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.”