Payal Kapadia: From Protests to Prestigious Cannes Win

Payal Kapadia, an FTII alumna, made history by winning the Grand Prix Award at the 77th Cannes Film Festival. Previously known for leading a student protest in 2015 against FTII's chairman appointment, she now stands as a beacon of Indian cinematic talent on the global stage.

PTI | Pune | Updated: 27-05-2024 00:40 IST | Created: 27-05-2024 00:40 IST
Payal Kapadia: From Protests to Prestigious Cannes Win
Payal Kapadia
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Amid the outpouring of congratulatory messages for Payal Kapadia, who won the second highest honour at the 77th Cannes Film Festival, the one from her alma mater FTII garnered much attention on Sunday.

At the gala, which concluded on Saturday, Kapadia won the Grand Prix Award, becoming the first Indian to bag the honour.

Back in 2015, Kapadia was on the warpath with the Film and Television Institute of India (FTII).

She had led a student protest against the appointment of actor-turned-politician Gajendra Chauhan, best known for his portrayal of Yudhisthir in the mega TV serial 'Mahabharat', as the chairman of the Pune-based premier institute. According to the protesting students, Chauhan did not match the vision and stature of past chairmen of the FTII governing council, and his appointment appeared "politically coloured".

During the 139-day strike, the students had also allegedly gheraoed and confined the then FTII Director Prashant Pathrabe in his office over some academic issues.

This had led to the police entering the campus and arresting some of the protesters.

Later, 35 students, including Kapadia, were booked under Indian Penal Code sections, including 143, 147, 149, 323, 353 and 506, dealing with offences, some of them non-bailable, related to unlawful assembly, criminal intimidation and rioting.

The chargesheet in the case was filed in 2016. The defence lawyer, representing the students, said the next court hearing is scheduled for June 26. "It is a moment of pride for FTII as its Alumni create history at Cannes. As we witness a phenomenal year for Indian Cinema at the 77th Cannes Film Festival, FTII cherishes the glorious achievements of its Alumni at this Mega International Stage of Cinema," FTII said in a post on X. "We congratulate Payal Kapadia for winning the Grand Prix Award, Santosh Sivan for receiving the Pierre Angénieux Tribute Award, Maisam Ali for his debut at ACID & Chidanand S Naik for winning La Cinef. Their achievements are taking Indian Cinema to greater heights," the post added.

Oscar-winning Indian sound designer Resul Pookutty in his post on social media said the mainstream Indian film industry has nothing to do with this glory and they "only looked at us as outcasts". The only reason they won is also not because "we had inspiring teachers, there were some but not all", he said.

He added, "Payal (Accused No.25) comes back from Cannes and next month, will have to go for her court case hearing that FTII lodged against her for striking against the appointment of Mr.Chouhan as the Chairman! Interesting isn't it?!" Ameya Gore, one of the 35 students who were booked in the case, said that after the incident, the majority of the students faced issues with scholarships and obtaining passports. "The case is still ongoing in the Sessions Court, but there has been no progress from the prosecution's side. The trial has not started yet. Hearings are generally scheduled every two to three months, but nothing happens because nobody from the prosecution shows up," Gore said.

Advocate Chinmay Inamdar, who is defending the students, said the prosecution has filed the chargesheet but not submitted the video file in the form of CD/DVD or pen drive of the incident of the director being gheraoed in 2015. "We have moved an application before the court to get a copy so that we can file a discharge application for the students and the matter is pending for this. The next hearing is scheduled to take place on June 26," he said.

It was a triple feat for Indian talent at the 2024 Cannes Film Festival with Kapadia's 'All We Imagine As Light', 'Sunflowers Were the First Ones to Know' by FTII student Chidananda S Naik, and Anasuya Sengupta of 'The Shameless' fame winning major awards in each of the three competitive sections at Cannes.

Prime Minister Narendra Modi said India is ''proud'' of Kapadia for her historic feat.

''An alumnus of FTII, her remarkable talent continues to shine on the global stage, giving a glimpse of the rich creativity in India. This prestigious accolade not only honours her exceptional skills but also inspires a new generation of Indian filmmakers,'' he said in a post on X.

(This story has not been edited by Devdiscourse staff and is auto-generated from a syndicated feed.)

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