Being a member of the Cannes Film Festival jury is a personal triumph but also a victory for the South Asian community and a recognition for India and its values, says Deepika Padukone, the first Indian since Vidya Balan in 2013 to be chosen for the honour. Padukone, part of the eight-member Cannes Competition jury at the festival that runs from May 17 to 28, is also hoping the discussion in the media this time will be more about the celebration of Indian talent and cinema and less on fashion.
Balan’s fashion choices had come under intense scrutiny when she was part of the jury, which will reward one of the 21 films in competition with the Palme d’Or during the closing ceremony of the festival. “I hope we realise that there is so much more. Of course, fashion is fun, it should be fun. And it’s also a very personal thing. But I hope that Indian media has learned from that last experience and realises that we have the power to actually change that narrative and talk about what a big moment this is for India,” Padukone said.
As part of the eight member jury, Padukone, best known for her films “Piku”, “Padmaavat” and “Gehraiyaan”, will help in selecting the winner for the coveted Palme d’Or during the closing ceremony on May 28. Those from India who have been a part of Cannes jury include the late Mrinal Sen (1982), director Mira Nair (1990), author Arundhati Roy (2000), Aishwarya Rai Bachchan (2003), Nandita Das (2005), Sharmila Tagore (2009), Shekhar Kapur (2010) and Vidya Balan (2013).
Delhi-based filmmaker Shaunak Sen’s documentary All That Breathes and Pratham Khurana’s short film in Le Cinef (a competition for film schools) are India’s only cinematic representation at the main festival. Sen’s Sundance World Cinema Grand Jury Prize-winning documentary premieres in the Special Screening’ segment of the gala. India is also the official country of honour at the Marche du Cannes (Cannes Film Market). Besides, the festival will showcase a restored version of Satyajit Ray’s Pratidwandi.