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Paris goes to Pink City

NARESH GULATI

Jaipur got a whiff of French cinema with the recent Festival of French Films

It took the Jaipur chapter of the Indo-French Cultural Society almost five years to repeat its feat of hosting a Festival of French films. Screened at the city's Jawahar Kala Kendra recently, the Festival is also travelling to other Alliance Francaise chapters in India.

What seemed an extension of the strategic mission pursued by the French agencies like Unifrance International to export French films to Brazil, India and Morocco, where the French cinema seems to have `disappeared', the two festivals of romantic films and comedies provided a fairly well-defined window on France, more particularly the contemporary Parisian life and its attendant values.

The Festival started with Etienne Chatiliez's Tanguy. James Huth's directorial debut Serial Lover and Didier Bourdon-Bernard Campan's self-enacted The Bet proved riotous amongst the four comedies. The exaggerated story of the crime fiction editor Clair Doste (Michele Laroque), Serial Lover (1998) was a dark comedy for its humour emanated from four, nay five accidental deaths on the same evening. The film is set on an evening that is supposed to be a day of reckoning for the 35-year-old late riser to the idea of settling down with one of her three current suitors.

Funny accidents

And a day of reckoning it does turn out to be as one by one, all her suitors and a fourth friend succumb to funny accidents. The climax comes in this film of dynamic camerawork when the cop on a hunt for thieves, enters the troubled dame's flat at the end of the evening, when all the corpses have already been cleared. The empathising cop must meet the same fate as he asks for the `last dance' (before exit) with Clair!

The Festival ended on the eve of the Anti-Tobacco Day (31 May) with a screening of The Bet (1997). A hilarious comedy about two co-brothers' vain attempt to go off smoking. They forced themselves not to smoke in an one-upmanship at a family get-together.

The fast-paced film shot at several locales became an absorbing chronicle of not merely `to be or not be' a smoker, but also of familial jealousies, marital incompatibility, the `vanity' of TV talk shows and their anchors and class-distinctions as seen through the eyes of our pseudo protagonists.

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