Cannes rolls out red carpet for Indian movies
Actress Aishwarya Rai poses for portraits at the 66th international film festival, in Cannes, southern France, Monday, May 20, 2013. (AP Photo/Laurent Emmanuel)
CANNES, France (AP) — Indian cinema is being feted in Cannes on its 100th birthday. But amid the celebrations, the B-word — "Bollywood" — remains controversial.
The French film festival has rolled out the red carpet for Indian cinema this year, with events including a gala dinner and screening Sunday of "Bombay Talkies," a portmanteau movie with four directors and a star-studded cast including Rani Mukerji, Nawazuddin Siddiqui, Randeep Hooda and Saqib Saleem.
Several other Indian films are screening at the festival, which runs through May 26, including Amit Kumar's police-corruption story "Monsoon Shootout" and Anurag Kashyap's psychological thriller "Ugly" — though none is in competition for the coveted Palme d'Or prize.
Actress Aishwarya Rai poses for photographers as she arrives for the screening of the film Inside Llewyn Davis at the 66th international film festival, in Cannes, southern France, Sunday, May 19, 2013. (AP Photo/Francois Mori)
Indian stars such as Aishwarya Rai, Freida Pinto and Amitabh Bachchan — who appears in festival opener "The Great Gatsby" — have a significant presence at Cannes' red carpet galas and parties.
A hundred years after India released its first feature film "Raja Harischandra," the country has the world's most prolific film industry, turning out more than 1,000 movies a year and creating stars adored by millions around the world.
Now, its filmmakers want critical respect. Many feel the rest of the globe thinks Indian cinema is only limited to all-singing, all-dancing Bollywood extravaganzas.
"I just feel that the Indian film industry has its own identity and to be referred to in matching terms with Hollywood is perhaps not correct," Indian film icon Bachchan told reporters at a "Gatsby" press conference.