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This is the first Indian film to win the highest honour at Cannes, and it was directed by Dev Anand's brother

by Shailee Mishra

Date & Time: May 06, 2022 11:00 PM

Read Time: 2 minute

As we get closer to the world-famous Cannes Film Festival, which will take place in France from May 17 to 28, cinephiles across India will be anticipating the presence of their favourite films and superstars.

Indian cinema have made their impact on this world stage over the years
The Oeil d'or (Golden Eye) prize for best documentary went to indie director Payal Kapadia's 'A Night of Knowing Nothing' last year.
'The Lunchbox,' starring Irrfan Khan, received the Critics Week Viewer’s Choice Award, also known as the Grand Rail d'Or in 2013, while director Mira Nair won the Camera d'Or (best debut feature film) and the Audience Prize at the Cannes Film Festival in 1998 for 'Salaam Bombay.'

The 'Prix du document humain' was awarded to Ray's classic 1955 film 'Pather Panchali' at the 9th Cannes Film Festival.
Ray, on the other hand, was inspired to produce his debut film by another masterpiece, Chetan Anand's 'Neecha Nagar' (1946), which was the first Indian film to win the Grand Prix du Festival International du Film (now called Palme d'Or) at Cannes in 1946.
After all, the Palme d'Or was first awarded in 1955. Here's the backstory to this incredible film

Social realism as a source of inspiration
Balraj Sahni, a legendary stage and film actor, recalls in his autobiography the first time Chetan Anand mentioned his plans to direct a film, back in 1943 in Bombay (Mumbai).
"You know, I'm not particularly interested in acting. What I want to do is make a film that is both realistic and purposeful. Neecha Nagar is what I've decided to call it.
I intend to depict the economic struggle of our society's various classes in it, and I will not make any concessions to the box office.

In fact, I am currently working on its scenario," Anand explained
Both Sahni and Anand were members of the Indian People's Theatre Association (IPTA), a left-wing cultural organisation that had a significant impact on early Indian cinema.
The IPTA, along with other alumni such as actor Prithviraj Kapoor, filmmaker Bimal Roy, poet and lyricist Sahir Ludhianvi, and film music composer Salil Chowdhury, aimed to promote themes related to the Indian freedom struggle while also attempting to bring about a cultural awakening among Indian masses through art stepped in social realism.
Khwaja Ahmad Abbas, one of Neecha Nagar's co-writers, once wrote a letter to MK Gandhi in 1939 pleading with him to "give this little toy of ours, the cinema, which is not so useless as it looks, a little of your attention." The film's other co-writer, Hayatullah Ansari, founder of the Urdu daily Qaumi Awaz, however, was inspired by Russian dramatist Maxim Gorky's 1902 play 'The Lower Depths.'
The film's production began in 1945 on a shoestring budget, thanks to producers Rashid Anwar and Chetan Anand, who was also the director. This was a year when the freedom movement was at its peak and nationalist sentiment was strong among many Indians.

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