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Anasuya Sengupta makes history as first Indian to win top acting award in Cannes 2024

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Anasuya Sengupta made history on Friday night by becoming the first Indian to win a top acting award at the Cannes Film Festival. The actress, who has primarily worked as a production designer in Mumbai and resides in Goa, received the Best Actress award in the Un Certain Regard segment of the festival.

Sengupta’s award-winning performance was in Bulgarian director Constantin Bojanov’s film, The Shameless, which also stars the renowned actress Mita Vashist. The film, which was shot over one and a half months in India and Nepal, features Sengupta in a gritty role.

Her voice shaking with emotion, and drawing repeated cheers and applause, she ended her short acceptance speech by saying, “We don’t need to be colonized to know how very, very pathetic colonizers are.”

Interestingly, Bojanov, an acclaimed director and a Facebook friend of Sengupta, unexpectedly asked her to send an audition tape, marking the beginning of her acting career.

Sengupta born in Kolkata, in West Bengal state of India had previously worked as the production designer for Srijit Mukherjee’s Forget Me Not in Netflix’s 2021 Satyajit Ray anthology and the series Masaba Masaba.

 

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In The Shameless, Sengupta portrays Renuka, a vagabond who seeks refuge in a northern Indian community of sex workers after fleeing Delhi, where she is charged with murder. The film’s narrative centers on Renuka’s illicit love affair with a teenager named Devika, played by Omara Shetty. Devika is initially protected from entering sex work due to her physical ailments, but this protection does not last long.

Upon receiving the award, an emotional and visibly shaking Sengupta dedicated it to “the queer community and other marginalized communities for so bravely fighting a fight they really shouldn’t have to”. Her acceptance speech, filled with emotion, drew repeated cheers and applause from the audience.

This landmark achievement for Anasuya Sengupta not only marks a significant milestone in her career but also shines a spotlight on the diverse and compelling stories emerging from Indian cinema.

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