Is Aishwarya Rai all you can think of when you hear “Cannes?” There’s so much more to the Cannes Film Festival - one of the biggest events in the film world, drawing in celebrities, filmmakers, and film lovers from across the globe. India has had a significant presence at Cannes, with many talented filmmakers showcasing their works on the world stage and earning critical acclaim. And of course there have been some stunning red carpet appearances. Here are the best Cannes Film Festival moments from India over the years:
Neecha Nagar was released in India in 1945, and shown at the Cannes Film Festival a year later. The tale of poverty and prejudice between two social classes of India struck an emotional chord with viewers around the world. Much to everyone's surprise, Neecha Nagar won the prestigious Palme d’Or, the festival’s highest honour. It became the first Indian film ever to do so.
Bimal Roy's Do Bigha Zamin received similar admiration from worldwide audiences when it screened at Cannes in 1952. The three-act story, which showcases one farmer's individual struggle against poverty, captured the attention of many viewers outside of India. The film went on to win several awards and accolades including the International Prize at Cannes Film Festival that year.
In 1955, Satyajit Ray's debut film Pather Panchali premiered at Cannes and won the Palme d'Or. This marked a significant moment not only for Indian cinema but for world cinema as well, as it brought attention to the rich and diverse stories coming out of the country.
In 2003, Aishwarya Rai Bachchan made history by becoming the first Indian actress to be on the Cannes jury. She later went on to serve on the jury again in 2004 and 2010. Her presence on the jury brought attention to Indian cinema, as well as to her own talents as an actress.
In 2001, Ashutosh Gowariker's epic film Lagaan premiered at Cannes, and the red carpet was rolled out for the cast and crew. The film was a period drama set in colonial India and centred around a group of villagers challenging their British rulers to a game of cricket as a way to avoid paying high taxes. This marked a significant moment for Indian cinema, as Lagaan was a critical and commercial success and brought international attention to Indian film.
In 2018, Nawazuddin Siddiqui played Manto in Nandita Das's film (of the same name) that premiered at Cannes, and the actor received a standing ovation for his portrayal of the iconic writer. This was a significant moment for Siddiqui, as it brought attention to his acting talents.