Kapadia's All We Imagine As Light, and Shyam Benegal's 1969 drama Manthan, are being featured at the festival. Vashisht says she is hopeful that impactful narratives will finally receive their due. "The Cannes Film Festival is not a place where you can [boast] about your project's box-office collections. Here, the value is only in the craft and vision. It's reassuring to know that we have so many Indian films here, because it implies that Indians are making films that do not only cater to box-office demands."

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