Oscar Hoo Haaa >>

So much Hoo Ha about India’s entry to the Oscar’s. Do you really care about the Oscars ?


Would you be prouder of Indian Cinema if an Indian Film won the Best Foreign Language film Oscar ? Only if you thought that the Oscar Committee, or whoever judges the films knew more about Cinema than you, me or even our audiences. Right ?
What particularly intrigues me is the assumption in this controversy that the Jury in India is infinitely inferior to the Jury or whoever votes at the Oscars.
Consider that most of the Members of the Academy (who’s Vote leads to the Oscars) that actually have time (but perhaps not the ability) to sit through a 2.5 hour film, retired 20 years ago and are approaching their 80’s. Those that are working certainly do not have time to go see a foreign language film in a theatre, unless of course someone, or the press, have recommended it in unusually strong terms. The word we use for that is Lobbying.
I would bet that if Satyajit Ray were alive today, and made Pather Panchali in this year, first the Indian Jury would have not even considered it, and if perchance they did, the Oscar’s voters would probably have walked out of it. UNLESS the critics and the press raved about it before the screening. And this is a film that is rightly considered one of the 10 best ever made. So who has the right to judge ?
Film can be a numbers game only on the Box Office. All other yardsticks are composed of opinions, prejudices, preconceptions and judgementalism. Reviewers are not called ‘critics’ for no reason. They criticize and judge you. So if you want to WIN the Oscar (as against merely being the Indian nominee), the only way to beat them is to play cat and mouse with those that will judge you.
I was once asked to judge the Miss India contest. While all of us male members of the jury were thrilled about the opportunity to select beautiful girls based on our own prejudices and fantasies, we were clearly told by the organizers that we must decide whether we wanted to choose a girl WE like, or one that can WIN. And we were given a criteria of what is likely to win and what is not. No wonder when you see a jury judging a beauty contest on TV they look so glum. Their fantasies have been turned into an intellectual exercise.
So how do you make a film that will appeal to the Oscar Jury and recover it’s cost in India ? Well, you can’t really. Unless you become an “Oscar Darling” by selling your soul to the critics. But if we are really serious about winning the Oscar, then lets take a pointer or two from the organizers of beauty contests. The Indian Jury must put down a criteria of selection. Which must be based on what is currently fashionable in the confusing world of the critics. And the Jury must be selected, like fashion designers, from those that are hobnobbing the world of ‘fashionable cinema’.
Which leads me to another point. Why did regional films from India not come into contention? Some of the best films today are not made in Hindi but in regional languages, as they tend to be much more rooted.
So which film had a chance ?
I have not seen ‘Paheli’, so thankfully cannot be dragged into the controversy on whether it deserved the nomination or not. But I can understand that it represents much more the essential folk form of Hindi Cinema, which is Nautanki. I have seen ‘Black’, which was great, but too much a hybrid, traversing the world of nautanki and realism in one film. Which is fascinating for me and all those that understand and love the basic ethos of Indian Cinema. But in my opinion would have left the Oscar Voters a bit confused. Lagaan was loved by the foreign critics because it was an unabashed celebration of the nautanki form, a fairy tale not alluding to any realism at all.
But I can tell you which film I think had a real chance –
A film called ‘Black Friday’ which is a brilliant film by Anurag Kashyap. It is, naturally, banned in India. For it is the story of the people responsible for the Bombay Bomb Blasts. It follows them through the planning, execution and till they either gave themselves up or were arrested. It exposes the events in each ones lives, for you to judge the morality of it all. Totally gripping.
But much much more importantly, it is so contemporary to a Western World deep in fear of it’s own mortality through terrorism. It would have caught attention without having to spend obscene amounts of money lobbying. Which no India producer can afford to do.
I think it could have won.
And for those of you still enamored by the artistic integrity of the Oscars, remember that the Oscars were first devised as publicity stunt to promote sagging box office figures in the US in and around March.
shekhar

11 Responses to “Oscar Hoo Haaa >>”

  1. pawan pant says:

    in my point of view if you’re film have a potential to drew the audition to the cinema hall then it does not matter that how much long or short you’re movie is the important factor is that you re able to make conversatiion with you’re viewer if idea is diffrent and unique i mean in sense of not just a story but also in sense of picturitition style and it clearly show you’re philossphy about life and you’re sense about beauty deffnetly film work for you never load the burden in you’re mind about expectation most of great movie are just show the simplycity of life rather then the complex structure of living together

  2. Balaji says:

    It would be really interesting to know if the Indian jury actually selects a film that has a chance at the Oscars or just the best film they can lay their hands on that year.
    Interesting choice in “Black Friday”. Obviously, you are one of the few people who actually got a chance to see it. It may have been a good choice for the Oscars, but is it “Indian” enough? Coz that seems to be the reason that is given when the jury is questioned about the non-selection of Black. I wonder if the jury at the Academy has gotten real bored with Indian cinema since they know exactly what to expect since our Indian jury keeps selecting the same kinda “Indian” movies. It is about time we show the world we make all kinds of cinema, not just the song-n-dance variety!!

  3. ritesh says:

    the thing which is important here is
    when we talk about our ancient cultutre and heritage we are lost and fail to reach to the bottom of the main issue
    Vedas are the oldest scientific books
    and each hymn has scientific meaning vedas (vighyan) are same
    But to some the vedas are saffronising of india
    which is very unfortunate
    Yoga ayurveda and meditation are just few examples
    Our science and achievemnts in other fields are tremendous But do we really care about them
    Vedas are just old ancient religious scriptures not to be understood and sanscrit alanguage if one reads and understands is considered to be (pundit)illiterate whos goood only fr some ceromony
    Vedas are our basis they are our roots
    These are our real strength
    Secondly comparing these scriptures with geeta, ramayana and bibles is another setback
    as there is no personification in vedas its pure science (social physcica, and biological)
    Ones we get our roots and basics correct a strong feeling will undoubtably empower us and each one will be stronger from within
    Today we are mesmerised because we are very away from science in real terms Superstitions have paved way for scienctifc values and until that is done we will tend to look towards west and follow and imitate them irrespective of the fact that weather we like it or not or weather what they are doing is correct orr not
    Western world is still experimenting whereas our vedic rishis had sinces ages proved thier point and the scriptures are as relevant today as they had been in the past
    our science is based on intutions and not instruments wheras west would hardly believe in intutive powers.
    Our society specialised in devloping bodies as instruments for various jobs we had various rishis who would impart specific training in various aspects of life sama as West have higher institutions
    Need is to strenghen our instituions based on intuitve power of mind and soul
    set standards as Acharya Ramdev is Doing in field of yoga and meditation
    It is urgent need that we study both the aspects of life compre them honestly in whichever field we are and never forget the fact that vedas are still the most trusted works of science if our ancesstors could do it why not us
    I strongly respect scientists and artists of both the worlds
    and feel that both the worlds should develop strongly and let tthe time decide
    We have lost our ancesstoral scientific wisdom and it will take U turn efforts of many generations to devlop our science
    Today many politicans and educationists would try to generalise my words with one line that is safronising of the science and culture but that is very sad as they are the one who force us to believe that west is science ann best
    its time to change
    we and our vedic science holds the key for all the problems in world
    west is still experimenting
    sometimes milk is good for them and sometimes not
    Saddam is having weapons of mass destruction
    and ozone deplition is caused by global warming
    and if someone asks them wherecan we see it in AntaRTICA because they know that no one is going tthere
    They are taking usfor a ride
    and the whole world is enjoying it
    and few like me stand out to laugh

  4. subham says:

    What strikes me is this… “Black” is a good movie. no doubt abt that but hasn’t anyone seen the movie abt helen keller? Isn’t BLACK a hollywood “Inspired” movie? Please think “THE MIRACLE WORKER” 1962. Amitabh Bachchan gave a good performance but if you see the movie you would see the similarities between his acting and that of Anne BannCroft of “The Graduate” fame. i dont know if i was the only one to see the similarities between the numerous movies about helen keller and BLACK.
    Paheli did not really impress me. I understand the cultural aspect of it and i have to commend the brilliant cinematography and the colourfulness of the movie but when it comes to the story and the way it was presented, the lack of attention to detail really struck me. MAybe its just me but the bhojpuri in the movie was not bhojpuri at all. Why even try to incorporate something if u cant incorporate it fully?detail detail Mr. Palekar but i do applaud your effort and congratulations.
    I guess for indian movies to be accepted at the world level, there has to be some very special changes.
    Firstly, the who concept of commercial cinema has to change. Don’t stop making a movie just because no one else would watch it. People laughed at the prospect of making a movie about aliens who interacted freely with people and the whole concept of peaceful cohabitation (Think Star Wars) but George Lucas went ahead and made the film anyway. In india, somehow movies only seem to be made if they are considered to be bankable at the box office but i will say this ..a couple of offbeat movies that rahul bose has acted in are quite good…really…they might not appeal to the general public but to me that’s good cinema.

  5. subham, sydney says:

    Secondly, the subjects tht people deal with in movies are so indian. Why is it so hard for us to be creative and to think outside our own culture? Somehow it seems that the only thing that we can do about other cultures is to show how they are different from ours and to show the clashes.Why cant we make movies abt other cultures? Say Gypsies, Flamenco,a Mexican Holiday, maybe a movie about football in calcutta, or something that captures the essence of motherhood,one of the easiest things to focus on but with realism would be the social dilemma of kids brought up with one indian and another non-indian parent or parents from different religions…there are soo many subjects that can be presented in a great way — strong subjects that have universal appeal.They dont need to have song and dance sequences This is where i think Shekhar did a great thing along with Manoj K. Shymalan, which is to break boundaries and make movies with universal appeal. Don’t just think that an indian movie has to deal with an indian subject. Be different. Be bold – who knows it just might pay off?
    Thirdly, With the actors, why is it that we only go for stars that seem to be big and popular? Why is it that over the last few decades, with the exception of Rahul Bose and a few others, only very few actors have come out of the theatre genre? People who act in theatre have got fantastic acting skills and its mostly their body language that does a lot of the talking. I know that acting in film tv and theatre require totally different skillsets but they are not that far away. Get some good actors —- people who can really act, doesnt matter what field and put them in movies. I am sure that one can get fantastic performances out a a lot of these people. The cast does not have to be totally indian too, one can always look out.
    I guess in essence what i am trying to say is that make movies for the love of making movies. Don’t make movies that are ONLY and EXCLUSIVELY Indian but make movies that CAN deal with INDIAN subjects (hope i was able to make you understand the distinction).
    Oscars — i am a bit sceptical because its the age old debate of “I will let my work speaks for itself VS the need for an instituition to recognise a piece of work”.
    So just make movies for the love of making movies and only then can we actually develop the “Real Cinematic Gems”

  6. ritesh arya says:

    if OSCAR does not matter then why should english matter.
    but the fact is it does
    even if you are a archarya in Sanskirt or Hindi you are not considered educated if you fail in english in your class examination
    the basic attitude of our education system is faulty and that is what makes us feel OSCAR is important because ABC….. is very important to be educated.
    You have to pass in english to be matriculte
    if you want to become a doctor or engineer then the educstion system is so strong that you have to forget Hindi and master yourself in english
    if you cannot forget your mothertounge you cannot get higher degree
    the education system has to change
    Hindi should get its due
    alll functions of hindi cinema are anchored in english
    if english is that important then OSCAR has to be
    and that is the basic mentallity
    we need to get out of it
    than only oscar or no oscar would make a difference
    that does not mean that we ignore oscars as it definately have some standards
    if out of 1000 films we can easily point out ourself what can be nominated for OSCAr we know exactly that there will be only 1 or 2 films
    It is not that we donot know what standards are required for quality work for winning an OSVCAr
    but out of 1000 filmms its so easy for us to nominate 1 or 2 films with so ease it shaows that we know what OScar means but we are still reluctant to put in that extra effort which would actaullly make the differnce
    OSCARS matters or not is not the question
    i think we ahve to see it from another pont of view and that is the quality of DEvdas Black has to be sustaINED IN AMJOIRTY OF THE FILMS AND LET THEMSEND ENTERIES IN OUR AWARDS
    IT WILL TAKE TIME BUT IDEAS ARE TO BE SET IN
    STANDARDS HAVE TO BE SET
    WE SHOLD TRY TO DO OUR BEST AND THE WORLD SHOULD FOLLOW

  7. Prashant says:

    Great article! A great film is a great film wheather or not it gets an Oscar or any other award for that matter. Ritesh Arya you fail to understand that English is just a commmon language of communication. You can not call yourself an ‘educated’ simply because you know english. On the same note simply because a film gets an Oscar does not make it a great film and others not so great. Oscars are just a golden statue distributing function with big pomp and show and celebrities walking around. Enjoy it that way and that way only.

  8. ritesh arya says:

    hey english is not a common language specially in english it is a language of status
    all functions of hindi movie are choregraphed in english
    our MPs who speak english are considered more educated see Laloo and Manohan or Chidamram etc
    lets except the fact that english is not a common language in India
    A AA E EE sounds good when your child goes to school but you feel happy when he learns ABCd
    OSCARS and noble prize or for that matter olmpic medals are all medals for quality also
    rember a silver medal for rathore in olympics makes him a national hero
    lets tslk about quality and work hard rather then fool around with dance numbers for 3 hours in a cinema hall
    Lets accept qulaity and hardwork pays and hindi cinima is fast realising it

  9. Sharma says:

    It is funny that we want to be considered as a force or a community to recon with but don’t even realise what fails us.
    Its not about India or Hindi, its about principles, how many of these people who have posted responses here are actually staying and working in India.

  10. R S Prasanna says:

    What’s in a Birthday Gift?
    ==========================
    Art. Artist. Audience.
    Each one’s joy is different.
    The audience is awed by the work of the artist, and is dumbstruck thinking, “My god, this guy is a genius!”
    The artist savours a deep and silent joy – sitting and watching every single element of his handiwork being devoured and relished, and enjoying the unexplainable predicament he puts his audience into. His fan wants to say something, but he can’t.
    Art makes one speechless.
    I had wrapped up the gifts in layers of newspaper and built up the suspense with small notes here and there. It was her birthday.
    I had spent two weeks for the Hand-made Birthday card, had personally scouted shops for the most exotic trinklets that would be moulded by my fingers into a unique statuette. I had sat and designed for close to three hours, a beautiful wall hanging for her. I knew that my poem in the top-left corner of the wallhanging would move her to tears.
    I gave her the package.
    It was a bithday gift.
    She was a birthday girl looking at her bithday gift.
    The audience looked at the art. The artist looked at her eyes.
    The artist can never understand fully the joy in the audience’s head.
    She looked at me. There were tears in her eyes. She had taken a full ten minutes to unwrap the gifts. She’d savoured each layer, each note. She caressed each curve of the statuette, each dent that my nail had embedded in it. She’d thanked the poem with her fingers, she’d laughed at the 40-page birthday card!
    She looked at me.
    We gaped at each other. Stupidly.
    Wide eyed, drop-jawed, and thanking the million stars above that each belonged to the other!
    What’s in a bloody birthday gift?
    The handiwork sat in between us silently. The very object of awe lay seemingly unattended.
    The work of Art.
    It of course, couldn’t care less.

  11. sheetalpeta says:

    I think every man on the earth wants to be recognized by whom he considers BEST people. May be in this process the Nobels, the Magasaysays, the Oscars and the Filmfares come…to tell him…”look bro! You are recognized, and you belong to THAT group!”
    True OSCARs don’t matter. But tell me how you felt after you win it Shekhar!
    Lots of luv!
    Sheetal

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