Beyond The Red Carpet: 4 Indian Films You Should Know About At Cannes 2023

This year, 4 films by Indian filmmakers had their world premieres at Cannes Film Festival
This year, 4 films by Indian filmmakers had their world premieres at Cannes Film Festival IMDb

Apart from the Met Gala, Cannes Film Festival is probably the next most anticipated event. It has developed a cult following through its glamorous red-carpet looks and beyond that represents the pinnacle of artistic excellence and cinematic expression with international artists uniting to celebrate film. Throughout the years, Indian stars like Aishwarya Rai, Priyanka Chopra and Deepika Padukone have also been known for their iconic appearances at the festival. But India’s representation usually lasts till the end of the carpet with very few entries from Indian cinema going into the actual festival. Last year, despite India being the official country of honour at Cannes, only one Indian short film made the cut. 

This year, however, in a roaring turn-around, four films by Indian filmmakers had their world premiere at Cannes 2023, with one of them even making the competitive ‘La Cinef’ section. Revered desi celebs weren’t the only thing that represented India; we had a solid representation of India's cinematic brilliance and cultural depth that shined amongst global film royalty with real, interpersonal stories.

Anurag Kashyap with Sonny Leone at Cannes '23 for their film, Kennedy
Anurag Kashyap with Sonny Leone at Cannes '23 for their film, KennedyMasala

Anurag Kashyap's awaited neo-noir thriller Kennedy, about an insomniac ex-cop who was presumed dead but is now on a redemptive quest screened yesterday at the festival’s Midnight Screenings segment.

Aribam Syam Sharma's Manipuri film Ishanou restored by The Film Heritage Foundation in association with the Manipur State Film Development Society premiered on the 19th of May at the festival.

The only Indian film in the competitive 'La Cinef' section of Cannes 2023, Nehemich by Yudhajit Basu, is set against the backdrop of the pandemic in a Maharashtrian village where a young girl hopes to elope with her lover after being banished from her village to a dilapidated hut for the duration of her period.

Agra was Kanu Behl's 2nd Cannes premiere and received a 5-minute standing ovation in the Directors’ Fortnight section for its intrepid story of male sexual repression and emancipation.

These films went beyond the stereotypes and provided a subversive, nuanced glimpse into the rich tapestry of Indian society; addressing humanistic themes, shedding light on social issues, and challenging traditional conventions. They offered a window into the complexities of Indian culture; capturing the essence of the country and presenting its unique narratives to a global audience. Through their compelling narratives, powerful performances, and distinctive cinematic styles, Indian cinema has left an indelible mark at Cannes 2023 and has showcased its ingenious and evolving identity on the world stage.