I’m afraid I will never understand what the Indian media makes of Cannes. It’s like they’re so enthralled by all the pretty people in all their pretty finery parading up and down the red carpet, that it’s completely slipped their attention that its a film festival comprised of the biggest movie snobs in the world. Yes, it’s full of Eurotrash and movie stars and glitzy parties on yachts but that’s merely the sideshow. The real business is all about the movies.
This is a crowd where even critics’ darlings like the Coen brothers slink out of the hall after gauging the mood in the theatre because when a movie gets booed in Cannes, it’s basically the creme de la creme of the international film community telling you you suck. And nobody wants to hear that.
Which is why I thoroughly enjoyed hearing, back in 2002, that Sanjay Leela Bhansali had taken his Devdas to screen in Cannes. The last time Indian cinema had been this welcome at Cannes had been in the 1950s – now Bhansali was taking his version of the 50s to the Cannes. I cannot begin to tell you how much I enjoyed imagining the baffled faces of the international critics as Shahrukh Khan and Aishwarya Rai made their stilted, hammy way through the bloated script, drenched in what must have looked like bordello colors to the Europeans. Richard Corliss, one of the rare international reviewers who liked it, has said before that he was pretty much the only person left in the hall once the movie shuddered its way to a stop.
I love it when people raise a giant fuck you to the establishment. And in Devdas‘ case, I don’t think Bhansali even knew that was what he was doing. Icing on the cake.
Anyway, Devdas‘ drunken debut onto the world stage heralded another, more significant event – the emergence of Aishwarya Rai as a Cannes regular.
It’s rather unclear what she does in Cannes – I believe the French would sooner slather their crackers with Kraft cheese than screen the likes of Steve Martin’s Pink Panther, one of her upcoming movies, at Cannes – other than look pretty for L’Oreal but thank God she does that because otherwise the Indian media might have been forced to talk about the movies instead and that’s always a disaster.
So here you have it – Aishwarya Rai gilding the lily in everything from a parrot green Neeta Lulla outfit to a silvery off the rack (oh, the ignominy!) Armani. One ton of paint on her face and Jaya Bachchan dressed like a she-leprechaun lurking the background with trusty sidekick Amar Singh, and she still looks better than you, doesn’t she? Them’s the breaks, cupcake.
*click to enlarge image*