India’s cinematic narrative continues to unfold on the international stage, with ‘The Shameless’ taking its proud place at the Cannes Film Festival 2024 in the ‘Un Certain Regard’ section. Directed by Konstantin Bojanov, known for the critical success of ‘Avé’ at Cannes’ Critics’ Week in 2011 and the world premiere of ‘Light Thereafter’ in Rotterdam in 2017, his debut in Indian films with ‘The Shameless’ tells the gripping story of Nadira’s struggle for freedom—a subject aptly embodying the festival’s celebration of diverse storytelling and innovative perspectives.

In “The Shameless,” Nadira courageously flees a brothel in Delhi, challenging the shackles of her past. Amid her newfound community of sex workers, she bonds with Devika, who is also ensnared by oppressive customs. Their shared quest for freedom propels them on a perilous journey against exploitation and societal norms.

Marathi actor Rohit Kokate, lauded for his stark portrayals in Aadish Keluskar’s ‘Kaul’, and ‘Jaoon Kahan Bata Ae Dil’, as well as ‘Bogda’ and the popular series ‘Date with Saie’, brings to life the character of Dinesh, a ruthless politician. The talented cast also includes Omara, Anasuya Sengupta, Aroshikha Dey, Tanmay Dhanania, Kiran B, and Mita Vashisht—each actor adding a layer of nuanced performance that speaks to the film’s core themes of autonomy and resistance.

On casting Rohit Kokate, Konstantin said, in an interview with The New Indian Express, “Rohit Kokate was a pleasure. I saw him in the film Lovefucked (original title ‘Jaaoon Kahan Bata Ae Dil) on Netflix and cast him based on the complexity of the sociopathic, sadistic character that he plays. In our film, he is an aspiring politician.”

Rohit Kokate & Konstantin Bojanov on the set of The Shameless which premiers at Cannes 2024
Rohit Kokate & Konstantin Bojanov on the set of The Shameless which premiers at Cannes 2024

This selection continues a legacy of Indian films at Cannes that merge critical acclaim with resonant storytelling—a legacy recently highlighted by Payal Kapadia’s ‘All We Imagine as Light’ in the competition section and Sandhya Suri’s ‘Santosh’, starring Shahana Goswami and Sanjay Bishnoi in this year’s Un Certain Regard section. Their inclusion signifies an ongoing recognition for India’s filmmakers who consistently push the boundaries of cinematic expression.

India’s tryst with the festival’s revered Palme d’Or competition dates back to Chetan Anand’s ‘Neecha Nagar’, which triumphed with the award in its inaugural year, 1946. Since then, milestone films like Mrinal Sen’s ‘Kharij’ have won the Jury Prize in 1983, and Shaji N Karun’s ‘Swaham’ made its competition entry in 1994. Other entries, V Shantaram’s ‘Amar Bhoopali’ in 1952, Satyajit Ray’s ‘Parash Pathar’ in 1958, and MS Sathyu’s ‘Garm Hava’ in 1974, have showcased India’s varied cinematic explorations at Cannes.

As the Cannes Film Festival gears up for its grand showcase from May 14-25, the selection of ‘The Shameless’ underscores the anticipation circling Indian entries. This film, alongside ‘All We Imagine as Light’ and ‘Santosh’, is set to amplify India’s presence, weaving into the fabric of Cannes a tapestry of Indian narratives rife with human spirit and artistic veracity.

Also, Read: Cannes Film Festival Unveils 2024 Competition Lineup — Complete List

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