2022 marks the 75th year of the Cannes Film Festival. And it is an extra special occasion, especially for India—the 1er festival de cinéma au monde has chosen India as its Country of Honor at the Marché du Film, an honor bestowed as the nation celebrates 75 years of Independence. India is the first country ever to have been given this honor and it will be continued annually in future editions, with other nations in the forefront every year, recognizing their culture and heritage on an international platform.
As India shines at the 75th edition of the film festival, we flip through the lookbook of the festival to walk down the memory lane of evolution of India at Cannes.
Evolution of India at Cannes Over the Years
The journey of India at Cannes goes way back, as early as circa 1946, when legendary director Chetan Anand’s debut film, Neecha Nagar, won the prestigious Grand Prix (now Palme d’Or or The Golden Palm) award, the highest honor of the festival.
A still from 1946’s Grand Prix (Palme d’Or) winner, Neecha Nagar. Image courtesy: Indian Express
Bollywood made its grand debut at the Cannes film festival and the red carpet in 2002 and has always caught the eyes of the cameras (and the rest of the world) ever since. The carpet has seen several Indian personalities proudly represent the country by adorning Indian Wear.
With India being the “focus country” at the festival, we decided to focus on how the representation of Indian look at Cannes has evolved over the years.
When Aishwarya Rai Bachchan Dazzled Like the Sun
The evergreen diva’s debut at the red carpet coincided with the debut of Bollywood when Sanjay Leela Bhansali’s Devdas was screened at the festival. For her debut look, Rai wore a dazzling mustard yellow and gold saree and paired it with heavy gold jhumkas, choker-style neckpiece, and bangles—a quintessential India-inspired look at the time.
Aishwarya Rai Bachchan decked up in gold for her Cannes debut. Image courtesy: Pinterest
Nandita Das Gracing the Red Carpet in Red Silk
At the 58th edition of the film festival, filmmaker Nandita Das walked the red carpet as a member of the jury. She donned a simple, red uppada silk saree with golden border, traditional Indian jewelry, and completed her look with a gajra (a hair ornament made of jasmine flowers)—simple, yet graceful.
Nandita Das in a candid moment, wearing her uppada silk. Image courtesy: Zimbio
When Deepika Padukone Chose Indian for her Cannes Debut
Like Aishwarya Rai Bachchan and Nandita Das, Deepika Padukone, a coveted member of this year’s jury, decided to go Indian for her debut at the Cannes red carpet. She wore a white saree with copper embellishments and Gota-patti work and paired it with traditional gold and pearl earrings and a broad bracelet.
Deepika Padukone at Cannes, debuting in a white saree with copper embellishments. Image courtesy: Vogue
2013 Was the Year of Eccentric Nose Rings
Two looks from the Bollywood entourage representing India at Cannes were particularly talked about at the 66th edition—Vidya Balan’s, who was a member of the jury that year, and the other was Sonam Kapoor’s, who walked the red carpet for the first time. Both of them chose to don sarees—one a Sabyasachi, and the other a fusion ensemble. However, the features of the highest interest were their bold and eccentric nose rings.
When Sonam Kapoor and Vidya Balan made 2013 the year of the nose ring. Image courtesy: India Today
Sonam Kapoor’s Iconic 2014 Sartorial Moment
The second visit of the premier fashionista of Bollywood made as many heads turn, if not more, as did her debut. The pale pink net saree, with a bejeweled border and blouse, donned in a dhoti-style drape was and still is one of Bollywood’s most iconic sartorial red carpet moments at Cannes.
When Sonam Kapoor gave India-inspired an unconventional twist. Image courtesy: saree.com
Aurus at Cannes 2022!
The 75th edition of Cannes has seen the largest contingent from India at Cannes so far, with multiple India-inspired looks. However—forgive us for being partial—the moment that stole the limelight has to be when the gorgeous Jyothi Rajamannar walked the red carpet wearing her Nitya Jaisalmeri Necklace and Indrani Earrings from Aurus! Nobody could have carried it as gracefully as she did. Period.
The lovely Jyothi Rajammanar wearing her Aurus at the Cannes 2022 red carpet
Seeing Jyothi adorne her Aurus for her red carpet look took us down the memory lane to the moment when she got it for herself—and it sure is a story worth sharing! The year was 2019, when Aurus was still quite new. It was a seemingly uneventful night when suddenly, a woman named Jyothi Rajamannar reached out to us on Facebook around 9:30 pm IST, asking for the details of the piece. And before we could realize what was happening, the piece was ordered and subsequently shipped to her in the US in less than 24 hours! One of our fondest memories in the years to come!