Kryztoff de Breza in Cannes
Ash woos Europe
Devdas gets raves
It is not just the Indian media that has gone beserk over Sanjay Leela Bhansali's film Devdas, the first Indian masala film to be screened at the Cannes Film Festival.
The film glossies, including Screen International and Film Francaise went to town about Devdas and even featured a picture of Aishwarya Rai as Paro on the cover.
For mainstream dailies like Le Figaro and Le Monde, the selection of Devdas was an eye-opener to the Indian film industry.
The western press was taken up with the beauty of the film. Its lavish sets, period costumes, semi-classical dances and the general ambiance of the film. "Sumptuous sets, rustle of silk saris of the colours of the period, unreal beauty of the heroines whose falling tears have the shine
of diamonds," is how Le Figaro's Emmanuele Frois opened her piece on Devdas.
For Screen International, the several stills of the film, reflecting all of the above elements, were a godsend gift and they used the pictures to the maximum, with several pages of the magazine devoted to Devdas.
Using the film and its screening as a platform for their articles, the European journalists wrote about the strength of the Indian film industry, which was as new to many of the journalists as to their readers. Le Monde, for instance, talks about the position Indian film industry, with its economic and social clout in the country and the availability of the latest hi-tech equipment available in the Indian film studios.
Le Figaro says that the Indian film industry is clearly a unique case which is not threatened by the domination of Hollywood. "With more than 900 films a year and three billion devoted viewers, the Indian film industry is first of all an extravagant proliferation. And Bombay, for years, is a city where day and night, they churn out the best and the worst," says a report in Le Figaro.
The coverage was not limited to the written press. TF1, one of the biggest French television stations, had special reports on the Indian cinema and showed several excerpts from Devdas in its prime time news during the week of the Cannes festival.
Though Devdas may have been eye opener for the western press at Cannes, clearly the focus of the coverage and star attraction for the media here was Aishwarya Rai, the Paro of the film. "She is beautiful and sublime," one press review described her. Even while the Devdas team was performing the famous 'Monter des Marches', it was Aishwarya that the cameras were tracking. Miss World 1994 definitely won another crown at the Cannes and has a new set of devoted followers in some European journalists.
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