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Ali Fazal calls out FTII’s “hypocrisy” in celebrating Payal Kapadia’s Grand Prix win at Cannes 2024 amid court case: “Uhhh… please don’t”

Indian actor Ali Fazal joined the ongoing debate by criticizing the Film and Television Institute of India (FTII) for celebrating filmmaker Payal Kapadia’s historic Grand Prix win at the Cannes Film Festival. On Sunday, FTII’s official social media account expressed pride in its alumni, Payal Kapadia and Chidanand Naik, for their achievements at Cannes

Kapadia’s film, All We Imagine as Light, secured the prestigious Grand Prix, while Naik’s short film, Sunflowers Were The First Ones To Know, won the La Cinef Award for Best Short. FTII’s post declared it a “moment of pride” and cherished the “glorious achievements” of their alumni. The caption read, “It is a moment of pride for FTII as its Alumni create history at Cannes. As we witness a phenomenal year for Indian Cinema at 77th Cannes Film Festival, FTII cherishes the glorious achievements of its Alumni at this Mega International Stage of Cinema.”

However, Ali Fazal wasn’t impressed. He reposted FTII’s message with a blunt response, “Uhhh… please don’t. Just don’t.”

For unversed, as per several reports, in 2015, Kapadia, then a student at FTII, took a strong stance as she led a student protest against the appointment of Gajendra Chauhan, an actor-turned-politician, as the institute’s president. The student body argued that Chauhan lacked the necessary academic and artistic credentials to head a prestigious film school.

Disciplinary action was taken against Kapadia and other students. Pune Police filed a chargesheet against 35 students, including Kapadia, for allegedly holding the then-director, Prashant Pathrabe, captive in his office. Scholarships were also withheld from some students involved in the protests.

In 2017, FTII, under a new director, Bhupendra Kainthola, seemed to acknowledge the past. A letter of support was issued to Kapadia, and the institute even covered her travel expenses to the Cannes Film Festival for the screening of her short film, Afternoon Clouds. However, the case is still ongoing in court, with the next hearing scheduled for June 2024. Interestingly, Kapadia’s recent win at the Cannes Film Festival has brought renewed attention to the ongoing legal case.

According to a report in Deadline, Kapadia’s All We Imagine as Light received an 8-minute standing ovation at the premiere. The film was shot over a period of 40 days, capturing the essence of late summer in Mumbai before transitioning to the rainy coastal town of Ratnagiri. The report further states that All We Imagine As Light is a French-Indian co-production, in collaboration with Paris-based producers Hakim and Julien Graff (Petit Chaos) and Zico Maitra of Mumbai’s Chalk & Cheese Films.

Not only did the film receive a roaring standing ovation, but the red carpet was a joyous affair with the entire team – Ranabir Das, Julien Graff, Hridhu Haroon, Chhaya Kadam, Divya Prabha, Payal Kapadia, Kani Kusruti, Zico Maitra, and Thomas Hakim – dancing and celebrating together..

As per the official Cannes website, the film, presented in both Malayalam and Hindi, follows the lives of Nurse Prabha’s life in Mumbai which is disrupted by a surprise gift from her estranged husband. The unexpected gesture throws her routine into disarray. Sharing a cramped apartment with her younger roommate, Anu, tensions rise as Anu desperately searches for a private space to be with her boyfriend. The city offers no solace, forcing them to dream of escape. A weekend trip to a quieter beach town finally grants Anu the intimacy she craves. Freed from the constraints of Mumbai, their desires find a way to blossom under the open sky.

Payal Kapadia gained international recognition with her 2021 documentary A Night of Knowing Nothing, which premiered in the Director’s Fortnight section at Cannes and went on to win the Golden Eye for best documentary.

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