Cannes diary: Aishwarya Rai confirms doing Mani Ratnam’s next, says she keeps it real with Aaradhya
Anupama Chopra interviewed Aishwarya Rai Bachchan, Asif Kapadia, Werner Herzog and Sonam Kapoor at Cannes. Here is an interesting sneak peek.
Aishwarya Rai Bachchan, Asif Kapadia, Werner Herzog and Sonam Kapoor – there aren’t many spaces in which a journalist can interview these four artists in one day! I started with an 8.30 am screening of Asif Kapadia’s new film Diego Maradona. An 8.30 am screening means you need to be in place by 8.10 latest because the lines get so long. As I was walking to the Palais des festivals around 7.55 am, I saw a man standing in the cold with a sign begging for a ticket to a film. The passion for films on display here is jaw-dropping.
Diego Maradona is a gripping and heartbreaking film about the football legend who, for a brief moment in time, became God. On the field, Maradona was a thing of beauty. I have no interest in football and very little knowledge of Maradona’s career but even for someone like me, the sequences of his prowess with a ball was astonishing. As with his two earlier documentaries, Senna and Amy, Asif has made a documentary that relies not on the usual talking heads but on archival footage. The film captures Maradona’s rise to being the best football player in the world and then his cocaine and scandal-fuelled fall. Unlike Asif’s earlier subjects, Maradona is alive and kicking. But it’s devastating to see him overweight and frayed by time. Diego Maradona celebrates the highs but it doesn’t shy away from the lows. Asif said Maradona had given the project his blessing but he hasn’t seen the film yet.
In sharp contrast to Maradona is the filmmaker Werner Herzog who at 76 is so driven and disciplined that in the last 12 months, he’s finished three films. Herzog self-funded his latest film Family Romance, LLC. He said, he had no problem shooting in Japan or directing Japanese actors via an interpreter. I asked him if he was afraid that would run out of subjects since he is so prolific. He said not at all because there are dozens of subject waiting and he will decide which one to do, depending on which one comes at him “most vehemently.”
Meanwhile Sonam Kapoor Ahuja prepped to walk the red carpet tomorrow. I read that with hits like Sanju, Padman and Veere de Wedding, Sonam was the most profitable female actor of 2018. In 2019, she was featured in the Variety Women’s Impact Report for her work in film. Sonam said that her privileged position gave her a safety net, which made it easier for her to take on risky roles. Sonam has been coming to Cannes for 9 years. When I asked if the fact that more actors are now walking the red carpet here makes it more competitive and harder to stand out, she said it was never about standing out. She said you have to feel good in your clothes and that will enable you to shine.
I also chatted with Aishwarya right after she finished walking the red carpet. This trip was a real whirlwind with too much crammed into 48 hours but she looked radiant. She confirmed that she will be doing Mani Ratnam’s next film, which she described as going ‘back to school.’ Shooting is likely to begin by the end of the year. Starting with her debut film Iruvar, Aishwarya has consistently done some of her best work with Mani (remember Guru) so this is something to look forward to. When I asked how Aaradhya was coping with the constant media attention, she said that she and Abhishek have always told each other to keep it real and that is what they are doing with their daughter as well!
Tomorrow is my last day in Cannes. I will admit that festival fatigue is setting in and I’m starting to resemble one of the zombies from Jim Jarmusch’s The Dead don’t Die. But it’s a good look.