For decades, Indian films have been a part of the Cannes Film Festival. As the world’s most glamorous film festival returns, let’s take a look back at the best Indian films that have received international acclaim at the Cannes Film Festival over the years-

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Best of Indian cinema at Cannes-

Neecha Nagar’ 1946

Chetan Anand’s film ‘Neecha Nagar’ was the first Indian film to bag the top prize at Cannes, the Grand Prix du Festival International du Film (Palme d’Or) in 1946.

The film is based on a short story of the same name, highlighted the disparities between the rich and the poor in Indian society. While competing against ten other films, Neecha Nagar was named the winner of the Cannes Film Festival.

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‘Do Bigha Zameen’ 1954

This film tells the story of a poor farmer who fails to repay his debts and then works as a rickshaw puller in Kolkata to make ends meet. ‘Do Bigha Zameen’, starring Nirupa Roy and Balraj Sahani, won the prestigious Prix Internationale at the 1954 Cannes Film Festival.

‘Boot Polish’ 1954

This film is about two kids who decide to work hard for money by polishing shoes. The film was a hit at the Cannes Film Festival, and child actress Naaz received a Special Distinction Award for her performance. Prakash Arora directed and Raj Kapoor produced this film.

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‘Pather Panchali’ 1955

This film is primarily concerned with depicting poverty in rural Bengal. Pather Panchali was the first film in The Apu Trilogy, starring Subir Banerjee, Kanu Banerjee, Karuna Banerjee, Uma Dasgupta, Pinaki Sengupta, and Chunibala Devi. The Indian Bengali-language epic drama, directed by Satyajit Ray, won the Palme d’Or for Best Human Document at the Cannes Film Festival.

‘Kharij’ 1982

In 1983, ‘Kharij’ received the Special Jury Prize at the Cannes Film Festival. The plot of Kharij revolves around the unintentional death of an underage servant and the consequences for those who hired him. Mrinal Sen directed this film, which starred Anjan Dutt, Mamata Shankar, Sreela Majumdar, Gita Sen, and Sunil Mukherjee.

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‘Salaam Bombay’ 1988

In 1988, ‘Salaam Bombay’ won the Camera d’Or and the Audience Prize at Cannes. This depicts the daily lives of children living in Bombay’s slums. Mira Nair directed this film, which starred Shafiq Syed, Raghuvir Yadav, Irrfan Khan, Anita Kanwar, Nana Patekar, Hansa Vithal, and Chanda Sharma.

‘Marana Simhasanam’ 1999

This Malayalam film won the Camera d’Or at the 1999 Cannes Film Festival. This film, directed by Murali Nair, stars Vishwas Njavakkal, Lakshmi Raman, Suhas Thayat, and Jeevan Mitva. ‘Marana Simhasanam’ tells the story of India’s first electrocution execution.

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‘The Lunchbox’ 2013

‘The Lunchbox’ premiered at the 2013 Cannes Film Festival and went on to win the Critics Week Viewers Choice Award, also known as the Grand Rail d’Or. This film, directed by Ritesh Batra and starring Irrfan Khan, Nimrat Kaur, and Nawazuddin Siddiqui, is about an economically dependent woman who seeks love from her husband and cooks delicious meals for his tiffin every day.

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‘A Night of Knowing Nothing’ 2021

At the 74th Cannes Film Festival, this film received the Oeil d’or (Golden Eye) award for best documentary. ‘A Night of Knowing Nothing,’ directed by Payal Kapadia, follows the life of a university student in India who writes letters to her estranged lover while he is away.