Cannes is like pilgrimage for an actor: Sonal Sehgal

Mumbai, May 14 (IANS) Actress Sonal Sehgal, who is making her debut at the ongoing Cannes International Film Festival with her film “Mantostaan”, says the extravaganza is like a pilgrimage for an actor.

Asked about how it feels to represent the country’s cinema at Cannes with her film, Sonal told IANS in an email interview: “I am absolutely ecstatic! It is a wish fulfilled… A dream come true. Cannes is like a pilgrimage for an actor. Everybody needs to do it at least once in their career.”

She describes the experience as “amazing”, as well as “exactly and more than what I had imagined it to be”.

“The whole place is buzzing with creative energies. Getting to meet talented directors, writers and producers from all over the world leaves you with a high,” said Sonal, who has featured in films like “Radio” and “Aashayein”.

Her new film “Mantostaan” is directed by Rahat Kazmi, and deals with the issue of India-Pakistan partition.

Talking more about the movie, she said: “‘Mantostaan’ is a screen adaptation of Saadat Hassan Manto’s stories… Who, by the way, I’m a huge fan of. I play the character of Kalwant Kaur from his most controversial story ‘Thanda Gosht’. When published in 1950, the story met with such ire, that Manto was thrown into jail.”

“I play a feisty ‘sardarni’ in the film. There are many layers to my character. You can’t define it in black or white. Circumstance has made her morals questionable, yet she loves with all her heart and consumed with jealousy ends up killing her lover. Like all of us, she has a sheen and a very dark side,” she added.

Sonal also feels the taste of Indian audience is changing and they are ready to accept these kinds of films.

“I believe good cinema clicks everywhere in the world. You just need to find your audience. Indian audience is slowly changing their taste. But the kind of response we have got abroad, we know the world is ready for this kind of cinema from India,” she said.

Now she hopes that the movie gets a commercial release.

“Saadat Hassan Manto left behind a huge legacy and therefore he has a massive fan following. He is the ‘star’ of our film who will ensure box office success. I think once you have garnered enough ‘street credit’ or stellar reviews from the festival circuit, commercial release becomes easy… A case in point being ‘The Lunchbox’.

“Mantostaan’ will be screened at the Cannes Film Festival on Saturday.

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