The 70th edition of Cannes film festival is under way, and here’s a recap of notable Indian films that have left their mark over the years.

International film festival of great acclaim, Cannes, is an annual film festival that happens in the French Riviera in the city of Cannes, France. The international film festival that began in the year 1946 will make its 70th appearance in 2017. India as such has been an active part of Cannes over the years with an entire roster of films having received high acclaim during their screening at the festival. As far as celebrities go, Aishwarya Rai Bachchan has been the face of Indian Cinema at Cannes, and this year will mark her 15th film festival appearance. Although this year will see just one film being screened at the film festival, there have been quite a number of films that have put Indian cinema on the map.

FTII student Payal Kapadia’s short film Afternoon Clouds, is the only Indian film being showcased at the 70th Cannes Film Festival in the Cinéfondation selection.


Take a look at the most notable Indian films to be screened at Cannes over the years:

1. Fly Away Solo (Masaan, 2015)

Director: Neeraj Ghaywan


Masaan, was the debut film attempt of director Neeraj Ghaywan. The film revolves around the lives of certain characters caught in a sex scandal in the holy Indian city of Varanasi. It was the first Indian film to win in the Un Certain Regard category and also won the Fipresci prize.

2. Marana Simhasanam (1999)

Director: Murali Nair

Credits: Vpro

Marana Simhasanam which literally translates to “The Throne Of Death”, bagged the Camera d’Or at the 1999 festival edition. The story revolves around a desperate villager in the state of Kerala who steals coconuts to feed his family and how he gets caught up in a political feud that gets him sentenced to death. The film has minimal dialogue and brings out the emphasis of its theme through powerful critique of oppression and political manipulation.

3. Salaam Bombay! (1988)

Director: Mira Nair


Highly acclaimed director, Mira Nair, spun yet another wonder with “Salaam Bombay” at Cannes in 1988. The film reenacts the lives of children from the streets of Bombay who face adversity every day of their lives. The harsh truth of the honest documentation of the lives of these children varies from their encounters with poverty, prostitution, sweatshops and even the drug market. The film went on to win the Camera d’Or and the Audience Award in 1988, along with multiple other awards at festivals overseas.

4. Kharij (1982)

Director: Mrinal Sen


Kharij, which translates to “Case is closed”, is the tragic tale of the accidental death of an underage servant, and how his death affects the couple that hired him. The film went on to win the Special Jury Prize at the 1983 film festival. 

5. Pather Panchali (1955)

Director: Satyajit Ray

Credit: Alchetron

Satyajit Ray showcased a wondrous tale in the story of “Pather Panchali”, which is the first film in the Apu trilogy, which went on to win the Best Human Document in 1956. The film is the realistic narrative of a young boy who lives with his family, and shows the ups and downs of life in Bengal. 

6. Do Bigha Zamin (1954)

Director: Bimal Roy


Do Bigha Zamin which translates to “Two Acres Of Land”, is the tale of a farmer and the perils he faces in paying back an artificially-inflated debt. It was the first Indian film to be awarded the respectable Prix Internationale at the 1954 festival. 

7. Amar Bhoopali (1951)

Director: Rajaram Vankudre Shantaram


Amar Bhoopali (The Immortal Song), was Shantaram’s classic rendition of a biopic of the poet and musician Honaji Bala during the final days of the Maratha confederacy in the early 19th century. The film that was nominated for the award of Grand Prize of the Festival, instead went on to win an award for Excellence in Sound Recording.

8. Neecha Nagar (1946)

Director: Chetan Anand

Credits: The Daily Star

One of the most iconic Indian films that went on to win worldwide recognition and pave the way for Indian cinema would have to be Neecha Nagar by director Chetan Anand. Based on a short story written by Hayatulla Ansari, the film showcases the story in retrospect on the divide and differences between the rich and poor societies in India. The film went on to win the Grand Prix du Festival International du Film, which is now known as Palme d’Or, at the 1946 Festival.

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