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Smita Patil starring classic ‘Manthan’ to be showcased at Cannes Film Festival 2024

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The 77th edition of the ongoing Cannes Film Festival will witness a significant milestone for Indian cinema as Shyam Benegal’s classic film Manthan is set to be screened during a prestigious gala on Friday at Salle Bunuel. This marks a momentous occasion for Indian cinema on a global stage.

Manthan, featuring the late actor Smita Patil, is the only Indian film selected under the Cannes Classics section of the festival this year. The film also stars Naseeruddin Shah, Girish Karnad, Kulbhushan Kharbanda, Mohan Agashe, Anant Nag, and Amrish Puri among others.

The film, inspired by the pioneering milk cooperative movement led by Dr. Verghese Kurien, the father of the White Revolution in India, was produced by five lakh dairy farmers of the Gujarat Cooperative Milk Marketing Federation (GCMMF), known for its Amul brand.

Remarkably, Manthan was the first crowd-funded Indian film, financed entirely by 500,000 farmers who contributed INR 2 each. Kurien, along with Vijay Tendulkar, co-wrote the script for the movie.

Manthan won two National Film Awards in 1977: Best Feature Film in Hindi and Best Screenplay for Tendulkar. It was also India’s official entry to the 1976 Academy Awards in the Best Foreign Language Film category.

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The premiere of the restored version of Manthan at Cannes will be attended by Naseeruddin Shah, the family of the late Smita Patil, the producers of the film, and Shivendra Singh Dungarpur from the Film Heritage Foundation.

Regarding the film’s screening at Cannes, Shyam Benegal expressed his delight, stating, “I was absolutely delighted when Shivendra told me that Film Heritage Foundation was going to restore ‘Manthan’ in collaboration with the Gujarat Milk Marketing Federation Ltd. Manthan is a film that is very close to my heart as it was funded by 500,000 farmers and was instrumental in the growth of an extraordinary cooperative movement aimed at breaking the shackles of economic inequality and caste discrimination whilst empowering the farmers.”

He added, “It will remind the world of the power of cinema as a vehicle of change and also the legacy of the great Verghese Kurien, the Father of the White Revolution. Govind Nihalani and I have been following the progress of the restoration closely and I am amazed by the meticulous approach to the restoration. It is wonderful to see the film come back to life almost like we made it yesterday. Film Heritage Foundation has been doing remarkable work in film restoration. Not only are they beautifully restoring films from every region of India, but bringing them back to the public at festivals and screenings around the world in a way that showcases our unique film heritage to contemporary global audiences.”

The Cannes Film Festival 2024 opened on May 14 and will continue until May 25.

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