May 23, 2002 
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Devdas' moment of fame at Cannes
Sanjay Leela Bhansali's epic will enjoy international attention

Krystoff de Breza in Cannes

It is all signals green for the screening of Sanjay Leela Bhansali's Devdas at the Cannes Film Festival.

This is perhaps the first time that a masala film from India has been selected for screening at Cannes, which has so far restricted itself to select arthouse films. The importance of getting it right is not amiss on the promoters of Devdas at Cannes.

The film's producers and overseas rights owners, London-based Eros Multimedia, have left nothing to chance to ensure the screening is a success.

Shah Rukh Khan, the film's protagonist, is here despite his serious back injury. Aishwarya Rai, who plays his only love in the film, has been hogging the limelight while getting herself a lovely tan on the famous Cote d'Azur (The Blue Coast). The only star missing is Madhuri Dixit who plays the courtesan Chandramukhi in the film.

Realising the importance of the right buildup for the success of any screening, the Devdas team has been going about their job thoroughly. They recruited a high profile publicity manager from London who is calling the shots about everything that goes out to the world on Devdas.

The stars have been told to follow the schedule and programme prepared by the publicist, who oversees the minutest details of what the Devdas team does or says either in the presence of the media or other showbiz personalities. The fortnight-long effort seems to be paying off. There is a huge demand for passes for the film's screening Thursday night. The director and publicist have a tough time making the list of invitees for the screening.

They seem to have been helped by a newly-aroused curiosity about the Indian film industry at Cannes, due to the tribute to Raj Kapoor, whose films --- Aag, Barsaat and Awaara --- are being screened here.

There is a lot of interest about Devdas in particular and Indian films in general at Cannes, something which had been amiss for the last several years. This interest will ensure a full house at 10.30 pm local time Thursday, when the screening begins at the Grand Theatre Lumiere, the primary screen at Cannes.

More on Cannes 2002:
Why Shah Rukh believes in competing only with himself
Why Devdas is a troublesome, but dear child
A Kapoor moment at Cannes
Indian delegation happy at Cannes
Issh! The new buzzword at Cannes
Ash shines at Cannes
India's first animation gets Cannes nod


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