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We are not cutting edge

We walk in Cannes but we can’t take our films there. We are not invited to. Bollywood is often laughed at as exotic cinema from another planet.

In the middle of all the red carpet walking, one film pushed the Cannes envelope and was chosen as a competition movie last year in the Un Certain Regard section. Vikramaditya Motwane, who made India proud in 2010 with Udaan, didn’t travel to Cannes this year because he had a screening at Sundance in the US. He spoke to t2 from the United States on why it is important for our films to make it to major film festivals and how that Cannes stamp has enabled him to be on the road with Udaan for one whole year. Over to Vikram…

Wouldn’t you have loved to go back this year to Cannes?

Oh, I would have loved to. Wish I could go there. I missed it so much. But I couldn’t have gone because I had this special screening of Udaan at the Sundance Institute. Last year was so hectic that I couldn’t enjoy the festival at all. There were so many screenings and there were interviews and press conferences. The next time I am in Cannes, I would just like to enjoy myself and watch a bunch of films.

What was your initial reaction when you got the news that Udaan had made it to Cannes, that too in competition?

I couldn’t believe it initially! Then the excitement crept in. Come on, it’s Cannes! And then the other feeling which took over was one of panic. Our film wasn’t complete yet… we had just sent a very rough cut to Cannes for the selection. So, I immediately started worrying whether I would be able to finish the film in time.

Now that I look back, I don’t think I ever took out time to enjoy the fact that my first film was selected for the greatest film festival in the world.

What do you think worked in favour of Udaan because our films never get a look-in in Cannes?

Just the fact that I had something to say and I had my own way of saying it and it didn’t seem that it was coming from some factory. That’s probably what worked in favour of Udaan. They thought it had an original voice from India and the voice had something to say. In fact, that’s the whole criterion of the Un Certain Regard section. It looks for a point of view and a definite vision. That must have been it.

Zoya Akhtar said that directors in Bollywood don’t make films for festivals like Cannes and Karan Johar says that you can’t tailor-make a film for a festival. What’s your take?

Yes and no. Cannes is a kind of place where you have serious voices and serious people who make cutting-edge films. And then you also have the big films from Hollywood. We make neither. We are not cutting edge.

We used to be but have softened up over the years. Once upon a time Bimal Roy, Chetan Anand, Satyajit Ray, Ritwik Ghatak were cutting edge. Their cinema could stand up anywhere in the world and that’s why their films made it to the biggest festivals on a regular basis. We dropped off because I think we stopped being cutting edge. That’s sad because we have such great serious filmmakers.

Maybe we are taking a step back in the right direction. I think makers are also realising what an important festival can do to your film. Look at what the Cannes selection did for my film. It’s been tremendous. Many festivals picked my film because it made it to Cannes. The fact that I am here in D.C. and showing at the Sundance Institute is because of the Cannes selection. Udaan is one of 10 films in the world to be shown here. The kind of positive word-of-mouth the film received at Cannes last year… these are things that money can’t buy. It’s of value you can’t even equate with money.

What do you make of all these actresses and even some actors and directors walking the red carpet in Cannes just like that, without any film to show?

No, no we should all walk the red carpet! It’s fun, no? (Laughs out loud.)

Would you ideally like to now dive into your second film (a remake of the Tamil film Kaadhal) after travelling for so long with your first film?

Oh, I really want to. Have been wanting to do that for some time now. But it’s also important that I carry on this process of travelling with my film. Because every audience that is there for this film, will be there for the next film. It’s all about long term. You want these guys to come back and watch my second film. This is really the fag end of the travel, though. Now I should start my second.

Which recent Indian films do you think should go for film festivals? Tell t2@abp.in

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