Bollywood Buzz, Exclusive | October 16, 2014 at 12:56 pm
“Hi! What are you going for?”“Arre yaar, Deepika ka ek event hai abhi. Abhi iske baad Imran se milne jaana hai.”This was a conversation between two women in a lift I was in, moments before reaching Screen 3 at Cinemax Versova. It was easy to deduce that the second was an entertainment journalist looking to get a quote or two from Padukone. It took me a few more seconds to realise that “Deepika ka event” referred to the very same talk I was going for, just as “Imran se milne jaana hai” referred to the screening of French filmTwo Days, One Night at Chandan cinema that actor Imran Khan was presenting at around the same time.
I was going to see a Master Class with legendary French actress Catherine Deneuve in conversation with film critic and MFF’s Creative Director, Anupama Chopra and Padukone. Deneuve had been conferred with a lifetime achievement award at the opening ceremony on 14 October. MFF is showing a small cluster of unforgettable Deneuve films, like The Last Metro and The Umbrellas of Cherbourg. Chopra has started a series of in-depth interviews for her YouTube channel Film Companion and this series is titled Master Class.
As we waited for the event to start, a rumour started that Padukone, who was a surprisingly integral part of this conversation (more on that later), would be an hour late. No surprise, given just one day ago she’d arrived for the opening ceremony after it got over.
But wonder of wonders, Padukone turned up a mere 15 minutes late for this event, towering over everyone else in heels. To be fair, Deneuve walked in only five minutes after her and the two, along with Chopra, sat down in chairs just under the screen, in almost total darkness.
“Can everybody hear me?” asked Chopra, as she took the mic. “Yes, but we can’t see you,” responded a few people in the audience.
“No matter, just listen to the sound of our voices,” said Chopra, with a laugh.
You would be forgiven for thinking it was a radio festival instead of a film festival. About 15-20 minutes into the conversation, the lights came on in theory but not in actual effect because they weren’t enough to really illuminate the proceedings. “By the time the lights come on fully, we would’ve left the theatre,” said Deneuve, her tone barely hiding any sarcasm.
Time for some context. Catherine Deneuve, 70, is a powerhouse actress whose career has spanned more than 50 years, during which she has appeared in 100 films. Having worked with some of the greatest filmmakers ever – such as Luis Buuel, Franois Truffaut, Jacques Demy, Roman Polanski, Lars Von Trier, amongst others – Deneuve has garnered a reputation for her charisma and sensitive performances. Her roles in films like Polanski’s Repulsion, Buuel’s Belle De Jour and Tristana, amongst others, earned her the nickname ice maiden’. She is a truly unique actress, whose only possible contemporaries anywhere in the world would probably include the likes of Dame Helen Mirren and Sophia Loren.
Master Class began with Chopra introducing Deneuve first and then describing Padukone as India’s Angelina Jolie (say what?!).
Broad questions were posed to the two actresses and the contrast between their replies was almost farcical. For instance, at one point, a chatty Padukone spoke about how a good performance is dependent on a healthy equation with one’s director. Deneuve immediately contradicted this, speaking of her difficulties in working with Buuel (“He couldn’t hear too well, and was never ready to talk or to listen about anything”) which, nevertheless, led to some great cinema. Padukone persisted and said it’s important for one to be comfortable, to which Deneuve responded diplomatically by saying, “I’m not sure I would agree and I’m not sure I would disagree.”
This went on and on, with each question bringing out dramatically different answers from the two actresses, which in turn were stemming, obviously, from their dramatically different sensibilities. Deneuve spoke about movies like The Umbrellas of Cherbourg; Padukone spoke about duds like Aarakshan and Kheley Hum Jee Jaan Sey.
And then there was the downright embarrassing ” “Do you ever have ugly days?” was an actual question that the 12-time Csar Award nominee had to answer. Friends in the audience sitting around me kept alternating between facepalms and giggles; one acquaintance even decided to curl up and take a nap in his seat.
The obvious question to be asked here is this: why in the world was Padukone chosen to be part of this event? While she is one of the better leading ladies in mainstream Bollywood cinema today, in what universe does she complement a discussion with an actress of Deneuve’s calibre, particularly for a discerning, film-loving audience?
We all know about Padukone’s films and her career – it’s in every newspaper and website, every single day. It was Deneuve that young film enthusiasts would have wanted to know about. Instead, we heard Padukone speaking at length about Finding Fanny, (since it’s the only film with street-cred’ she’s done, overrated as it might be), and field most of the audience’s mostly inane questions (“Deepikaji, are you doing Fast & Furious 7?”)
Simply put, it was like watching Ella Fitzgerald and Katy Perry share the stage at a jazz festival. Does that sound like music to your ears?
ROFL They dont spare anyone, do they?
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