Over the years, the red carpet has become synonymous with glitz and glamour. If one were to consider the history of plush red carpet events, it has always been a gateway to something exclusive and unattainable. So when celebrities saunter into celebrated film festivals, they must look their dazzling best. It’s a tradition, and it’s essential. The grand entrance adds to the event's exclusivity – giving the audience at home or otherwise a glimpse into a seemingly A-list event.
The paparazzi clicks scores of photographs from varied angles as celebrities pose with big smiles, looking impeccable, not a hair out of place. And so many buy into the expertly orchestrated entrance. Perhaps the temptation to see them in all their fashionable glory ensues from the mystery surrounding them and the desire to know more about them. Whatever the reason is – designers, actors and stylists have made a career out of such events.
What a celebrity wears is of umpteenth importance in film festivals. It stands true for many such events – even more so for the Cannes. The Indian media has often drawn light to a celebrity’s ensemble rather than the film screening or competition held during the festival. And many actors have expressed their disappointment for that very reason.
Shabana Azmi to Deepika Padukone, the latter being a jury member this year, have attempted to drive the conversation more towards the films screened rather than the clothes – but to no avail.
The chic outfits donned by Indian celebrities seem to be the heart of the conversation during Cannes. Perhaps because for years, many mainstream Indian actors were the brand ambassador of the French cosmetic giant L’Oreal. So it was only fair that they look stunning while endorsing the brand. But interestingly, eight other artistes from the industry have already been part of the jury at Cannes, yet it has failed to grab headlines.
‘Deepika Looks Chic In Black’ or ‘Deepika Looks Her Sultry Best’ becomes the talk of the town. Her other achievements remain overshadowed. Not to say, the focus on haute couture should be secondary to films. It is a deliberate part of the exclusive event. But it certainly shouldn’t be the central discussion – especially when it’s a film festival which will potentially screen some path-breaking cinema.
But India, with its love for masala films, isn’t exactly the target audience for highbrow cinema. We can simply look at the stories that have garnered box-office success– they are all around chest-thumping heroes with a penchant for dialogue-baazi. And even if there is an audience for indie films, it’s negligible.
A peek into those glitzy ensembles, on the other hand, allows an avenue to replicate the unattainable. Online portals often embed links to cheaper knock-offs to replicate a look. A fan goes to the local tailor to sew out an affordable version of the same outfit. So Cannes and India’s obsession with the glamour of Indian celebrities is not uncalled for – it’s natural. It’s good marketing, as consumers wait with bated breath to either buy the real deal or a similar product.
Surprisingly, it’s only during the Oscars that film and glamour are given importance in equal measure. And it’s also the only award ceremony which sees an immediate mass production of celebrity outfit knock offs globally. In India, iconic looks are highlighted through outfits in films or celebrity weddings.
Cannes seems to be one of the only global event where, over the years, mainstream Indian celebrities get invited to endorse a particular brand, L’Oreal, and the focus on the outfits has perhaps stayed on despite other achievements.
Earlier, red carpets for film premiers were the only way the public could catch a glimpse of their favourite stars. Times have changed, and social media has made it possible for fans to stay more connected to their favourite celebrities – yet the mystery is still alive. Not everything is on social media – it’s a censored reality. And with the culture of Indian movies being star-centric rather than story focused, it’s no wonder that the glam of Cannes takes over its cinema.