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Shabana Azmi Recalls Being At Cannes In 1976

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Shabana Azmi

The  mighty Shabana Azmi whose  path to  glory  started with  Shyam Benegal’s Ankur , recalls being  at the Cannes Film Festival  in May 1976 with Nishant, her second  film with Benegal. Smita  Patil who  was  also part  of the cast of Nishant accompanied  Shyam and Shabana.

Says Shabana, “Back then we were not glamour-struck by anything at Cannes .We were  not into star-gazing at the Festival.All we were experiencing was pure terror at not having any publicity material or any money whilst others were throwing lavish yatch  parties with caviar and champagne .”

In  the  midst  of this ultra-glamorous event Shabana  felt like  a pauper. “We were allowed the princely sun of 8 US dollars in foreign exchange so when I say we had no money I mean no money . Since breakfast was included in the room tariff we used to fill our stomachs with the breakfast spread,  and survive on coffee and French fries during the day.”

The never-ending  parties at Cannes took care  of the evening meals. “Inevitably we had dinner at the many parties where our intention was less to network and more to fill our stomachs.”

But Shabana  says  a hunger far beyond the belly exceeded all other  commitments  at Cannes. “We were  hungry to watch films. What was fascinating was to have Shyam Benegal draw up a list of the films that we could watch as we rushed from one screening to the next. The excitement  of watching  wonderful films from  the worldover  still gives me  goosebumps.”

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