Bollywood star Deepika Padukone on Wednesday (May 18) said she is grateful to be serving on the Cannes Film Festival jury panel but hopes for a time when India will be as prestigious a cinema centre as the city located on the French Riviera. The actress, who is a part of the eight-member Cannes Competition jury at the gala that opened May 17, said India needs to back homegrown talent with "conviction".
"We have a long way to go as a country. I feel really proud as an Indian to represent the country but when we look back at the 75 years of Cannes there are a handful of Indian films or actors or talent that has been able to make it. I feel collectively as a nation we have the talent, ability and we just need conviction. There will come a day, I truly believe, where India won't have to be at Cannes, Cannes will be in India," Padukone said following the inauguration ceremony of the India Pavilion here which was live streamed on PIB's official YouTube channel.
The India Pavilion was inaugurated on Wednesday at Cannes Film Market by Minister for I&B Minister Anurag Thakur in the presence of music maestro A R Rahman, filmmaker Shekhar Kapur, CBFC chief Prasoon Joshi, actors R Madhavan, Nawazuddin Siddiqui, Pooja Hegde, Tamannaah, Urvashi Rautela and folk singer Mame Khan among others. Also Read: Deepika Padukone is too hot to handle at Louis Vuitton Cruise Show; see her scintillating pics here
India, also the country of honour at the 2022 Marche du Film (Cannes Film Market), marks her 75th year as an independent nation.
Padukone said she was "proud" as an Indian as the 75th edition of Cannes Film Festival coincides with the 75th year of India's independence.
"I'm feeling proud because it's the 75th year of Cannes but it's also the 75 years of India and to have India as the spotlight country and to be part of the jury is something I never imagined and expected."
The star also credited Rahman and Kapur, who are part of the Indian government delegation to the festival, for bringing international recognition for India.
"I also truly believe that India is at the cusp of greatness. This is just the beginning. I want to thank people like Rahman sir, Shekhar sir. You all are really the ones who have put India on the map. It's because of your contribution over the years that has allowed people like us to be here today," she added.
Citing the coincidence of British filmmaker Richard Attenborough directing "Gandhi" and Kapur making a film series of Queen Elizabeth I, Rahman said he is "super inspired" to be in such august company.
The two-time Oscar winner, whose directorial debut "Le Musk" premiered at the Cannes Film Market's Cannes XR programme, said he made the multisensory virtual reality film in English as he wanted to break barriers.
"The reason why I did this film in English language was to see whether it's possible to break those boundaries, to set a new bar.
Even if it fails, it's fine," he added.
Agreeing with Padukone, Kapur said, "The next Cannes is in India. We are the land of stories. Earlier, we were dominated by the culture of the West. But now, the West is plateauing and the East is rising. Some culture, I'm not saying country, but one culture is going to pick up the predominant culture," the acclaimed filmmaker, also known for films such as "Masoom", "Mr India" and "The Bandit Queen", said.
Joshi, also a lyricist and poet, said the process of filmmaking should be simplified so that dreams of aspiring artistes living in small and remote towns of the country come true. "We talk about diversity. How will we achieve diversity unless there's empowerment? That's what we should try and achieve when you go back from here," he said.
Madhavan said he would "envy" actors whose films used to premiere at the festival and now that his directorial debut "Rocketry: The Nambi Effect" is set to have its world premiere at the Cannes Film Market on Thursday, he was nervous.
"But here I am today as an actor, director, writer and a producer with my debut and I cannot begin to explain the amount of nervousness I feel," the actor-filmmaker said.
Siddiqui, star of "Gangs of Wasseypur" films and Netflix series "Sacred Games", urged the government to extend support to "stories that are local but can work at the global level". Cannes 2022: Deepika Padukone looks divine in Sabyasachi couture saree at red carpet, see pics
"There have been many instances when such films did well and received awards at film festivals like Cannes, but faced difficulties at the time of release back home. This pains me a lot because these kinds of films receive very little support. So I hope the government will extend support to these films also," he added.
Tamannaah likened getting the opportunity to attend the film gala as "beautiful" as her record-breaking film "Baahubali".
"Some of the most beautiful opportunities in my life have come to me when I've not been prepared for it, be it a film like Baahubali, which changed the way cinema is viewed in India today and opened windows for pan India firms. Being here at Cannes, it feels like exactly the same opportunity," she said.
The delegation also launched the poster for the 53rd edition of the International Film Festival of India (IFFI) at the India Pavilion.
Delhi-based filmmaker Shaunak Sen’s documentary “All That Breathes” and Pratham Khurana’s short film in Le Cinef (a competition for film schools) are India’s only cinematic representation at the main festival.
Sen’s Sundance World Cinema Grand Jury Prize-winning documentary premieres in the ‘Special Screening’ segment of the gala. The Cannes Film Festival will conclude on May 28.