Bollywood stars are slaying the Cannes Film Festival red carpet with their dramatic, fashion-forward gowns, but there is no escaping this grim reality: there are no Indian films being screened at this year’s prestigious cinematic carnival.
Ask Huma Qureshi, who has been invited by beverage brand Grey Goose to the festival, about this vacuum, and she says an actor’s job cannot be held solely responsible.
“The onus is on the industry. The question is to ask ourselves is are we trying to make films that will hold up to these kind of international standards,” said Qureshi in an exclusive interview with Gulf News tabloid!. Qureshi was about to be whisked away to a red carpet before attending our call from the UAE.
Being a part of a film industry that’s obsessed with box-office results and figures doesn’t help their cause either, believes the 32-year-old talent.
India’s producers, writers and directors should be asking themselves why they haven’t made movies that make the festival’s discerning cut this year.
“Cannes is not a festival that celebrates that. Let us get that cleared. This festival celebrates art for art itself... The artists who come here are saying that we appreciate cinema for what it is. So if we don’t have a film in Cannes this year, it is unfortunate and is sad. But I don’t think the onus lies on the actors who are here,” said Qureshi.
In 2012, her debut film ‘Gangs Of Wasseypur’, a violent thriller directed by Anurag Kashyap, got a standing ovation at Director’s Fortnight section at 65th Cannes Film Festival.
“Cannes will always hold a special place in my heart because my first film premiered here. It was the first time that I saw myself on the big screen too,” said Qureshi. It’s her third time at the festival and she’s loving every minute of it. The night before our call, this Cannes staple was partying it up with Priyanka Chopra Jonas and Nick Jonas.
“PC [Chopra Jonas] was very sweet. She was hosting this dinner with Nick Jonas and it was nice of them to invite us [Diana Penty, Hina Khan were a part of the guest list]. As she called it, it’s more power to the desi-girls-in-Cannes kinda moment.”
Her days are hectic with fittings, make-up and brand-plugging gigs, says Qureshi.
“But it’s something that I look forward to. I enjoy the kind of films that are shown here and I enjoy the fashion on display … But the red carpet here is one of the most intimidating red carpets in the world.”
For a middle-class girl from Delhi, this Bollywood outsider who doesn’t boast of any acting dynasty support hasn’t done too shabbily. She has worked with Bollywood finest directors including Deepa Mehta (‘Leila’, premiering in Netflix in June), Abhishek Chaubey (‘Dedh Ishqiya’), Sriram Raghavan (‘Badlapur’) and Gurinder Chadha (‘The Last Viceroy’s House’).
“We make our own opportunities as we go along in life. We can’t complain. It has been an interesting journey. I have enjoyed every moment for it … As an actor, I have always chased good work and good directors. My dream is to do a certain kind of work and I am living that dream… I feel blessed.”
Huma Qureshi on …
#Askusmore, a movement that aims to fight frivolous questions towards actresses: “There’s this perception that just because you are beautiful or you are glamorous or into high fashion, you are dumb … Sometimes, they don’t expect me to know things. If I am an actress, I am supposed to have this low IQ. We should be asked more than what we are wearing.”
Embracing body positivity: “You can’t tell a little girl sitting somewhere around the world that your nose is not right or your thighs are too fat or that your colour isn’t correct … That constant bombarding is weird and harmful.”
Working with Deepa Mehta for Leila: “She has opened another chapter in my life. When I first met her I was very intimidated. But today, I can call her my friend, my mentor and someone I would turn to for advice. She has pushed me to another level as an actor.”