India’s cinematic prowess continues to shine on the global stage as the Cannes International Film Festival 2023 unfolds its grandeur. With a rich tradition of sending remarkable movies that captivate audiences worldwide, India once again presents its extraordinary storytelling to be witnessed and celebrated at this prestigious event. Last year, India held the privilege of being the official Country of Honour, further solidifying its prominent position in the international film community.
Spanning over ten days from May 16 to May 27, the festival commenced with a dazzling display of Indian talent gracing the red carpet. Renowned celebrities including Esha Gupta, Guneet Monga (Oscar winner for Elephant Whisperers), Manushi Chhillar, Sara Ali Khan, Aishwarya Rai Bachchan and numerous others added glamour to the opening days. Leading the Indian delegation this year was L Murugan, the Minister of State for Information & Broadcasting.
Embracing a diverse range of genres and themes, four Indian films have secured coveted spots in the Cannes 2023 lineup, each competing in different categories. Let’s take a look at what these films are all about.
Anurag Kashyap is all set to present his latest masterpiece, Kennedy, a riveting police noir film at the Cannes Film Festival. This gripping tale, starring Rahul Bhat, Sunny Leone, and Abhilash Thapliyal, has found its place in the prestigious Midnight Screenings‘ section of the festival. At the heart of the movie lies the story of a former police officer, presumed deceased but driven by a relentless quest for redemption.
Agra goes to Cannes!— Kanu Behl (@KanuBehl) April 18, 2023
We would like to announce with pride that our film AGRA is all set to premiere at the prestigious Directors’ Fortnight at the Cannes Film Festival 2023.@mohitagarwal14 @aanchalgoswami55 @sonaljhaofficial @thevibha @officialrahulroy @priyankabose20pic.twitter.com/FyQKWQdErx
Kanu Behl’s Agra is set to make its highly-anticipated debut in the esteemed Director’s Fortnight Section at Cannes this year. This thought-provoking film delves into the intricate sexual dynamics within a family, while shedding light on the profound societal divides that have emerged in contemporary India due to the scarcity of physical space. Leading the cast is Rahul Roy, known for his notable role in the iconic film Aashiqui, accompanied by Priyanka Bose, Vibha Chibber, Sonal Jha, Aanchal Goswami, Ruhani Sharma, and Mohit Agarwal, among others.
Nehemich, the only Indian film competing in the La Cinef (short films) section of the Cannes International Film Festival, is a 23-minute Marathi film directed by Film and Television Institute of India Pune alumnus, Yudhajit Basu. Set against the backdrop of the pandemic, it explores the discrimination faced by menstruating women in remote areas, focusing on a young girl from a nomadic tribe who is banished from her village during her period. Shot in a village in Maharashtra’s Satara district, the film combines captivating cinematography by Rachit Pandey and a haunting music composition by Oded Tzur. Described by the artistic director of Cannes La Cinef as a “wonderfully directed film which is filled with the pure beauty of cinema,” Nehemich will be premiering at Cannes on May 24 in the Buñuel theatre.
Ishanou by Aribam Syam Sharma is a poignant tale of love and sorrow set in the backdrop of Manipuri culture. The movie portrays Tampha, a young woman who is married and has a young daughter. She leads a peaceful life in the serene valley of Manipur, focusing on her daily routines. However, her behaviour takes a peculiar turn as she starts conversing with flowers, experiencing dizziness, and wandering out of the house at night. In their quest for a cure, her devoted family realises that she is not sick but instead being called by a divine spirit. The film stars Anoubam Kiranmala, Kangabam Tomba, Baby Molly, Manbi, Soraisam Dhiren, and Baby Premita in prominent roles.
M. K. Binodini Devi is responsible for the story, screenplay, and costumes of Ishanou. Originally released in 1990, the film beautifully juxtaposes the mystical world of the Maibis with the ordinary rhythm of daily life, illustrating the coexistence of the supernatural and the tangible within the same reality. Accompanied by enchanting melodies of the Pena (a traditional string instrument), bamboo flute, and incantation hymns, the narrative unfolds. The director’s straightforward approach, delicate cinematography, and subtle performances, coupled with the vibrant depiction of Maibi culture and the incorporation of Manipur’s traditional music in the film’s score, contribute to its authentic blend of storytelling, documentary, and ethnography. As a result, Ishanou stands out as the sole Indian film this year to premiere in the Classics section, which pays tribute to restored versions of old movies.