India celebrated in Cannes as first ‘Country of Honour’ at the festival

The nation’s cinema will be honoured with a programme of screenings, premieres and red carpet events during the event

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Some of the biggest Indian stars will be making their way to La Croisette over the next few days as India celebrates being named the “Country of Honour” at the 2022 Cannes Film Market.

The market, the business counterpart of the Cannes Film Festival and one of the biggest of its kind in the world, opened on Wednesday and will welcome stars, producers, filmmakers and delegates from India to walk the red carpet and enjoy an array of screenings and first looks throughout the festival.

"I feel really proud to be here as an Indian and to be representing the country," said Deepika Padukone at the opening of the Indian pavilion. "But when we look back at 75 Years of Cannes, I have said earlier also that there have been only a handful of Indian films and Indian talent that have been able to make it and I feel like collectively as a nation today we have it."

Bollywood actress Padukone, who's been attending the festival for more than 10 years as a L'Oreal ambassador, serves for the first time as member of the jury this year.

The ceremony was attended by Oscar-winning composer AR Rahman, Oscar-nominated director Shekhar Kapur as well as actor R Madhavan, whose directorial debut Rocketry: The Nambi Effect, will have its world premiere at the festival.

World premiere of R Madhavan’s ‘Rocketry: The Nambi Effect’

“It is the first time the Marche du Film has an official Country of Honour, and this special focus will continue annually with different nations in the spotlight at future editions,” said Indian Information and Broadcasting Minister Anurag Thakur.

One of the highlights is the premiere of R Madhavan’s Rocketry: The Nambi Effect. The actor is in the titular role and directs the film, which is based on the life of Nambi Narayanan, a former scientist and aerospace engineer at the Indian Space Research Organisation, who was falsely accused of espionage.

Indian filmmakers will also be given a boost as the country was invited to pitch five films in the Goes to Cannes showcase. Baghjan by Jaicheng Zxai Dohutia, Bailadila from Shailendra Sahu, Ek Jagah Apni by Ektara Collective, Follower by Harshad Nalawade, and Shivamma by Jai Shankar were all chosen to be presented.

Big names and classic films

Director Shekhar Kapur, actor Nawazuddin Siddiqui, Indian minister Anurag Thakur, musician Prasoon Joshi, actor R Madhavan, politician Vani Tripathi and musician Ricky Kej on the opening night of the Cannes Film Festival. Getty Images

Big names in Bollywood will be on the famous red carpet. Actress Pooja Hegde attended the opening of the Marche du Film on Wednesday, and was later also seen on the red carpet for the screening of Top Gun: Maverick. Another festival favourite, Aishwarya Rai Bachchan, returned as a L'Oreal ambassador, and TV star Helly Shah was also spotted as a guest of L’Oreal, and to promote her debut film, Kaya Palat.

Grammy-winner Ricky Kej, and stars including Aditi Rao Hydari, Nawazuddin Siddiqui and Tamannaah Bhatia will also be in attendance. Akshay Kumar was supposed to be at the pavilion inauguration, but was forced to bow out after contracting Covid-19. He sent a tweet of support.

Marche du Film will also honour the centenary of filmmaker Satyajit Ray with a remastered screening of his classic Pratidwandi for the Cannes Classic section, Cinema de la plage.

“When you are a country of honour at the world’s largest film market, you are on the radar of the western world,” said Indian filmmaker Samir Sarkar. “As far as our creativity and international appeal goes, it’s time we nurture and support those filmmakers that can take Indian cinema into something more meaningful and successful for world audiences.”

Updated: May 19, 2022, 7:52 AM