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Monaco cool over Princess Grace film

Monaco, May 13: The Cannes Film Festival opens tomorrow with a controversial film, Grace of Monaco, that has an Indian link — Yashraj Films has invested money in the much anticipated movie.

It tells the story of the Hollywood star, Grace Kelly, who married a prince, came to Monaco and didn’t quite fit in. Perhaps one day there will be a similar film about Sonia Gandhi, Indians in Cannes speculate.

The Hollywood actress is portrayed by Nicole Kidman, arguably the Grace Kelly of modern times.

Monaco itself and its royal family have distanced themselves from the film.

In fact, in Monaco itself, an hour away by train from Cannes, there is greater excitement for the Formula 1 Grand Prix de Monaco which will be held on May 25 (Lakshmi Mittal is a frequent visitor).

Still, Princess Grace, who was married to Prince Rainier from 1956 to 1982 when her car plunged off a cliff, isn’t completely forgotten. There is an elegant black and white photograph of her and her husband on their wedding day by the roadside on the approach to the Palace.

This isn’t Buckingham Palace but still there was a respectable crowd of Japanese women gathered front of the gates. The palace is built on a rock with a commanding view of the marina and the high apartments cut into the hill side. The principality is considered the mother of all tax havens for the very rich.

The royal family is conscious of decorum. A notice warns tourists: “Apart from the immediate vicinity of the beaches it is forbidden to walk around bare chested; wearing a swimming costume; barefoot. “Failure to comply with these regulations could result in prosecution.” This would be under “By law 4/VII/1940”.

There is no by law though to protect the royal family against filmmakers. The movie is based loosely on Grace Kelly’s crisis of marriage and identity during a political dispute between Monaco’s Prince Rainier III and France’s Charles De Gaulle, and a looming French invasion of Monaco in the early 1960s.

The film alleges that although Alfred Hitchcock wanted his favourite actress to carry on with her movie career after marriage, Rainier did not think it was seemly for a princess, even one by marriage, to act in movies.

Nicole Kidman has said she understands why the children of Grace Kelly are upset. She told the Daily Mail that Grace of Monaco, which has drawn criticism from the late star’s son and two daughters, was not intended to be a biopic.

“I know they’re upset. I would be, too, if it were my mother,” she said. “It’s a child job to protect their parent. In that regard, I get it. I get why the children are upset. I can’t say much other than that I have great respect and regard for their mother.

“It’s not meant to be a biopic. I certainly did my best to honour everything that was real and truthful in it.” She admitted: “There’s a fairy-tale aspect to it, which is why it isn’t a biopic.”

She added: “There’s an idiosyncratic French feel imprinted on it. I wanted there to be a living, breathing, human being; not just a cut-out figure.”

Prince Albert, the current reigning monarch in Monaco, and his sisters, Princesses Caroline and Stephanie, have labelled Olivier Dahan’s film a “pointlessly glamourised” and inaccurate work of “pure fiction”.

Avtar Panesar, vice-president of Yashraj Films, is coming to Cannes to promote the movie and will provide details of the film’s release in India.

 
 
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