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Thursday, Oct 16, 2014

Showbiz

French cinema icon Catherine Deneuve curious about Bollywood

AFP | Thursday, Oct 16, 2014

MUMBAI - After a glittering half-century career as a French cinema icon, Catherine Deneuve is well used to strangers' attention. But the past few years have thrown up a trend she cannot abide.

"Everybody wants to do these horrible things called 'selfies'," she tells AFP in a rare interview in Mumbai, elegantly reclined on the sofa in her hotel suite.

Once a target of the paparazzi, septuagenarian Deneuve says today it is fans with smartphones she contends with, who regularly ask to snap her in their self-portrait photographs.

"I think it's awful, a 'selfie'! I mean what do they do with that?" she asks, baffled.

Deneuve, who turns 71 next week, has earned a formidable reputation as the "ice queen" of French films since her breakthrough role in "The Umbrellas of Cherbourg" back in 1964.

But, frustration at selfies aside, she is relaxed and quick to laugh as she talks in India's entertainment capital, where she was presented this week with a lifetime achievement award at the Mumbai Film Festival.

Puffing on slim cigarettes and wearing a short gold-green and black dress, she describes the recognition as "very nice" -- but jokes that such lifetime honours can have the air of a distinguished "burial".

"It's for something that you've been doing, it doesn't mean that it's stopped."

With roles in the 1960s in films such as "Belle de Jour", in which she played a young housewife who works as a prostitute in the afternoons, Deneuve became known as a seductress and one of the world's most beautiful women.

Now the grand dame of French cinema with more than 100 films to her name, she still appears in two or three productions each year, but she believes her reputation abroad is more about her image than her acting.

"In France I'm an actress, I'm still working," she explains.

"When I arrive in some foreign countries I'm seen as a French symbol... A blonde French woman," she says, breaking into laughter again.

She is heading a delegation to promote her country's films at the Mumbai festival, which is holding its fourth annual "Rendez-vous with French cinema".

For the first time this year, the group uniFrance Films is holding special screenings to try and sell French screenplays to Bollywood producers, a lucrative market for remakes of foreign movies.

'Curious' about Bollywood

Deneuve admits to not having seen many Indian films, although she is "curious" and would consider acting in one herself.

"The cinema is so different. They love romantic stories, love dancing," she says.

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