Cannes screens midnight salute to Bollywood

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Cannes celebrated Bollywood on Saturday with the midnight screening of a specially prepared montage of great moments in Hindi musical cinema that didn't quite get the audience dancing in the aisles.

"Bollywood: The World's Greatest Love Story" was put together over the past year at the behest of festival director Thierry Fremaux to make up for a perennial dearth of Indian films in competition at the world's biggest film event.

"You can dance during the film if you want," Fremaux told the black-tie audience, and for encouragement a glamourous posse of Mumbai film stars was on hand, some of whom danced their way up the red carpet under a full moon.

But from the balcony seats, it looked as if no one took up the invitation, and indeed a number of mainly older viewers were seen leaving early.

For those who stayed, the reward was a dazzling 81-minute crash course in the Bollywood genre, including two minutes of obligatory wet-sari scenes, directed by Sherkar Kapur and snappily edited by US documentary maker Jeff Zimbalist.

Kapur, a Cannes jury member last year, said the idea for the project came from Fremaux, who had been impressed by audiences dancing at the London musical "Bombay Dreams" which Kapur co-produced.

"The audience (in Cannes) should see why over a billion people are having a love affair with this kind of cinema," he told the Hollywood Reporter trade journal in an interview published this week.

"It's been quite a delicate process to do this, including clips from almost 100 films from black-and-white to today's cinema."

© 2011 AFP

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