Who Is Konstantin Bojanov? Know All About Bulgarian Director Behind India's Cannes Sensation

Who Is Konstantin Bojanov? Know All About Bulgarian Director Behind India's Cannes Sensation

Bojanov, 55, is a visual artist who first graduated from the National School of Fine Arts

IANSUpdated: Saturday, May 25, 2024, 02:04 PM IST
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Konstantin Bojanov |

Konstantin Bojanov, who? This is the question raging in the minds of people who woke up on Saturday to the heart-warming news that a production designer-turned-newbie actress discovered by Bojanov had become the first Indian to win a major acting prize in the 77-year history of the Cannes Film Festival.

Bojanov, 55, is a visual artist who first graduated from the National School of Fine Arts in his home city, Sofia (Bulgaria), before earning a Master's degree from the Royal College of Art, London. He made his first feature film, 'Ave', in 2011. Based on a story about heroin addicts in Sofia, the film had its world premiere at Cannes and then it went on to win a Young Talent Award (Hamburg), Special Jury Prize (Sarajevo) and the FIRPRESCI Prize in Warsaw.

Bojanov made his second film, 'Light Thereafter', starring the acclaimed Irish actor Barry Koeghan, in 2017 and it was shortlisted for competition at the International Film Festival Rotterdam.

In an interview with the Festival du Cannes on 'The Shameless', the film that has catapulted Anasuya Sengupta into the day's headlines, Bojanov said he fell in love with moving pictures because of the movies that he would skip classes to watch at the arthouse cinema close to his college. "I really wanted to make films, but I did not know how, so I started writing stories," Bojanov said. "I am a self-taught filmmaker." "The adventure of 'The Shameless'," as Bojanov puts it, began 12 years ago when he started filming a documentary with four distinct stories from William Dalrymple's 'Nine Lives'.

Through these stories, Bojanov said, "I sought to explore a number of themes, including love, sexuality, free will and artistic expression, within the confines of castes and the religious beliefs of present-day India." Bojanov continued, "In 2014, I began filming the first of these stories, centered around the life of Reshma, a 32-year-old devadasi sex worker from northern Karnataka. The close bond between Reshma and another sex worker, Renuka, inspired me to create a fictional love story between a woman on the run from the law and a young girl born into the devadasi system.

Reshma's beginnings also influenced the character of the young girl, Devika." In 'The Shameless' Anasuya plays the fictional character Renuka (chain-smoking, foul-mouthed, lesbian, who takes to sex work just to get by) inspired by Reshma. For Devika, Bojanov settled for Omara Shetty, who was last seen in a bit role in the 2021 Katrina Kaif-Ishaan Khattar-Siddhant Chaturvedi film, 'Phone Bhoot', after seeing a photograph of her hugging a puppy.

For Bojanov, it was the casting process that turned out to be the most exacting. As he told Festival du Cannes, it took him eight months to complete it, and though he was looking at other actresses to play Renuka, he kept returning to the pictures of Anasuya, who is his Facebook friend. "It was more than just her appearance; it was her attitude too," Bojanov said. "I knew that she was primarily a production designer.

Nonetheless, I took a chance and asked her if she was interested in the role." He was happy to find out his hunch was right. "It took [Anasuya] over a month to send me her [audition] tape, but as soon as I saw it on screen, I knew I did not need to look any further," Bojanov said with a sense of relief.

Describing Anasuya play Renuka in 'The Shameless', 'Variety' comments, "It's an impeccably, self-assured performance, rife with enrapturing nuances that create a liberating sense of queer Indian femininity seldom depicted on screen." When asked what he would want people to remember from the film, Bojanov shared his vision with Festival du Cannes: "That storytelling can transcend cultural boundaries and reveal the shared humanity beneath our societal disparities."

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