Payal Kapadia’s feature film All We Imagine As Light was not only the first film in three decades to enter the Main Competition section at the Cannes Film Festival this year, but also turned out to become the first Indian film to ever win the Grand Prix. It was Japanese filmmaker Kore-eda Hirokazu who announced All We Imagine As Light as the winner of the second-most prestigious award last week. (Also read: Kani Kusruti exclusive interview: ‘Payal Kapadia really deserved the win at Cannes Film Festival’)

Payal Kapadia and Divya Prabha pose during a photocall after she won the Grand Prix for the film All We Imagine as Light at the 77th Cannes Film Festival. (AFP)

Actor Divya Prabha, who plays the impressionable young nurse Anu in the film, was visibly moved to tears as the audience erupted to give a standing ovation to the team. She joined co-stars Kani Kusruti and Chhaya Kadam on stage, as Payal expressed her gratitude to the women who gave their heart and soul to the film.

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In this exclusive interview with Hindustan Times, Divya Prabha sat down with us to talk about that historic moment at Cannes, the celebration that followed, and what she hopes this win will do for Indian films at the festival.

Congratulations on All We Imagine As Light winning the Grand Prix. Tell us about that moment the name was announced… how you and the team celebrated after the big win

To be frank, I am still processing it, from the moment we received the standing ovation at the premiere… to now, the whole experience has been overwhelming. The celebration mood is still on. After the premiere, there was a party at a RestoBar. We all hugged each other, laughed, and cried. When we went back to the hotel where we stayed, they gave us small gifts like key chains in the shape of the pressure cooker. Which is used as a prop in the movie! All of these moments are super special for me and I feel like I am still living in it.

It was so much fun seeing the team dancing on the red carpet of the premiere!

It was not planned at all! I was very nervous going to the red carpet that day. I had a previous red carpet experience in Locarno Film Festival last year. But nothing matches this red carpet at Cannes! On the red carpet in Cannes, each film team can choose a song to play in the background while walking. So when we arrived, there was a Hindi song playing which the team selected earlier. I am a person who usually dances now and then whenever I hear a song. So I danced very naturally hearing the song. And of course, there was a sense of overwhelming joy in every one of us, and we all enjoyed in that moment by dancing together. That is so palpable in the video.

This was also the first time you watched the film together with the audience and the rest of the team. The standing ovation lasted so long…

Yes, it was my first time watching the film! The film is sync sound but for the patch dub, I watched bits and pieces of some scenes. I watched the entire film at the premiere for the first time with my team and the brilliant audience. Payal [Kapadia] was sitting next to me and it was truly a special feeling. Watching it as a well-made film and as a result of our collaboration… and the standing ovation followed by that… all of it combined made my heart full with a lot of emotions. I really don’t know how to put it all into words… I remembered my father at that moment, who is no longer with us now. I missed him.

Payal also mentioned how there are so many thriving filmmakers in the country and that she hopes we do not have to wait for another 30 years for a film to go to Cannes. What would you say about the range of filmmaking voices that have emerged from India in the last few years?

I totally agree with Payal’s statement. In the last few decades, there have been so many brilliant films made in India. I believe Payal’s win will be pathbreaking and hoping to see more Indian films appear at Cannes in the upcoming years. I must say it is Payal’s determination and hard work that truly deserves this win. As an actor as well as an audience, I am deeply inspired.