‘The Lunchbox’ To ‘Masaan’: Indian Films That Won Cannes Awards Over The Years

Indian Films That Won Cannes Awards
Since 1975, the French city of Cannes has hosted a prestigious film festival that invites artists from all over the world to present their work. The Cannes Film Festival rolled out the red carpet on Tuesday, May 17, 2022, after a cancelled 2020 edition and a scaled-back gathering last year. Over the course of the following 12 days, 21 films will compete for the festival’s famous top prize, the Palme d’Or, while a few high-profile Hollywood films will also compete.

As the Cannes Film Festival 2022 approaches, we take a look back at the Indian films that have won accolades at the festival in the past. Here are 10 Indian films that have received international acclaim because of the prestigious film festival

Indian Films That Won Cannes Awards Over The Years

A Night of Knowing Nothing

Payal Kapadia directed the documentary film A Night of Knowing Nothing, which was released in 2021. The film revolves around letters written by L., a student at the Film and Television Institute of India, to her estranged boyfriend after they were separated when he was forced to quit film school and denied permission from his family to continue dating L. since they are not of the same caste.

At the 2021 Cannes Film Festival, the film premiered in the Directors’ Fortnight section and won the L’il d’Or award for Best Documentary Film.


Richa Chadda and Vicky Kaushal star in the key roles of Masaan, a 2015 Hindi-language indie drama film. Neeraj Ghaywan is making his directorial debut. The film depicts a tragic love tale between a lower caste boy and an upper-caste girl and deals with the difficulties of a casteist society.

At the 2015 Cannes Film Festival, the film won two honours in the Un Certain Regard section.

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Vicky Kaushal in Masaan

Marana Simhasanam

Murali Nair wrote and directed Marana Simhasanam, a 1999 Indian Malayalam-language drama film. The film was inspired by India’s first electric execution. The film was about a farmer who is wrongfully accused and imprisoned for a murder he did not commit and is condemned to electrocution, a first in his state. At the 1999 Cannes Film Festival, the film was exhibited in the Un Certain Regard section and won the Caméra d’Or.

 The Lunchbox

Ritesh Batra wrote, directed, filmed, and edited The Lunchbox, a 2013 Hindi-language romance film. It stars Bharti Achrekar, Nakul Vaid, and Nawazuddin Siddiqui in supporting roles alongside the late Irrfan Khan and Nimrat Kaur. The film depicts an odd love tale between a lonely widower and an equally lonely and unhappy housewife.

The film premiered at the 2013 Cannes Film Festival’s International Critics’ Week and went on to win the Critics’ Week Viewers’ Choice Award, popularly known as the Grand Rail d’Or.

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Irrfan Khan in the film The Lunchbox


Mrinal Sen’s Bengali film Kharij, also known as The Case is Closed, was released in 1982 under the auspices of Neelkanth Films. It is based on a novel by Ramapada Chowdhury and stars Anjan Dutta and Mamata Shankar in key roles. The film depicts the efforts of a middle-class family to console their bereaved father after their child servant, Palan, is found dead in their kitchen.

Mrinal Sen’s Bengali film earned the Special Jury Prize at Cannes in 1983.

Salaam Bombay!

Mira Nair directed, co-wrote, and co-produced Salaam Bombay!, a 1988 Indian Hindi-language drama film. Shafiq Syed, Raghuvir Yadav, Anita Kanwar, Nana Patekar, Hansa Vithal, and Chanda Sharma are among the cast members. The film, set in the backstreets of Bombay, now Mumbai, tells the story of a rag picker and a brothel prostitute who form an unusual friendship.

Salaam Bombay! received widespread critical acclaim at the 1988 Cannes Film Festival, where it won the Caméra d’Or and the Audience Award.

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Pather Panchali

Satyajit Ray wrote and directed Pather Panchali, a Bengali-language epic drama film released in 1955. It’s based on Bibhutibhushan Bandyopadhyay’s Bengali novel of the same name from 1929. Subir Banerjee, Kanu Banerjee, Karuna Banerjee, Uma Dasgupta, Pinaki Sengupta, and Chunibala Devi are among the cast members. The story follows a young boy named Apu and his older sister Durga as they navigate the difficult village life of their poor family.

At the 1956 Cannes Film Festival, it was named Best Human Document.

Boot Polish

Prakash Arora directed and Raj Kapoor produced Boot Polish, a 1954 Hindi comedy-drama. Ratan Kumar and Naaz play key roles in the film. It was the only Indian film to receive awards for its actors at the Cannes Film Festival. Naaz, a child actor, received a special distinction award at Cannes in 1954.

The movie told the story of two orphaned children who were forced to beg on the streets of Bombay by their aunt after their mother died.

Do Bigha Zameen

Bimal Roy directed Do Bigha Zamin, a 1953 Indian Hindi-language drama film. The voices of Balraj Sahni and Nirupa Roy feature in the film, which is based on Rabindranath Tagore’s Bengali poem Dui Bigha Jomi. The film is based on the true tale of a family who was forced to move to the city to work odd jobs when their farm failed to produce a harvest. Balraj Sahni, the film’s principal actor, gave a phenomenal performance, even pulling rickshaws in real life on the streets of Calcutta to get into character.

At the Cannes Picture Festival, the film earned the International Prize.

Neecha Nagar

Chetan Anand directed Neecha Nagar, a 1946 Hindi-language film scripted by Khwaja Ahmad Abbas and Hayatullah Ansari. It was based on Hayatullah Ansari’s Hindi story ‘Neecha Nagar‘, which was influenced by Russian writer Maxim Gorky’s The Lower Depths. It adopted an expressionist approach to the social divide between the affluent and poor. The film stars Kamini Kaushal, Rafiq Anwar, and Zohra Sehgal, and it tells the story of India’s class division.

Indian Films That Won Cannes Awards

Still from Neecha Nagar