Anasuya Sengupta wins Un Certain Regard best actress trophy at 2024 Cannes

Sengupta dedicated the award to the "queer community and other marginalised communities" for bravely fighting for their rights.


Published May 25, 2024 | 5:18 PMUpdatedMay 25, 2024 | 5:19 PM

Anasuya Sengupta cannes

Anasuya Sengupta, one of the lead stars of Bulgarian director Konstantin Bojanov’s Hindi-language movie The Shameless, has created history by bagging the Best Actress award in the Un Certain Regard category of the 2024 Cannes Film Festival.

Sengupta, who hails from Kolkata, is the first Indian artiste to win the category’s top acting honour, marking a significant milestone for India at the prestigious film gala.

The festival will conclude on Saturday, 25 May.

In her acceptance speech on Friday night, 24 May, Sengupta dedicated the award to the “queer community and other marginalised communities” for bravely fighting for their rights all over the world.

“You don’t have to be queer to fight for equality, you don’t have to be colonised to know that colonising is pathetic — we just need to be very, very decent human beings,” the actor said.

The win at Cannes is a landmark moment in Sengupta’s career.

She earlier played a supporting part in the 2009 Bengali movie Madly Bangalee, directed by Anjan Dutt, and worked as a production designer after shifting to Mumbai.

Sengupta Shines

A still from the film The Shameless

A still from the film ‘The Shameless’. (X)

The Shameless, which had its premiere at Cannes on 17 May, forays into a dark, disturbing world of exploitation and misery in which two sex workers, one who bears the scars of her line of work, the other a young girl days away from ritual initiation, forge a bond and seek to throw off their shackles.

Sengupta plays the central character of Renuka, who escapes from a Delhi brothel after stabbing a policeman to death and takes refuge in a community of sex workers in northern India, where she meets Devika (Omara), a young girl condemned to a life of prostitution.

The actor celebrated her win on Instagram, where she posted pictures with Un Certain Regard jury head, Canadian director Xavier Dolan, and German-Luxembourg star Vicky Krieps.

The Shameless also stars Mita Vashisht, Tanmay Dhanania, Rohit Kokate, and Auroshikha Dey in key roles.

Gallery: Kani Kusruti makes a bold statement with her clutch at Cannes

Other awards

British-Indian filmmaker Sandhya Suri’s Santosh was part of the Un Certain Regard category as well but didn’t win any awards.

The Un Certain Regard, which runs parallel to the festival’s main competition, aims to highlight new trends, new paths, and new countries of cinema.

The top prize of the segment went to Black Dog by Chinese filmmaker Gou Zhen, while French director Boris Lojkine’s L’Histoire de Souleymane bagged the Jury Prize.

Abou Sangre of L’Histoire de Souleymane won the best actor trophy for his performance in the movie.

The best director trophy was shared by Roberto Minervini of The Damned and Rungano Nyoni for On Becoming a Guinea Fowl.

Tawfik Alzaidi of Saudi Arabia received a Special Mention for his first feature film Norah and the Youth Award went to Louise Courvoisier for her debut movie Holy Cow.

The Un Certain Regard jury was chaired by Dolan and included French-Senegalese director Maimouna Doucoure, Moroccan director Asmae El Moudir, and American writer Todd McCarthy.

Applause from all around

Anasuya Sengupta

Anasuya Sengupta. (Instagram)

Several Indian celebrities including filmmakers Zoya Akhtar, Hansal Mehta, actors Arjun Kapoor, Radhika Apte, and Adarsh Gourav congratulated Sengupta on her win.

Akhtar shared a news story about Sengupta’s win on her Instagram Stories and wrote, “Congratulations.”

Mehta wrote, “Congratulations on your win at Cannes 2024.”

“This deserves to be celebrated along with the film,” Kapoor posted.

Apte, whose film Sister Midnight was screened at the film gala as part of sidebar section Directors’ Fortnight, said on Instagram, “Absolutely incredible.”

“Historic day for India! Congratulations on the win,” Gourav said on his Instagram Stories.

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