India & Oscar- Always about Stars & Indian Poverty???

So Peepli Live is the Indian’s official Oscar nomination but now again as always it makes me question if it’s the right choice. This is not new that every time a movie is nominated for Oscar there are questions, but I feel these question are valid. Why not movies with less star power gets nominated. But I feel there were other good films also running for the same position. Apparently Vasanthabalan’s reality film ‘Angadi Theru’ was the closest competition.

Then why did it lose?? because it didn’t had backing of Aamir Khan.  Aamir Khan produced ‘Peepli Live’ was chosen saying “the film is a reflection of India’s culture and ethos, even as it highlights the burning problem — farmer suicides.” But don’t we think we want to win and show the world only the poor side of the country??

This year too like every year there were better movies ready to go but didn’t get recognized because of lack of star power. This year there were five Tamil films out of the initially shortlisted 27 Indian films. Singam, Angadi Theru, Madrasapattinam, Raavanan and Vinnaithandi Varuvaaya. Notable other language films were Paa, Raajneeti, My Name is Khan, Three Idiots and Pazhassi Raja.

Atleast in among the Hindi movies Udaan according to me was the best to be nominated. The issue the movie raised are not only valid in India but surely global too. The movie was nominated for Cannes which shows its appeal to the world cinema. It did won applauds at various film festivals worldwide. But just because they couldn’t market itself the way Aamir does they lost the spot. If they want to represent India then I don’t think Udaan falls short anywhere.Udaan is about dreams of the young and the innocent and that also form the perspective of the dreamers. Rebellious, impatient boys, relationships people share, tussle between parents and the children, the movie had what it required according to me.  India is known for relationships worldwide. Farmer suicides are also there but its our internal apathy. Why do we want to show our carelessness to the world and how our media and politicians behave or how poor we are if we are?? Why can’t we show how creatively and nicely we can portray a other sensitive matters like relationships. These relationships can be between anybody. Relationship is the only one thing required worldwide today.

Lets see at some movies gone to Oscars which had big names and got DUD –

  • Vidhu Vinod Chopra’s Eklavya: The Royal Guard was chosen, after a huge controversy, in 2007. But not surprisingly it failed to make it to the next round.
  • Rang De Basanti- Aamir Khan has a history with the Oscars. Despite being a success in India and wining applauds, it was eliminated out of the Oscar race at early stages only
  • Lagaan became the third Indian film to be nominated for the Academy Award for Best Foreign Language Film after Mother India in 1957 and Salaam Bombay! in 1989
  • 1947 Earth- Another Aamir movie which was considered as a powerful reminder of how a civilization cracked under certain pressures. But despite all such rave reviews, the film couldn’t crack the Oscars.
  • Hey Ram- Another  failed attempts of Indian films at the Academy Awards
  • Devdas & Paheli – Both were good success in the country but failed to impress the Oscar judges
  • Jeans- Held some record for a Tamil film with the maximum number of prints but was it a Oscar material..god and selection committee only knows…or may be Aiswarya Rai
  • Hindustani- Won 3 National awards, this Kamal Hassan starrer couldn’t win anything forget nominations or applauds
  • Henna- How many of you know that The Rishi Kapoor starrer  was India’s Oscar nomination
  • Parinda- Vidhu Vinod Chopra had Parinda besides, Eklavya, for Oscars  but as usual it was also disqualified at the 1990 Academy Awards for Best Foreign Language Film
  • Saagar – Ramesh Sippy’s movie starring Kamal Hasan & Rishi Kapoor starrer was also sent for the Oscars.

I can still name out a few more but then result has been the same. The only movies I don’t question has been Salaam Bombay & maybe Bandit Queen.  Our Nominators think that of all the movies from India that has been nominated in ‘Best Foreign Language Film’ category – Mother India, Salaam Bombay and Lagaan are based on people with impoverished/rural background & they may have been trying to bank on the success of Slumdog Millionaire and the various discussions on poverty-porn.

I believe now its time for our Jury to give some rest to our “Stars” and “poverty” and see beyond them. Indian Cinema is growing and going places. Its time for us to think beyond few cliche’ and show what more we can give. I still say Peepli Live is not a bad story or not a god movie but Oscar material?? Doubtful.


4 thoughts on “India & Oscar- Always about Stars & Indian Poverty???

  1. Surely u know movies producers work really hard/ lobby with banquets, ‘gifts’, etc. to ensure an Oscar as they know the money spent will be recouped if they get an Oscar, which is an excellent marketing tool. Not every Oscar movie has been good or even remotely good. However a movie showing India’s poverty, bribes or plain ugliness is more likely to win. Certainly not colonial wickedness! It feels good and logical to various mind sets.
    Bribery in the west is often called lobbying if it involves the govt.

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