Anasuya Sengupta bags the Best Actress award at Cannes 2024 for ‘The Shameless’

The debutante actress created history by becoming the first Indian actor to win the award
In frame: Anusuya Sengupta
In frame: Anusuya Sengupta

Actor Anasuya Sengupta etched her name in Cannes history on Friday night. The Kolkata-born artiste became the first Indian to win a top acting award at the prestigious film festival. Her captivating performance in The Shameless, a gritty film by Bulgarian director Constantin Bojanov, earned her the Un Certain Regard Best Actress award. 

In frame: Anusuya Sengupta
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Visibly shaken with emotion, Sengupta dedicated her historic win “to the queer community and other marginalized communities for so bravely fighting a fight they really shouldn't have to.” The audience erupted in cheers and applause as she concluded her powerful acceptance speech saying, “We don't need to be colonised to know how very, very pathetic colonisers are.”  

The film shot over a month and a half in India and Nepal, features a stellar cast including the renowned actor Mita Vashist. Interestingly, Bojanov, an award-winning director himself, discovered Sengupta through an unexpected connection – a Facebook friendship. One day, he surprised Sengupta by requesting an audition tape, unknowingly igniting her acting career.

This Jadavpur University graduate’s artistic journey isn’t limited to acting. Before The Shameless, Sengupta honed her craft as a production designer, contributing to projects like Srijit Mukherjee’s Forget Me Not for Netflix's Satyajit Ray anthology and Masaba Masaba.

In The Shameless, Sengupta portrays Renuka, a vagabond seeking refuge in a north Indian sex worker community after fleeing murder charges in Delhi. The film delves into Renuka’s unconventional love story with Devika, a teenager played by Omara Shetty, who is initially shielded from the harsh realities of sex work due to her physical limitations.

In frame: Anusuya Sengupta
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Sengupta's journey from production designer to Cannes-recognised actress is a remarkable story of talent, determination, and a touch of serendipity. Her win signifies a new chapter not just for her career, but for Indian representation on the global stage. 

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