Bollywood documentary “The Greatest Love Story Ever Told” by Rakeysh Omprakash Mehra and Shekhar Kapoor has taken Cannes by storm. Even before its screening in the French town, the documentary has already been invited to four other international film festivals.
Mehra seems somewhat stupefied by the spell that the documentary has cast on the foreign critics and audiences at Cannes.
“The documentary’s journey started on 14 May. After the red carpet walk, we had our first sold-out screening at 8 p.m. Ever since then the curious inquiries about our cinema have not stopped.”
A beach screening of the documentary left the entire congregation gasping for breath. Earlier, an indoor screening at Cannes was attended by over 2,000 people.
“It’s been an incredible experience,” says Mehra from Cannes.
“When we made this film we had only one target in mind. To connect Bollywood cinema with the socio-cultural events of the country was not an easy task. We didn’t want to put forward the usual Bollywood formula in a documentary.”
Now after several screenings of “The Greatest Love Story Ever Told”, Mehra feels the Western perception of Bollywood cinema is changing.
Says the director who was last in Cannes with his film “Rang De Basanti”: “Everyone here in Cannes is saying in one voice, ‘We didn’t know Indian cinema ran so deep’.
“After one screening the press kept asking us questions on Indian cinema for hours. The documentary has introduced to Cannes facets of Hindi cinema that they didn’t know existed… to ‘Sri 420′ and ‘Pyaasa’, to Shammi Kapoor and the anti-establishment angry young man played by Amitabh Bachchan.
“The perspective offered by the documentary is different from the one that Bollywood cinema has so far given to the West.”
Mehra has so far had no respite from screenings of and conversations on the documentary.
“I hope to catch all the movies here at Cannes from Tuesday. On the 19th, my wife Bharathi, who is here with me, and I leave for a two-day holiday near Cannes. Then we’re back in Mumbai.”