September 28, 2006

In Wait-Oscar

Filed under: India n Me,opinions — Kaveeta Oberoi Kaul @ 5:27 pm

Update: The makers of RDB, emboldened by the roaring success of the film, have decided to enlist it in eight categories….narcissism?

Adopting a ‘never-say-die attitude, the Producer of ‘Munnabhai lage Raho” has snubbed the jury by entering the film independently. Quite a race there..each vying for honours.Frankly, if a film manages to tailspin into the nominations, that itself is creditworthy. But will either of these attain the success of ‘Lagaan’?

Rang de basanti” Indias entry to the Oscars has fuelled many an argument as to the corrrectness of its choice.As a film, it had its moments. The central theme had stirred up emotions in the audience since it closely corresponded with an average viewers impending issues, faced ad nauseum. For me personally, there were thematic structural problems in the film, which failed to go well with my sensibilities..but that bears little relevance to the subject of an Indian film representation at a world forum.

Simplistically, what is the criteria of selection? Or rather, ideally what should be the determining factor which excludes one film over another? If one is to go by the past successes in the ‘foreign language category’, the underlying theme has unmistakably been that of a simple, unpretentious, story line which interprets a slice of life imaginatively, at once flirting with cinematic techniques, albeit never succumbing to populist dictates. A case in point “Tsotsi” By Gavin Hood from South Africa, dealing with issues of class apartheid and ‘Vita E Bella’ or ‘Life is Beautiful”.by Roberto Belligni, the poignant story of a nazi victim and his son whose life he saves with a sense of humor, which was all he had at his disposal.. On receiving the award, I recall clearly, the standing ovation he received form the august gathering, where he excitedly stepped over seats, as if walking on air , in a hurry to receive the award..Playing the protagonist, writing and directing the film he was truly a ‘one man wonder”that day..and for me the when I saw the film ..I cried like there was no tomorrow.. bu then as hubby often says”you can cry in a Charlie Chaplin film’..sniff… show me a performance that rings true and there I go hurriedly .in search of tissue.

RdB, may have appealed to Indians the world over, yet as an entry for the Oscars, it evinces a quizzically raised eyebrow, wistfully. We are not , should not and cannot compete with films on the level of technique. use of the jimmyjib, lenses, cranes or whatever denotes ‘Indias coming of age’ technically. Because, lets face it, we are a long way off. This has nothing to do with talent but with budgets. How many of us know that an average ad film of 30 seconds made in UK or USA costs perhaps five times more than the most expensive “Devdas”? And yet, we have to compete with the best on that terrain.So where is the point in showcasing a small step forward which to our eyes may seem gigantic?

We excel in portraying emotion. Our literature, songs, poetry are abundantly rich with pathos.What is the USP of RDB? Probably, timeliness of the subject, capacity to entertain, hummable songs,the tapping on inner frustration of youth in their impotece at dealing with everyday evidences of corruption.

It will be truly surprising if these translate as good enough reasons for Westerners to appreciate the film as well, especially on the level of a world competition where lateral markings are handicaps awarded there.

“Water” has been sent by the Producers of the films individually. It should be no surprise if this garners lot more acclaim and interest..’Maine gaandhi ko nahin maara’, if sent as well. Keeping in mind the heavy lobbying involved, which entails that atleast two thirds of the jury view the film, irrespective of the number of screenings, a Producer like Rakeysh Mehra, under the auspices of Aamir khan, definitely scores over the others. Moreso. since Aamir has already successfully taken Lagaan to the finishing line, earlier. Perhaps this was the one factor that went most in favour of RDB, over say Omkara, Munnabhai..the ONLY others worth considering..

Subscribing to the theory “What Oscars?” is to me a defeatist attitude. One is living in a world where every other Indian film is beng ‘inspired’ by those made elsewhere. Why shy away from coming out in the open playing field then? Winning may not be the sole intention of participation. But showcasing talent is a definite high. When Indians are rubbing shoulders with the best universally,in Science, Medicine, Computers, not to forget the beauty pageants, then cinematic brilliance ought to be up on stage as well.

This is a rather complex issue, really On one level I have no doubt as to the capabilities of Indian films and the talent involved. On the other is the conundrum of the genre of films, turkeys, majority of which are catering to the masses, burdened heavily, shackled with commercial factors. Eventually in the process of getting Box office counters jingling, what we are churning out is sub standard stuff.. since our “Bihari Babu’ aint no oscar fan!! Therfore where are the choices? Either we make successful films or good films.. a paradox which has plagued every film maker worth his salt in India.

It will take a while before systemic revolution of the kind which solidifies a structure of adequate returns, dictates cinematic decisions. Where a Producer is in the business for the love of the art more than fructifying business proposals.Art would take precedence over commerce.. Its worth the wait. though.

Update 16th Jan’07: Results are out

Hmm..I was on mark πŸ™‚


  1. It was a great great film…the BEST we could have sent.The songs, scenes, emotion, story, was SUPERB.

    Comment by anonymous — September 28, 2006 @ 11:32 pm | Reply

  2. for me the choice would have been ‘omkara’. It was a film that scored over the others on basis of realism…not a typical song and dance bollywood type, which is the requirement.

    Comment by dilip — September 29, 2006 @ 8:15 am | Reply

  3. it has its moments, it has its colourz n ya, it is our best bet.
    the unrealistic ending somewhere hurtz the realm. but to bag mr. oscar, the lobbying game needes to be perfected-true! going for global acclaim is fine but then somewhere we take these phoren acclaims to heart- there is a perspective difference, even though its art. the internal evaluationz n criticism shud have more bearing coz certain thingz ‘happen only in india’!!

    may the best reel win:)

    Comment by saptarshi — September 29, 2006 @ 11:54 am | Reply

  4. To have to send a film every year is okay..but last year ‘Black’ was the only film that deserved to be Indian entry. I liked Gangster also but that does not mean it has to be considered. I thnk the jury members are mistaking between a hit film, like RDb and a great film..that does not mean i did not like it, but not for Oscars.If a chinese korean, african film can win , then India needs a win ..its high time.But puhleeaasee how can they even think of corporate and madhur bhandarkar and all that stuff.its crazy.. we are talking oscars not sanjeevani awards or some local stuff!!Thats the problem here..politics even in selection as in the cricket team.. the best never gets selected.

    Comment by Neha — September 29, 2006 @ 3:48 pm | Reply

  5. @ Anonymous,


    @ Dilip,

    I tend to agree.

    @ Saptarshi,
    Rdb has been right on target with the youth.. can see it with you:) As for foreign acclaim. .I see it this way that if a Nobel, Booker, Grand slam, Wimbledon can set us on fire if won, then why not with an Oscar??

    about indian sensibilities, on a world fora, thse thigs matter little. Cinema and emotions are a univeral medium and ought to be treated such.Its when we focus more on peripheries that we lose our chances.

    @ Neha,

    there was a year when the indian jury did not feel it right to send a single film..can you beat that? Even they were fair enough to realise that we were totally off the mark that year.

    Comment by kaveetaakaul — September 30, 2006 @ 8:05 am | Reply

  6. we can do with the free flowing spiritz n the colourz of life @rdb!

    its great to focus on the oscarz but indian cinema has certain ingredients that are unique n its not peripheral.
    the musical quotient, the social stigmas addressed n target audience, don gell with the american brand of ‘fire n forget’ movies! they rake in the green backz (molla!) n voila! u have starz n super starz riding the high waves of glory.. all seem somewat distant.
    in india, movies do leave an impression, it is intrinsic, still pancham, rafi n hrishi’mukh. comes bac in our moods, our phases.. emotionz!

    but the titanicz, ben hurz n pirates of the carrb’… pile away πŸ™‚
    mite be indian tennis needs grand slams, the bookerz are favoured over jynanpit (i hope i got the spell rite!) but the kaleidoscope of indian celluloid is beyond the perview of mr. oscar! as u said… wud they be able to measure the influence of a RDB?
    it wud all be ‘lost in translation’! amen!! still i hope they bag that bald headed man in gold n then again we wud have a reason to ‘khalbali’!!

    Comment by saptarshi — September 30, 2006 @ 11:15 am | Reply

  7. Hi Saptarshi,
    Our movies are categorised under ‘foreign language’. So we are under no duress to conform with “American” films, since we are not competing in the general category. Most contenders in that category are strong exmples of their cultural facets exemplified with that distinctive tinge..And they do get awarded and recognised. Our films tend to focus a lot more on the ‘paisa vasool ‘ angle of commercial constraints and run the risk therefore of missing in vital ingredients to do with story telling in its pristine form. It would be a victory if RDB does succed in conveying its essence to the jury.No harm done either way.. but why not add another feather to ones cap..merit deserves to be noticed as wide an audience as possible.
    And I daresay we can teach the westerners a thing or two in certain aspects..mixing genres is one of them and successfully so…MLR, RDB, good examples.:) n yes ”gyanpith’.. and where is the khalbali maiden?? she promised to be around..I miss her instinctive, take on issues.

    Comment by kaveetaakaul — October 1, 2006 @ 6:23 pm | Reply

  8. hi..
    hmmm… we can always teach the world.. as again we were plannin cities wen they were in the caves trying to run from the wildz πŸ™‚
    accha, had sent u a mail on kavitaok
    did u get that.. do lemme know
    how were the pujas??

    Comment by saptarshi — October 2, 2006 @ 7:46 pm | Reply

  9. Hi saptarshi,

    Had to change the address you posted to evade bots from getting it.

    Yeah received the mail..will get back to you on it shortly..Pujas were good:) How were yours? Did you miss being in Cal?

    Comment by kaveetaakaul — October 3, 2006 @ 12:27 pm | Reply

  10. bots πŸ™‚ even am trying to get away from sum!! guess they have infiltrated humanity or gud faith- dunno whic one! pujo was basically three dayz off from making bikes πŸ™‚
    first shoppin exp. with ‘hard earned’ money:) (felt like a king man!! splurge!)n then sporadic pandal hoppin in b’lore n ya.. missed the gud old calcutta… but its been fours yearz now… some where the emotionz have matured!

    Comment by saptarshi — October 3, 2006 @ 1:54 pm | Reply

  11. the films good but i guess its kind of REGIONAL and hence would not be a good choice on a GLOBAL forum. But again not that bad either.

    Comment by khush — October 3, 2006 @ 2:35 pm | Reply

  12. Ahh dont mature if it means numbing you to nostalgia πŸ™‚

    @Khush..yes the film is distinct to its place of origin..but then all films in the foreign language ctegory will surmise thier ethos in some way or another.Finally its a matter of the right combination of the right ingredients in a right setting in a right tale..Right??

    Comment by kaveetaakaul — October 4, 2006 @ 10:57 am | Reply

  13. again u score πŸ™‚ actually sumtimes we all try to be brave naa.. n here was an effort not to be a baby.. but since u really understand wat cooks inside.. well, i always return to innocence!

    Comment by saptarshi — October 4, 2006 @ 2:22 pm | Reply

  14. Oscars are as much about Commerce as Art. Rang De Basanti is definitely a better choice than Paheli last year which was preferred over Black.

    Comment by Hiren — October 7, 2006 @ 7:04 pm | Reply

  15. […] To find more information from the source here […]

    Pingback by Actors, Movies, and Songs » In Wait-Oscar Sachiniti — February 7, 2008 @ 6:08 am | Reply

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