Silver screen

Indian debut movie ‘Masaan’ sparkles at Cannes Film Festival, gets two awards

Neeraj Ghaywan’s debut feature, set in Varanasi won a prize in the Un Certain Regard category as well as a FIPRESCI jury nod.

Filmmaker Neeraj Ghaywan has struck gold at the Cannes Film Festival with his first film, Masaan. The Indo-French co-production, which is set in Varanasi, has picked up two awards at the festival. One is a prize awarded to directors with “promising futures” from the jury of the Un Certain Regard category in which the film was shown. Masaan shared the award with Ida Panahandeh’s Nahid, a drama about divorce and remarriage set in Iran. Several Indian films have been shown in Un Certain Regard in the past, including Kanu Behl’s debut Titli last year, but Ghaywan is the first Indian director to win a prize in this section.

Masaan,  which follows four characters from the ancient city on the banks of the Ganga, also caught the attention of the International Federation of Film Critics, known as FIPRESCI. The nine-member jury, including Indian critic Bitopan Borborah, handed out prizes across categories, and they picked up Masaan as the best film from the 19 Un Certain Regard titles.

Originally titled Flying Solo, Masaan has been co-written by Ghaywan by lyricist and stand-up comedian Varun Grover. According to a press release, the film is about “a low caste boy in hopeless love, a daughter ridden with guilt of a sexual encounter ending in a tragedy, a hapless father with fading morality, and a spirited child yearning for a family”, all of whom “long to escape the moral constructs of a small-town”. The cast includes Richa Chadha, Sanjay Mishra, Shweta Tripathi, Vineet Kumar and Pankaj Tripathi, and is scheduled to open in cinemas later this year.

The Un Certain Regard jury, headed by actor Isabella Rossellini, gave the top award to Grimur Hakonarson’s Iceland-set Rams. The section showcases the films of young and upcoming directors, and is keenly watched by international festival programmers, critics and distributors.

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