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May 20, 2007 at 09:57pm IST

Lage Raho ... is hot at Cannes

Cannes (France): Eight months after its theatrical release, the inspiring story of Munna and his experiments with truth continues to touch people's hearts.

At the Cannes film festival, where Lage Raho Munnabhai is included in the Cinema of the World section, the film's screening on Saturday drew a packed house of mostly French students.

Lining up in long queues to catch the film that had been strongly recommended in festival reviews, not one person who entered the screening left before the end of the two-hours-thirty-minutes film which was screened with French subtitles.

“I thought Indian films were traditional but we can see that it has evolved and is very modern,” said a student.

For the film's director Rajkumar Hirani who attended the screening at Cannes with his wife Manjeet and his six-year-old son Veer, the never-ending popularity of Lage Raho Munnabhai continues to come as a pleasant surprise.

“I am the kind of guy who gets scared at every stage and I was scared about how the film would do. First I was wondering if English subtitles would work with an English audience and in Cannes I was worried about whether French subtitles would work. I shouldn't praise my own film but I think the film has gone beyond subtitles,” said Hirani.

The Cinema of the World section at Cannes this year honours Indian cinema with a seven-film package that includes Hindi films Guru, Lage Raho Munnabhai and Dharm, Tamil film Veyil, Malayalam film Saira, Bengali film Dosar and English film Missed Call.

The makers of all seven films - including veterans Mani Ratnam, Rituporno Ghosh and Shankar - were present at the inauguration of this section which was attended by a significantly white audience.

More significant than actresses Aishwarya Rai or Preity Zinta's presence on the red carpet is the warm reception that these seven selected films have received at Cannes this year.

For those unfamiliar with Indian cinema, it's given them an opportunity to understand that there's more to our movies than just song-and-dance.

And with Lage Raho Munnabhai, it's also made them realize that all song-and-dance films aren't necessarily mindless entertainers.