Preity honours Santosh Sivan as he becomes first Asian to get Cannes cinematography award

Cannes: Preity Zinta presented Santosh Sivan, who shot her debut film ‘Dil Se’ in 1998, the prestigious Pierre Angenieux ExcelLens in Cinematography award in the presence of India’s Ambassador to France, Jawed Ashraf, at the 77th Cannes Film Festival on Friday night.

Sivan became the first Asian to be awarded the prized named after the inventor of the zoom lens that revolutionised cinematography.

Preity looked every inch elegant dressed in a blush-pink saree as she went on stage at the Palais de Festivals to present the honour to Sivan.

Before Sivan was given the award, the ambassador pointed out in his welcome speech how the “greatest film festival” had become “a very special one for India” in its 77th year.

Ambassador Ahraf pointed out that Cannes, which had become “a symbol of the permanence of excellence”, had always had a special place for India.

“You have recognised and honoured our best,” the ambassador said. “It is here that some of our best have been discovered for the world. But it is also here that some of our young dreams have landed softly and beautifully, and careers have taken off.”

Sivan was dressed in a tuxedo with a felt hat to complete his look for the occasion. Upon receiving the award, he said: “It is the most awesome time I have had in my life. It is an amazing place to receive this … for the Cannes Film Festival is the most beautiful festival I have attended.”

He added: “Like Preity said, I also don’t want to say too much except that I am hoping my father, mother, brother, who are no more, are smiling.” Admitting that he had been “a really bad husband because I have been filming all the time”, Sivan said his family was with him and that “they must be really happy”.

Sivan thanked his home state, Kerala, “from where I come from because it is that culture that I imbibed”. He added: “And it is the Malayalam industry where I learnt the basics because cinematography is without language. From there I shifted to Tamil cinema and from Hindi to Hollywood. What is great about this profession is that it has no boundaries”.

A graduate of the Film and Television Institute of India (FTII) and Padma Shri recipient, Sivan has made 55 feature films and 50 documentaries, and has won a stack of national and international awards.

His journey acquired a quicker pace with Mani Ratnam’s ‘Dil Se’, which had Preity, Shah Rukh Khan and Manisha Koirala playing the lead roles. Preity and Sivan will once again work together in Rajkumar Santoshi’s upcoming period drama ‘Lahore 1947’.


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