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15 years after Devdas, Aishwarya relives her Cannes debut

By Rediff Entertainment Bureau
Last updated on: May 22, 2017 08:21 IST
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Devdas, which premiered at Cannes in 2002, was screened at the film festival once again -- this time with a special introduction by its star Aishwarya Rai Bachchan.

IMAGE: Aishwarya Rai Bachchan introduces Devdas before it's screening at the Cannes Film Festival, May 20, 2017. Photograph: Kind courtesy L'Oreal Paris India/Facebook

Filmmaker Sanjay Leela Bhansali's Devdas served as a special milestone in Aishwarya Rai Bachchan's career.

It was the film's premiere in 2002 that marked her debut at the Cannes Film Festival.

It also set the stage for her 16 back-to-back appearances -- as member of the jury, member of a cast and as a L'Oreal Ambassador -- at the revered event.

'We attended the festival not just as artists but as proud representatives of Indian cinema, showcasing a film that meant so much to us,' Aishwarya told the media back then.

'The kind of reception we got for the movie was truly overwhelming and I will cherish it all my life.'

Last evening, May 20, the Bollywood star relived all those early memories.

Devdas was screened at the festival once again as part of L'Oreal's celebration of 20 years of its association with Cannes.

'Thank you all for coming, and thank you for all your good wishes and love... That's what makes us do what we do, with such commitment and pleasure,' Aishwarya said, introducing the film before the screening. 'Our craft is something that we enjoy but an actor can experience fulfillment with the craft through an audience and that's what you give to us... It means the world  to us as actors.'

Devdas, she said, was a very special film for her.

'When I came to the Cannes film festival (in 2002), it had the most overwhelming response to our work in the film,' she said. 'We were actually welcomed in a horse-drawn carriage at the red carpet. It was such a privilege because it was the first time an Indian film was given that kind of a screening here. The ovation that followed remains etched in my memory, and I should cherish it forever.'

Here's a look at Devdas at Cannes, then and now:

IMAGE: The setting for the Devdas screening at the Cannes Film Festival, May 20, 2017.
Photograph: Kind courtesy, Salil Sand/Twitter

IMAGE: 'Celebrating Beauty and Cinema: L'Oréal Paris Lights up the Big Screen' began May 17 with brand ambassador Julianne Moore's Maps to the Stars and will continue till May 22, featuring a different L'Oréal Paris actress -- even new global ambassador Elle Fanning -- every evening.
Photograph: Kind courtesy, Salil Sand/Twitter

Aishwarya Rai Cannes debut

IMAGE: Aishwarya at the photocall for Devdas in Cannes, May 23, 2002.
This was perhaps the first time that a masala Bollywood film was selected for screening at the festival, which was known to focus on arthouse films.
The importance of the opportunity and the responsibility of getting it right was not lost on the film's promoters.
Photograph: Eric Gaillard/Reuters

Devdas at Cannes

IMAGE: The filmmakers and overseas rights owners and the stars left nothing to chance.
Shah Rukh Khan, above left, who played Devdas, joined Aishwarya and Bhansali, above right for the screening despite a serious back injury.
The only star missing was Madhuri Dixit.
Photograph: Eric Gaillard/Reuters


IMAGE: Devdas was screened at Cannes' Grand Theatre Lumiere, where all important screenings take place.
Aishwarya and SRK arrived at the theatre on a four-horse carriage to thunderous applause and a crowd that just could not get enough of the actress.

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