Home > 

Cannes Triumph: The Story Behind India’s Historic Grand Prix Winner

All We Imagine Is Light, an intimate film on the lives of two nurses in Mumbai, has become the most talked-about Indian film on the global stage. This newfound fame is not unmerited. Just last week, director Payal Kapadia’s creation became the first Indian film ever to win the Grand Prix at the prestigious Cannes Film Festival. This significant achievement marks the first major win by any Indian film in the competition category at Cannes in 41 years. Leading the emotional and evocative narrative of this relationship drama is Kani Kusruti, an actress with deep roots in Malayalam cinema.

### Who is Kani Kusruti?

Kani Kusruti’s heritage is steeped in advocacy and activism. Born to social activists and human rights champions Dr. Jayashree AK and Maitreya Maitreyan in Thiruvananthapuram, Kani imbibed the social consciousness of her parents from an early age. In a symbolic act of defiance and liberation, she chose to drop her last name as a child. It wasn’t until she was 15 that she invented her own last name, ‘Kusruti,’ which translates to ‘mischievous’ in Malayalam.

Kani began her professional journey on the theatre stage in 2000, a platform that allowed her to hone her craft before making her film debut in 2003 with “Anyar.” Her portrayal of a sex worker in the 2010 film “Cocktail” garnered considerable attention and marked her as an actress of note. Over the years, she expanded her acting portfolio, venturing into Tamil cinema with “Pissau” in 2014 and the Telugu industry with “Spyder” in 2017. Her versatility further shone in web series across various languages, including Hindi, with titles like “OK Computer,” “Maharani,” and the recent “Killer Soup.”

### When Kani Kusruti Quit Films

However, Kani’s journey has not been without its trials. In 2019, she revealed that she had temporarily stepped away from the film industry a few years earlier, disheartened and disturbed by the sexual demands directed at her from some filmmakers. She shared that the extent of this harassment even involved attempts by filmmakers to coerce her mother into persuading her to acquiesce to their demands.

Join Get ₹99!

. During this hiatus, Kani returned to her roots in theatre, but financial constraints eventually led her back to the film industry.

### All We Imagine As Light

The film that has catapulted Kani Kusruti back into the spotlight, “All We Imagine As Light,” is a poignant exploration of the lives and struggles of two nurses. The film stars Kani alongside Divya Prabha, with Chhaya Kadam playing a pivotal role. It holds the distinction of being the first Indian film in three decades to compete for the top honor at Cannes and ultimately secure the Grand Prix, the festival’s second most prestigious award after the Palme d’Or.

The film’s journey to the Cannes main competition was itself historic, an honor that had not been accorded to any Indian film for 30 years. Its eventual triumph has been celebrated far and wide, though the film is yet to be released in India. This delay in its home country has only heightened the anticipation and curiosity surrounding it.

### The Rise and Rise of Kani Kusruti

Kani Kusruti’s success with “All We Imagine As Light” stands as a testament to her resilience and talent. It underscores the importance of unwavering dedication and the pursuit of one’s passion, irrespective of the hurdles one may face. Her story, from facing industry malpractices to becoming the face of an award-winning film at an international festival, is both inspiring and poignant. It emphasizes the necessity for change within the film industry, advocating for a safer and more equitable environment for all artists.

Payal Kapadia’s directorial acumen and the profound performances of its cast have put “All We Imagine As Light” at the center of global cinematic discussions. This film, which captures the essence of its characters’ struggles and victories, offers a narrative that is both universal and deeply rooted in Indian society. The Grand Prix win is not just a celebration of a film but also a broader acknowledgment of Indian cinema’s potential to resonate on the world stage.

As we await the film’s release in India, Kani Kusruti and the team behind “All We Imagine As Light” continue to ride this wave of acclaim, marking a significant milestone in Indian cinema’s storied history at Cannes. With this win, they have redefined expectations and set a high bar for future Indian films at international festivals.