India At Cannes: Celebrating The Country’s Journey At The Illustrious Film Festival On Its 77th Edition

Cannes India

Starting tomorrow, the Cannes Film Festival will be hosting its 77th edition, showcasing a broad selection of feature films, documentaries, and short films from all genres and nations. Over the years from 1946 till today, India has left a great impact on the festival’s history, from Chetan Anand winning the Grand Prix du Festival International du Film to Satyajit Ray taking home the Best Human Document Award. To maintain this streak this year, we have seven Indian films taking centre stage at the Cannes Film Festival, titled All We Imagine As Light by Payal Kapadia, which is nominated for the Palme d’Or, Santosh by Sandhya Suri, and more.

As the festival starts opening its curtain, here’s a look back at some of the notable Indian wins from the past:

Grand Prix du Festival International du Film: Neecha Nagar by Chetan Anand (1946)

Neecha Nagar, directed by Chetan Anand was the first and only Indian film to win the Grand Prix du Festival International du Film, or Palme d’Or, an accolade regarded as one of the highest in the film industry.

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International Prize: Do Bigha Zamin by Bimal Roy (1954)

Do Bigha Zameen, directed by Bimal Roy, became a cult classic in its early years of release. The film depicted the story of a poor farmer who was forced to work as a rickshawala in Kolkata in order to protect his village land from an industrialist. The movie won accolades all around the world and went on to become the first Indian movie to win the International Prize.

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Special Mention – Child Artist: Baby Naaz (1955)

Young actor Naaz took home the Special Distinction Prize for her remarkable performance in Boot Polish. The film, which had Raj Kapoor as producer and Prakash Arora as director, told the tale of two abandoned children who, after their mother dies, are made to beg on the streets of Mumbai by their aunt.

Best Human Document Award: Pathar Panchali by Satyajit Ray (1956)

It was the first feature film directed by Satyajit Ray, which took home the coveted Palm d’Or for outstanding Human Document. The movie tells the tale of a small child named Apu and his older sister Durga growing up in an impoverished family in the harsh countryside. The movie is still regarded as one of Indian cinema’s masterpieces.

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Special Mention (Short Film): Rajbans Khanna for Gotoma the Buddha (1957)

Filmmaker Rajbans Khanna took home the Best Director prize at the 10th Cannes Film Festival in 1957 with his movie Gotama the Buddha. The movie was made in honour of the 2500th anniversary of Gautam Buddha’s birth, at the suggestion of Jawaharlal Nehru, who was prime minister at the time and had asked Khanna to create a film on the Buddha’s life and teachings.

Jury Prize: Kharij by Mrinal Sen (1983)

Mrinal Sen’s Bengali film took home the Special Jury Prize. Kharij starred Anjan Dutta and Mamata Shankar in the major roles and told the tale of a middle-class family’s attempts to console their bereaved father when their kid servant Palan is discovered dead in their kitchen. The family now has to confront their inner demons after being found guilty of both failing him and the police investigations.

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Caméra d’Or: Salaam Bombay! by Mira Nair (1988)

Mira Nair bagged the Camera d’Or for her film about Bombay’s darkness. The film portrays the tale of a ragpicker and a prostitute from a brothel who form an odd friendship with one another. It was set in the alleyways of Bombay, which is now Mumbai.

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Caméra d’Or: Marana Simhasanam by Murali Nair (1999)

The renowned Camera d’Or was awarded to this Malayalam film, directed by Mirali Narayan. In this chilling picture of class division, a farmer is falsely accused of a murder he did not commit, imprisoned, and given the first-ever electrocution sentence in his state.

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Grand Rail d’Or Audience Award: The Lunchbox by Ritesh Batra (2013)

The unique love story of a lonely bachelor and an equally lonely and distressed housewife, presented by Ritesh Batra, captured viewers’ emotions. The film starring Nimrat Kaur and Irrfan Khan took home the Critics Week Viewers Choice Award.

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FIPRESCI Prize and Un Certain Regard Prize: Masaan by Neeraj Ghaywan (2015)

Richa Chadha, Vicky Kaushal and Shweta Tripathi starred in this melancholic yet exquisite film, which took home two awards at the Cannes festival: the Promising Future in the Un Certain Regard area and the FIPRESCI, the International Jury of Film Critics Award. The movie tells a narrative of modernisation in a traditional society, caste systems and social pressures in a tiny Indian hamlet.

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Golden Eye: A Night of Knowing Nothing by Payal Kapadia (2021)

At Cannes 2021, Payal Kapadia’s documentary took home the Oeil d’Or for Best Documentary. A film school student sends letters to her estranged girlfriend, who has been expelled from college and whose family does not want him to be with her since she is from a lower caste, in Kapadia’s film, which provides insight into student life in Indian universities.

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Golden Eye: All That Breathes by Shaunak Sen (2022)

Shaunak Sen’s documentary All That Breathes takes home the top award at the Cannes Film Festival. The documentary, which was the lone entry from India to Cannes, made the country proud by taking home the coveted prize. Mohammad Saud and Nadeem Shehzad, siblings who dedicate their lives to rescuing and rehabilitating wounded birds—particularly the Black Kite—are the subjects of the documentary.

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Also, read: Here’s Why Aishwarya Rai Bachchan Is The Undisputed Fashion MVP At The Cannes Film Festival

- Digital Writer


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