The 69th annual Cannes Film Festival begins today, May 11th, 2016. Festival de Cannes, as it is called in French, is known to curate and showcase some of the most brilliant examples of cinematic excellence from across the world. This year too, the prestigious film festival – a shining, lavish statement of fashion, glamour and everything opulent – will continue till May 22nd 2016. It will see a host of films in the course of 11 days. At Cannes, film makers, actors, actresses, models and countries’ ambassadors – all come together to stage cinematic highlights, from across the globe.
Despite Bollywood being a multi-billion industry, India hasn’t had much of a presence in this coveted film festival. This year, only one documentary from India has made to the Cannes list of competing/ to-be-screened films. With not much presence, only the film crews and actors from the screened films participate in the festival – and represent the nation.
Nonetheless, there have been a few Bollywood regulars to Cannes. As French brand L’Oreal’s face, Aishwarya Rai, undeniably, is the most prominent one, followed by Sonam Kapoor, another L’Oreal ambassador. Aish, incidentally, has attended the festival also as a jury member.
Aishwarya Rai completes 15 years of representing India at Cannes – in 2016. The actress recently spoke of her journey, as she fondly recalled the ‘beginning’ in 2002 – right after her super hit Devdas. In whatever looks she has flaunted at Cannes, Aish almost always has looked her best in the Indian Ethnic ensembles. Even other Indian actresses have looked their sizzling best in lovely ethnic wear, be it ethereal Saris, heavily embellished Jodhpuri jackets or Designer Lehenga Cholis.
Some of those looks and outfits have been memorable, celebrating India’s rich culture, designs, weaves and handlooms. Let’s take a journey back in time to recall these wonderful creations.
Here’s a list of 12 most memorable Indian ethnic ‘looks’ flaunted by Aishwarya, Nandita Das, Vidya Balan, Bipasha Basu, Deepika Padukone and Sonam Kapoor at the Cannes stage –
1. Aishwarya in an eye-catching, bright mustard yellow and gold saree with heavy gold jewelry – in 2002
This was a look that garnered mixed reactions. While film fraternity disapproved of Neeta Lulla’s simplistic pick for Aishwarya, Indian designers lamented over-ostentation of the entire ‘look’. Aishwarya’s temple-inspired heavy gold jhumkas and choker-style neck-piece also received some flak. Nonetheless, all in all, the young and ravishing Aishwarya, looking innocent and demure, stood out in this glistening designer sari with Dabka motifs and Zardozi along the border.
2. Aish’s various looks during 2003 Cannes festival
This year, Aishwarya embarked to Cannes as a jury member. Representing India to the core, she chose to be in Indian attire (or India-inspired styles) for most of the events, during the festivals. Although, she was again criticized for her OTT style and color combinations, she, accompanied by her graceful mother in pure silk sarees, was a head-turner at the film gala. Her India-inspired corset and bohemian long skirt, Gujarati-style draped, seedha pallu lime green saree, arresting ornate straight-cut lehenga choli in pink and deep golden-brown, India-inspired gown, yellow kurti and tons of Indian traditional jewelry – all caught eyeballs.
3. Nandita Das as jury member at Cannes festival 2005 – in a red silk saree.
After Aish, it was the talented film-maker Nandita Das, a surprise package, who headed to Cannes as a coveted jury member at film festival’s 58th edition. Nandita too chose to go Indian for her French outing. Her elegant styling in a deep-red, plain ‘upada’ silk saree with golden border, with gold jewelry and flowers (jasmine gajra) in a neat bun simply stood out. Nandita, an unconventional actress, kept her look simple and Indian, all through the festival. Later in the event, Nandita showed up in another yellow silk sari, a simple white Salwar Suit as well as a deep fuchsia pink lehenga choli-inspired crinkled skirt and short kurti combo.
4. Bipasha Basu in a silver-white saree – at Cannes 2007
Sultry actress Bipasha Basu, along with then-beau John Abhraham, sizzled at the Cannes Film Festival in the year 2007. Dressed in a fluid, georgette saree in grey-white and silver abstract pattern, stunning Bips looked every inch an Indian diva. She paired her shimmery saree with a bedazzling silver clutch, silver danglers and bracelets and a bustier-inspired blouse.
5. Aishwarya in golden net saree with antique Zardozi work – at Cannes film festival 2010
After getting a (undue) hearing from media and critics alike for her garish Indian fashion choices, Aishwarya continued to wear Western silhouettes for a few years to the Cannes Film Festival. It was only in 2010, when a beaming Aish, accompanied by hubby Abhishek finally managed to shut the critics with her sublime styling in a muted gold, designer saree by Sabyasachi. Her kohled eyes, centre-parted hair tied in a neat bun and her jewel-less look – all became talk-of-the-town.
6. Vidya Balan – in all her majestic grandeur, during 2013 Cannes Films Festival.
Talented actress Vidya Balan attended the glamourous film festival as a jury member in 2013. She chose to keep her look out-and-out Indian Ethnic, mostly in her favourite designer Sabyasachi Mukherjee’s bespoke designer sarees and Indian ensembles. Inspired by the royal heritage and Mughal era, Vidya’s look was all about traditional gems, regal pearls, sublime drapes and jewel toned outfits. The plain, maroon Lehenga Choli, Vidya wore with centre-parted hair and a black dupatta won her praises from all quarters. However, all her looks were not a hit, and she also faced criticism for being OTT.
7. Nandita Das in 2014 – for all the near-perfect sari choices she made.
Nandita confirmed that she is a perfect Indian ambassador – yet again in 2013. Still biased towards rich India silk sarees and understated elegance, Nandita appeared more polished, more graceful than her earlier Cannes outing. She wore another gleaming mustard yellow (her favourite colour) Kanjivaram silk saree to perfection, followed by a two-toned purple pure silk beauty and later, a muted gold saree – as a jury member at Cannes. Her off-white saree with temple border, and her demure yellow (again!) Salwar Suit (Churidar Kurta) with gold dupatta were also media’s favourites.
8. Sonam Kapoor in a white and gold designer saree (a long cape and striking nose-ring) – in 2013
A big entourage from Bollywood headed to Cannes in 2013. This was style icon Sonam Kapoor’s first Cannes outing. On one of the events, Sonam caught the limelight in a quirky Indian fashion ensemble – a white and gold sari with a long, trailing cape (jacket) and a royal nose-ring. Although, Sonam’s look garnered mixed reactions – sometimes more negative than positive, this was a path-breaking style, and still remains young actress’ most viewed looks.
9. Sonam Kapoor yet again in a quirkily draped, pale pink saree – in 2014
Sonam ensured mending the sartorial mistakes she had committed in the past year, during her second Cannes’ journey in 2014. She still went Indian, but this time she ensured sporting a ‘youthful’ look – in a pale pink net saree with a bejwelled border and blouse and open, flowy hair. The saree’s Dhoti inspired drape, done over satin slim pants, became the talk-of-the-town. Sonam’s choker-inspired gold neck-piece, given its majestic appeal, and matching clutch – won her accolades from media and designers.
10. Deepika Padukone’s slim saree in 2010
Pretty actress Deepika Padukone, who was quite new to the trade at the time, appeared in another white creation at Cannes festival in 2010. Young Deepika looked every bit an Indian in a sleeve-less blouse and copper embellished white saree with Gota patti work. She flaunted her flawless figure to perfection, and looked quite elegant. Her look too received mixed reviews, as critics believed that the designer behind the creation could not give Deepika her due – and she could have looked much better. Well, we love her, here!
11. Aishwarya’s long Nawabi-style long Anarkali/ Cape
By 2013, Aishwarya had made it! Way polished and mature as an actress and performer, Aish was every bit a diva on the world stage in a muted yet ethereally beautiful long cape style silhouette. Truly majestic and grand, this dress-inspired Anarkali/Cape was a perfect tribute to the Mughal era and royal heritage of India. In this heavily embellished, beige ensemble, Aish looked divine. She did not accessorize it with jewels, as the outfit itself was bejeweled.
12. Aish in an ivory saree and golden long choli – 2012
This may not be her best looks at Cannes, but it still is one among her most talked ones. Post pregnancy, when Aish had gained weight and was under criticism from various quarters, this sublime ensemble and its chic styling was a befitting answer Aishwarya gave to the world. Worn to Cannes in 2012, Aish looked regal in one word – in this Chikankari Sari and long Choli/ Kurti combo. The meenakari (enamel) work inspired embellishments on the blouse/ choli and the relaxed updo stood out in this divine creation.