The actor-filmmaker, who has attended the Cannes Film Festival five times, looks forward to launching the poster of his next production there this year.
He had a world premiere of his film Mantostaan in 2016, the next year he took, Side A and Side B, in 2018, he launched the first look of Lihaaf, and in 2019, Hina Khan-starrer Lines. He says, “We got a fabulous response for the film that starred Raghubir Yadav, Virendra Saxena, and Sonal Sehgal etc. Later we sold it to a popular OTT platform. Side A and Side B, about ban on cinema halls in Kashmir, got acclaim at festivals though didn’t do well commercially. Lihaaf, starring Tannishtha Chatterjee, had a co-producer from France, and the film did well. Then came Lines with Hina Khan. Hamara bahut achcha rishta ban gaya hai Cannes se.”
Kazmi adds that Cannes is the right platform for films that have an international appeal, including ones which are independent films and “one meets filmmakers from all over the world”. “Often when one makes a film with a studio, the stakes are higher and they stick to a formula as they don’t want to take risk with their money. After Mantostan, we have collaborated with makers from France, UK, Singapore and US and we have made films which we want to make, ones that have a voice.”
He took TV star Hina Khan with his film to the Cannes film festival and he is proud of her achievements. “She proved to be a versatile actor. We worked really hard on Lines. Later, showcasing the first look at Cannes and seeing her on the red carpet made me teary eyed. She made quite the splash on the Cannes red carpet. And now (TV celeb) Helly Shah will be there for the poster launch of our film. I feel, A-listers and popular stars have many avenues to reach international platforms and often it doesn’t matter as much to them as they are garner promotion and money through box office and ads. But the passionate celebs like Hina and Helly have, who have made a name on TV are amazing. Such actors need to get exposure and be seen in international cinema.”
Kazmi calls Cannes the biggest festival of cinema in the world, thanks “Priyanka Chopra and others who have broken the stereotype and paved a path for others to follow internationally”. What he loves about Cannes is that one can see “cinema evolve as filmmakers across the world experiment and come together to showcase their work”. “People recognise good work and we have collaborated with many filmmakers for our films. This year, it is extra special as India is being honoured,” he ends.