Up until the very evening of May 24, the focus was on Aishwarya’s red carpet evolution, Sonam Kapoor’s electric blue gown and why Katrina Kaif chose to wear the exact shade of the red carpet at the 2015 Cannes Film Festival. Then, it was a surprise of surprises, that the French director Jaques Audiard’s daring Tamil-French-English drama Dheepan won the Palme d’Or beating the likes of Hou Hsiao-Hsien, Nanni Moretti, Sorrentino and Todd Haynes. Even more of a surprise is the fact that the film is on the lives of former Tamil Tiger soldiers in France — a situation that is as geographically relevant to the south of India as it is politically combustible. While the film pushes the global focus on south India like never before, Bengaluru gets ready for one of the quietest wins in Cannes and a showing of the film that is being planned soon.
While international critics have called the film gritty and naturalistic, few took note of the powerhouse actors Antonythasan Jesuthasan, Kalieaswari Srinivasan and nine-year-old Claudine Vinasithamby until the film won. Samarpita Samaddar, who is responsible for unfurling new avenues for artistes through her position India Foundation of the Arts, says, “For a long time, our stance to arts and especially cinema has been to either ban something or boycott it. There is an indirectness in Dheepan that makes it possible for the west to publicise it post its win. But because its subject matter is not glamorous enough (like Sea of Trees or Carol, say) it is widely ignored in India.”
Filmmaker Gagan Bhandar is trying to organise a screening of the film in the city. “The one reason that local films dealing with the Sri Lankan issue have received so little popularity but a French director’s effort is so heartily lauded is because we are inundated with content. And usually, there is very little quality in the content. Even in the niche audience of these films, there is a distinct demand for European cinema because Europe still deals with the universal — something our local filmmakers do not,” says Gagan.
While fashion police has only begun to take notice of the ‘saree appearance’ of Srinivasan, fashion student Denise M points out how this too is very late. “I wonder if we would ever have noticed a blue silk on the red carpet had it not been for the win. Ethan and Joel Coen can be the ones giving away the awards, but in India, if you are not a L’oreal women, chances are nothing can get you spotted at the red carpet,” says Denise....