Fast Tango in Paris


Fast Tango in Paris

New Delhi : A ‘Fare Well at Cannes’ party hosted by L’Oreal Paris, Chivas and Seagram is a marketing opportunity lost. It could have been a Mumbai-Delhi event, orchestrated by PR dons; raking in page 3 scribes and celebrity photographers. Verbal volleyball at the event between lensmen and celebs–“Saif, Saif, here, look here,” or “Hi, Sonam, hello, one picture, hello…”; “Minissha, side photo please,”―would have given us our obligatory ‘entertaining’ pictures to beam the next day. Everybody would have looked pretty with L’Oreal sponsoring hair and makeup. And booze, as is now customary in glitzy gatherings, would have been free. The event could have been called Free and Fair at Cannes.

It is not topical satire. As a parade of global celebrities descend upon the French Riviera for the 64th edition of the Cannes Film festival, spare a thought for the India cast. It is a long list adding up to an interesting mix of talents. Aishwarya Rai Bachchan, a Cannes veteran walked the red carpet for the 10th year in a row. And well, what would happen to our annual Aishwarya bashing if she didn’t? She may be India’s most known export and this time director Madhur Bhandarkar and producer Ronnie Screwvalla will even announce their new film Heroine with her, but all we are interested in is what she wore. Her talent is To B and What Not To Wear (we miss you Abhishek, you suit her better than Jimmy Choo clutches).

Freida Pinto and Sonam Kapoor will be there too but all at different events to avoid head-on diva collision. The former strategized her move to Hollywood like a sassy publicist after Slumdog Millionaire’s success. So she represents Unexpected Indian Success. Don’t expect her to wear a Tarun Tahiliani but she will do well in a Lanvin or a Dior and wave like most former models do, when they kiss away less-profitable, ex lives away with pretty hands. Sonam, on the other hand is our only original celebrity clothes horse. To be fair, she gave a very smart answer to The Indian Express two days back. “Indian celebs are at an advantage because they can carry off both Indian and international garments,” she said. So, she will represent Indian Fashion Diplomacy.

That’s not all. Minissha Lamba who “descended” yesterday (why do celebs descend?) has been sponsored by Seagram. She represented India’s Look Sexy, Smile and Shut-up Brigade, a talent Bollywood has nurtured in its actresses for years but is only now willing to wear on its sleeve. Then there is Saif Ali Khan who will wear Tom Ford. Talent ? “Long, strong and reliable,” as

he said of himself on Koffee With Karan. Considering he represents Chivas, a booze brand, it’s quite apt.

The rest of the cast includes Shekhar Kapur accompanied by Rakeysh Om Prakash Mehra whose documentary Bollywood: The Greatest Love Story Ever Told will be screened. Talent? New, Cinematic Thought on Commercially Nonviable Documentaries. That leaves us (whew!) with Sabyasachi who we are told will walk the red carpet alone now that his consort Rani Mukherji’s father has taken ill. Nailing down Sabyasachi’s talent at Cannes is dicey. Bengali Unfashion perhaps?

That leaves us with cherry of the India at Cannes cake. She is the confoundingly successful star of fame management: Ms Mallika Sherawat. Last year it was easy writing about her as it meant a series of chiding clichés.

This year, let’s doff our hats. She is the lady out there in Obama’s court and everywhere else. What and how she wears, who will wear her on his arm, who sponsors, invites and welcomes her is more than a tabloid story.

Add all this up and it reveals why India is increasingly important at Cannes. Glamorous divas who can give Eva Longoria and Penelope Cruz a run for their couture; popular Indian actors―count Saif in–sponsored by powerful global brands; a designer who represents the authentic warp and weft of Indian craft and Mallika Sherawat whose brand is work in progress that we may some day be triumphant about.

It is a different contention that a 90-minute Bengali film, Chatrak (Mushrooms), set in Kolkata made by Vimukthi Jayasundra a Sri Lankan director is India’s only official entry at Cannes. This too will be screened in the Director’s Fortnight as part of the non-competition section.

To applaud with ease, we must accept that India’s contribution to Cannes in the last couple of years has not been cinema. It is nothing to be sheepish about. All film festivals need smaller planets of glamour and glory to tango around their flaming cinematic core. India now is one such planet.