MAY 16 | MUMBAI
8:00 pm: I receive a last minute invitation from Dr L Murugan, Minister of State for Information & Broadcasting, Fisheries, Animal Husbandry and Dairying, Government of India, to join him and the FICCI contingent at Cannes. He has a special request — can I bring my dear friend, Michael Douglas, to the Indian Pavilion? Michael had just won the Honorary Palme d’Or, the festival’s highest honor, and I am thrilled at the opportunity to be with him to celebrate.
9:00 pm: Knowing what a busy man Michael is, I send him an email marked ‘URGENT, but for fun!’, extending the invitation to join us. I may be wrong, but this might be the first time where an international cinema icon, as legendary as Hollywood’s ultimate leading man, would be visiting the Indian Pavilion.
9:10 pm: Michael responds saying that he is excited to see me, that I must join him for his celebratory lunch with friends and family, and ‘yes’, he would be delighted to meet at the India Pavilion at 11:30 am on the 18th. I savour my friend’s affection, and I share the good news with the Hon’ble Minister and FICCI.
11:59 pm: I am on way to Cannes.
MAY 17 | CANNES
11:00 am: Lunch hosted by Honorable Minister along with a few of the notable, and super cool, India@Cannes contingent. Have an interactive and explosive conversation about movies with Aman Gupta — co-Founder and CMO of boAt and Shark Tank judge. We discuss a highly innovative, next level, branded film for boAt. We hatch a global cinema deal for a franchise of Kumar Mangat — Ajay Devgn’s manager, founder of Panorama Studios and film producer. Manushi Chillar — Miss World 2007, Khushbu — politician, actress and producer, and Bobby Bedi — producer of Bandit Queen join in a conversation about future of Indian cinema. Not to mention that some South Indian actors and directors are in attendance... Madhur Bhandarkar and me rehash our long, storied, filmmaking history together.
1:30 pm: I spend the remaining day browsing through the Marché du Film. The absolute sucker for emotional, honest, entertaining stories that resonate through my whole being — impactful stories that transcend any boundaries that we imagine cinema to have and inspire me — no, compel me... to make them. It is also good to see our new generation stars walking down the red carpet and make heads turn. Some making their debut at Cannes.
MAY 18 | CANNES
11:30 am: Michael arrives at the Indian Pavilion and I embrace him a long awaited, familial hug. I introduce him to the Minister and Prithul Kumar — Joint Secretary, Films, I&B Ministry. We sit on the dais and have some fun. Michael reminisces about his last trip to visit me in Mumbai, with his wife, Catherine Zeta-Jones, and tells the media that everyone should watch Unplugged in Mumbai (2022) — the unplugged cinema I made about the friendship that transcends geographic location. We reminisce about the time we met, when Michael and I travelled across India to secure the logistics for Racing the Monsoon, the threequel to Romancing the Stone (1984) and Jewel of the Nile (1985). Michael surprises everyone in attendance when he says, “Racing the Monsoon may still be alive, and hopefully we can still do it. If Shailendra makes the film, I will do it.” I have never given up on the dream of working together to make that film, hopefully, this time, with the support of the Indian government.
12:30 pm. Monaco: There is a frenzy of excited fans wanting photographs, as Michael and I hop into the Cannes electric BMW and ride through the thick forests to Monaco. Poolside, at the palatial villa of one of Michael’s good friends, we finally celebrate the incredible honor of the Palme d’Or that he we was bestowed. I am truly blessed to meet some seriously gifted, global cinema directors, writers, artists, and especially, of course, Catherine Zeta-Jones and her incredibly talented daughter, Carys Douglas. It’s fun time away from the paparazzi.
5:30 pm. Cannes: The man, the myth, the legend, Jeremy Thomas, offers to drive me back to Cannes. The Academy Award winning producer of The Last Emperor (1987), A Dangerous Method (2011), Kon-Tiki (2012), and one my personal favorites, Sexy Beast (2000) — with Ben Kingsley and the boulder (if you know, you know!) — passionately, with a childlike wonder, converses about cinema the entire drive. I am absolutely enthralled.
6:30 pm: I meet and share a brief conversation with Hollywood’s heroine, Katie Holmes and connect with our own Aishwarya Rai Bachchan. Despite all the trolling, she continues to rule the red carpet at Cannes with her million-dollar looks. We catch up on our past adventures ofworking together, while the onlookers wonder what’s up.
11:30 pm: I am on my way back to Mumbai.
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