Cannes’ Bollywood Pioneers: Remembering The Hinduja Legacy

By Pickle  May 12, 2024
Cannes’ Bollywood Pioneers: Remembering The Hinduja Legacy, Pickle Media

From introducing iconic directors to the international stage to hosting legendary Bollywood gatherings overlooking the Croisette, the legacy of the Hindujas is synonymous with bridging continents and cultures in the world of cinema

Cannes has always been regarded as the Mecca of World Cinema. An equivalent to an Oscar, it is the dream of every filmmaker to be invited to this Mecca and showcase one’s talent to the who’s who of the world of Cinema.

TO INTRODUCE INDIAN CINEMA AND ITS CINE STARS TO THE CANNES FILM FESTIVAL, IN 1973, THE HINDUJA BROTHERS BEGAN HOSTING THE INDIAN FILM INDUSTRY STALWARTS ALONG WITH THE INTERNATIONAL ERUDITE AUDIENCE OF THE WORLD CINEMA WHO ANNUALLY GATHER THERE, AT VILLA PARADISE, THEIR HOME IN CANNES

The Indian Film Industry, perhaps the largest in the world when measured by the number of films produced annually, is over a century old. Yet for a Global South country, back in the 1950s, to make a mark in Cannes was considered the stuff of lifetimes ahead until the band of Hinduja Brothers, led by the Late Mr SP Hinduja and GP Hinduja arrived on the scene.

Today the Hindi Cinema, popularly referred to as Bollywood, is famous the world over. With the Indian diaspora settled abroad in millions, they form a ready and profitable market for all come to be taken for granted, was not so 60-70 years ago.

The Hinduja Brothers believed in the potential of Indian Cinema to be the biggest cultural ambassador of India. The 1200 Indian Films they financed, edited, dubbed and released overseas went on to establish the foundation of Indian cinematic footprint in the world cinema. They put in their hard-earned money with bucketloads of sweat, with the youngest brother, Ashok Hinduja, managing the dubbing and editing studio operations, to seed many of the global fields which were then arid for Indian Films – from Iran and the Middle East to Israel to London – eventually creating an oasis that today gives leafy refuge to many young creative directors who continue to come by the dozen. What is most remarkable, the brothers, who inherited a thriving trading operation then, did this ONLY to promote Indian Culture, never for profit: an intuitive attempt to sell the ‘Made in India’ label abroad.

They even had the foresight to bring Bollywood to Cannes! Raj Kapoor’s magnum opus “Sangam” was even screened at Cannes. So successful was the film’s run, back then, in the UK and Europe, that Hindujas named their London Corporate Office after it – Sangam Ltd.

To introduce Indian Cinema and its cine stars to the Cannes Film Festival, in 1973, the Hinduja Brothers began hosting the Indian Film Industry stalwarts along with the international erudite audience of the world cinema who annually gather there, at Villa Paradise, their home in Cannes. Best, per the long-standing tradition of the Hinduja Family, the global cinematic fraternity is served pure vegetarian spread, and the dinner party is now an inseparable part of the social calendar of the Festival. Prakash Hinduja, the 3rd of the Hinduja Brothers, hosts these parties every year. Many Indian Cinestars, from yesteryear’s great Dev Anand to Aishwarya Rai, Shahrukh Khan to AR Rahman have graced their parties at Cannes.

The Indian Film Industry, perhaps the largest in the world when measured by the number of films produced annually, is over a century old. Yet for a Global South country, back in the 1950s, to make a mark in Cannes was considered the stuff of lifetimes ahead until the band of Hinduja Brothers, led by the Late Mr SP Hinduja and GP Hinduja arrived on the scene.

Sanjay Jumani, nephew of SP Hinduja and a stalwart from Sunstone, Entertainment brings over three decades of experience in marketing and distributing films worldwide. He’s here at the festival this year to curate content for OTT platforms and secure cable rights for the upcoming year.

This simple but long-standing gesture has strengthened and celebrated the growing Indo- French bilateral ties. And the Hindujas proudly carry on this tradition to date.

NURTURING INDIA’S RED CARPETS AND REEL DREAMS

• Hinduja’s journey unfolds across prestigious institutions like Cambridge and Columbia University, revealing a deep spirituality rooted in his forefathers’ religiosity. His private nature is underscored by a commitment to meditation and prayer, seeking answers along the sacred banks of the Ganges and in solemn rituals. Esteemed spiritual leaders, from the Dalai Lama to Swami Shankar Acharya, recognized and respected his spiritual pursuits.
• His endeavors garnered appreciation from figures like the Archbishop of Canterbury, reflecting Hinduja’s universal acceptance and positive impact. Beyond spirituality, Hinduja embraced his creative side, earning accolades from Hollywood moguls and becoming a driving force in global cinema. With over 1200 films under his belt, including collaborations with Bollywood legends, his influence reshaped the entertainment landscape, bridging continents and cultures.
• The Hinduja’s impact extends beyond the realms of spirituality and cinema. Last year at Cannes, they unveiled a book, further cementing their legacy as cultural patrons. Their influence in Bollywood is profound, having introduced illustrious directors like Sanjay Leela Bhansali, Vidhu Vinod Chopra, and the esteemed Raj Kapoor family to the prestigious festival. Other luminaries, including Yash Johar and Subhash Ghai, also owe their Cannes debut to Hinduja’s guidance and support. Film Director Jerome P. and Swiss festival curator Nadia Dresti fondly recall the delightful Indian cuisine served at the Hinduja villa, a testament to their hospitality and commitment to fostering cultural exchange amidst the glitz and glamour of the Croisette.

Write a Reply or Comment

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *