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HAS INDIA'S OSCAR ENTRY BEEN REDUCED TO A BITCHING CONTEST?

 

Monojit Lahiri wonders why, every year, shrieks and screams of protest fill the air the moment India’s official entry to Oscars is announced!
MONOJIT LAHIRI | Issue Dated: October 27, 2013, New Delhi
Tags : Oscar | Mother India | Salaam Bombay | Lagaan | |
 

The most popular, spectacular, dazzling and starry show on earth, grabbing eyeballs of every movie fan and overtly – or subliminally – attracting most movie-related folks, the Oscars impact India in no uncertain terms, too. After all, the biggest producer of feature films on Planet Earth needs to participate, to demonstrate its intent and tell the movie lovers that beyond quantity, India showcases solid quality too, at par with the best in the world, right? It has been steadily doing so for over five decades but with the exception of Mehboob Khan’s Mother India, Mira Nair’s Salaam Bombay and Ashutosh Gowarikar’s Lagaan, none really qualified to make the cut! In fact, most were summarily slung out at the first round itself! While, why they were not even considered for round 2 will demand another narrative, the question is: why is so much storm and controversy forever attached to the selection of the Oscar Entry and (more importantly) why the hi-pitched bitching that invariably follows? It is coarse, undignified and trivializes the process to a cheap street-fight!
Over the years, every time a film has been selected, on cue, howls of protest have flailed the air. Be it Jeans, Eklavya, Paheli or last year’s Barfi (overtaking Pan Singh Tomar) the protesters have consistently gone on an over-drive, with (polite or rude) bitchery often indicating reasons why they have been wronged. Whether true or imagined is not the point. Point is: Why can’t they be good losers? We all know that we don’t live in a perfect world and in a multi-language, multi-cultured land like ours, where the real criteria are still quite hazy (Region? Director’s clout? Depiction of the real India? Cinematic excellence) and where the jury members are sometimes, not quite qualified to sit on judgement, these things will happen. Can’t they learn from looking back? To hope n’ pray is fine, but to freak out when one’s film is ignored … does it indicate maturity or make sense. Doesn’t it make you look like a Cry Baby?


Presently, with the much acclaimed Lunch Box being sidelined for the relatively unknown The Good Road, both the Badshah of Masala films and Dada of the new alternate cinema, have come on strong against the selection. Both Karan Johar and Anurag Kashyap have expressed categorical disapproval and disappointment. Why this washing dirty linen in public with accusations of favouritism, questioning their Jury’s understanding of Oscar-friendly cinema or perception of the portrayal of the India the Oscar-jury want to consume …? It’s a done-deal, guys. Too bad Lunch Box didn’t make it to the Oscar feast. Move on …

 


The other fascinating aberration has to do with the weird belief that this India’s Official Entry tag is almost like winning the damned award! Its hysterical and ridiculous! Hysterical, the way the selected camp behaves, accepting congrats from the un-informed junta with benign smiles of modesty. Ridiculous, simply because chances are their great entry will be sent to the trash can in a flash! So why this hype n’ hoopla and self-congratulatory posturing? As the local wit quipped, “Boss, this is neither the corny IFFA nor any one of those dumb, publication/TV channel-sponsored entertainment circus. This is a trip to where their baap resides and the event is the Granddad of all glamour events connected with movies. ‘To boss, thoda tashan and reflected glory banta hai!’


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Issue Dated: Feb 5, 2017