When it comes to fashion, it doesn't seem to take a lot for Aishwarya Rai Bachchan to get it all wrong. So if you thought nothing more could give you the blues than last year's purple lips, the actress rose like a Phoenix to outperform that disaster and even the backdrop of the glorious blue waters could not save the bizarre vision in black.
It can't be about taking your fandom for granted. The Cannes Film Festival is a large canvass for prospective or past talent. The media has been predictably flattering, talking about how the diva was no less than a Black Swan who owned the festival. But these generous reports are expected; unlike in the West, it is very rare that a celebrity gets gutted for her attire. On the contrary, even if we can do better, we must all follow Kareena Kapoor's pregnancy style from now on.
So what some of us saw was a princess dress that would look better at a school prom and later, when she was putatively "burning the red carpet", we had to squint while struggling to figure out where the dress ended and the carpet began. All this though should be irrelevant.
Last I checked, this was a film festival that showcases different genres of cinema from around the world. Instead, for the second year running, despite our Bollywood industry that churns out films faster than our fashion world delivers designers, not a single film has made the cut. Yet, forget questioning why we always fall short when back home movies are now entering the 200-crore club, there is not even a side paragraph on some of the acclaimed films at the festival. It's a bit like obsessing about the cheerleaders at the IPL instead of the game on the ground.
Actresses walking the red carpet at a film festival for a cosmetics brand are performing "only" as models, and there is no wrong in being one - especially a stupendously-paid one. But our stars like to pretend otherwise. There may have been a special screening of Devdas, but 15 years later living off the accolades of that movie sound a bit desperate.
We, though, are responsible for the hype around this festival. Maybe it's the romance of the riviera, but you can sell us glamour even if it is Sonam Kapoor's take on the sari that is too boring even to wear for a school PTM. A designer friend was less forgiving, insisting that Sonam still believed she was on the sets of her movie Prem Ratan Dhan Payo.
"I haven't taken any pressure this year," Sonam says. We wished she had because if the only talent you have come to showcase at a film festival is your dress, it would be nice to get it right.
It seems that many Indians at Cannes over the years consciously stay away from wearing anything too "Indian", but like Nandita Das showed, it is easy to slay in a simple sari. Deepika Padukone could have aced it too, but instead, as she normally does, found it easier to merge, more awed at being there herself than anything else. That mustard dress. Those sleeves. I guess we get what we google for.
Which brings us to Mallika Sherawat, the farthest thing from Bollywood royalty or award-winning roles. Like Ms. Bachchan, she has been walking the red carpet for more than a decade, but unlike the others, has never even tried to hide her tacky outfits behind any significant body of work. A selfie with Monica Bellucci, a few parties, some sun-bathing and then jetting back home.
She could argue credibly that it's possibly no different for the others - the three big Bollywood actresses at the festival don't have a single movie to promote between themselves - although networking is hard work too. So, instead of some profound words about showcasing our film industry, they should just accept that it's a lovely mother-daughter bonding holiday in a gorgeous place and carry on.
Glamour-struck that we are, we will only approve. Unlike some, we succumb to pressure.
(Jyotsna Mohan Bhargava worked with NDTV for more than a decade and now writes on a variety of topics for several news organisations.)
Disclaimer: The opinions expressed within this article are the personal opinions of the author. The facts and opinions appearing in the article do not reflect the views of NDTV and NDTV does not assume any responsibility or liability for the same.