What is the name of the film sent as India’s official entry for the 95th Oscar Awards to be held next year? Keep thinking, till then let’s move forward. Do you know that director Rajamouli’s film ‘RRR’ has not been officially sent to Oscars from India? Director Vivek Agnihotri’s ‘The Kashmir Files’ and Ayan Mukerji’s directorial ‘Brahmastra’ are among the films not sent. If the names of these three films are raising your curiosity, then it means that what I am going to say next is probably on the right track.
Actually, it is not easy to know when and when most of the Indian films sent for the Oscar Awards came to the theaters and when they did not stick to the superhit tag. For example, Ranveer Singh and Alia Bhatt’s Gully Boy, which was sent for the 92nd Oscars three years back, was in the news because the film starring big names was a huge commercial success (Rs 238 crore). Similarly, Aamir Khan’s film ‘Lagaan’ (2001) was sent for the 74th Oscar, which was successful in getting nominations as well as being a hit at the box office.
Lagaan was the third successful film to be nominated for the main competition after Mehboob Khan’s Mother India (1957) for the 30th Oscars and Mira Nair’s Salaam Bombay (1988) for the 61st. . Since then till today it is 21 years, no film has been able to reach here. There are many other examples as well, which will continue to be mentioned further.
By the way, the name of the officially selected film for the Oscars to be held in the year 2023 is ‘Last Film Show’. This is a film made in Gujarati language, which is also being called as ‘Chello Show’ or Chello Cinema. The film was released in theaters a few weeks after it was selected for the Oscars in September, which can be called a mere formality. Soon it will also be available on OTT. Meanwhile, RRR has intensified the annual Oscar debate by presenting its claim as an independent film in 14 different categories.
The annual debate because every year we find a new reason not to get the Oscars. Sometimes the choice of film is not right, sometimes the lobbying is not done properly. Sometimes a film is accused of nepotism and sometimes the making is blamed. In 2007, Vidhu Vinod Chopra’s film ‘Eklavya: The Royal Guard’, directed by Pankaj Kapur starrer ‘Dharma’ (2007), had reached the court when it was sent for the 80th Oscar. So in the year 2012, the film ‘Barfi’ directed by Anurag Basu and starring Ranbir Kapoor-Priyanka Chopra, which was sent for the 85th Oscars, was directly accused of scene copying in the name of Prerna. This time many things have come to the fore regarding Chello cinema. The road to getting an Oscar has been a long story of roadblocks, allegations and blame.
Why avoid the criteria
Although there is very little debate on how honestly we are making films. The budget of 300 or 500 crores of a film remains in discussion. There is discussion on VFX, in how many countries it was shot and a lot of news is made on the production value. But where do our films stand on the test of truthfulness, authenticity and credibility regarding their subject, historical facts or contemporary depiction? Often many filmmakers talk about being inspired or inspired by an Indian-foreign film, but how much justice they could do to the original work is not assessed. Or after all the research, what is the use of such facts and information, which are later found to be untrue or cannot be served properly.
Two examples are presented. The first is director James Cameron’s film ‘Titanic’ (1997), which managed to get nominations in 14 categories at the 70th Oscars and won 11 Oscars. Following its worldwide success, in 2012 Neil deGrasse Tyson, an American astrophysicist, drew Cameron’s attention to a scene in the film. The starfield depicted in the climax scene in which Rose (Kate Winslet) is looking at the stars in the sky does not appear to correspond to the latitude and longitude of 1912. Tyson’s claim was based on the study of the composition and physical characteristics of celestial bodies, upon which Cameron pointed out the mistake and asked Tyson to send the correct structure, so that the scene could be corrected.
However, we have not yet reached that era of film making, where work has been done so closely and intensively in any historical importance or science fiction film. Of course, it is not necessary for the director to become a scientist for a science fiction film, but scientific thinking and such an approach can be adopted.
Well, another example is ‘RRR’ which has received worldwide fame and appreciation along with a stupendous commercial success of Rs 1200 crores. Filmmakers like American actor Danny DeVito to James Gunn, The Russo Brothers, Scott Derrickson, Larry Karajewski, Jackson Lenzing, Daniel Kwan, Igar Wright have praised the film. Obviously, the spirits of its makers are very high regarding the Oscars and it is expected that this film can be successful in getting the nomination in the VFX category. RRR has also filled nominations in Best Picture, Director, Original Screenplay, Supporting Actor, Supporting Actress, Best Actor, Cinematography, Make-up, Costume etc.
authenticity and difficulties
Inspired by real characters and events, the story of ‘RRR’ is completely fictional, with the backdrop of the British Raj and 1920’s Delhi and its surrounding areas. In the story, if nothing has been said by the claim, then nothing has been shown by the claim. That is, the depiction of Chandni Chowk, Old Delhi, the banks of the Yamuna and the old iron bridge in Rajamouli’s historical film is the same as Karan Johar’s portrayal of Chandni Chowk in his film Kabhi Khushi Kabhie Gham (2001).
Even though Karan Johar did not claim authenticity, should Rajamouli also be given the exemption like Johar? ‘Lagaan’, which was successful in getting a nomination in the Oscar race, was also a fictional story, which was inspired by the film ‘Naya Daur’ (1957) directed by BR Chopra and starring Dilip Kumar and Vyjayanthimala. Its background has been shown in the year 1893, the British Cantonment. Date wise no claim has been made in this too, but despite being fictional, one does not feel that authenticity towards anything is necessary, while the background of ‘RRR’ is 30 years ahead of this. Today’s filmmakers and their research team can only expect that they would not waste their time in gathering information on the history and importance of the past hundred years.
Actually, now we have reached such an era of film making, where the scope to digest anything in the name of imagination and cinematic freedom is decreasing. The disclaimer that says this fictional story has nothing to do with any person living or dead, or that it may be mere coincidence, is lost at the Oscars or similar forums. Because when filmmakers say that it is a period drama, it means that they have done something different from others. The person in front also examines it on the same basis, whose points indicate the scope of truthfulness and accuracy. After tasting different types of content from all over the world, now our audience is also not the same. That’s why ‘RRR’ has knocked for the Oscars as an independent, but it does not look different from the officially sent entries in the past.
settlement of disputes
By the way, apart from ‘RRR’ and ‘The Kashmir Files’, ‘Brahmastra’, ‘Badhaai Do’, ‘Rocketry: The Nambi Effect’, ‘Anek’, ‘Jhund’, ‘Aparajito’, ‘Sthalam’, ‘Iravin Nijhal’ ‘Chello Show’ has got success after beating 13 films. However, there have also been parallels with the 1988 Italian film, Cinema Paradiso, about Chello cinema. Also that this film was made by a foreign banner, which was later bought by an Indian banner and this film had applied for Oscars last year as well.
Zoya Akhtar directed Gully Boy also had to face allegations of similarity with the film 8 Mile (2002). Probably because of this the nomination of the film from Oscar was also cancelled. By the way, many filmmakers believe that there is no fixed criteria for getting nominations in Oscars. Something similar is seen here while choosing a film for the Oscars. The reason for choosing Chhello cinema is its way of storytelling and its power to grab the attention of the world.
Actually, this is a reason that suits almost every successful film chosen. But we should see what were the reasons behind not choosing Vicky Kaushal’s film last year. Because many times the story of the non-selected films grabs more attention than the selected films. The nomination of ‘Sardar Udham’ (2021), directed by Shoojit Sircar, was removed from the Oscar sending list because the film depicts excessive hatred of Indians towards the British. And in this era of globalization, it is not right to keep hatred.
After knowing this, some people would probably want to curiously see what is meant by excessive hatred. And those who have seen this film, may read these lines again and again that the depiction of extreme hatred, is it really an atrocity towards the British. Suppose for a moment that if only ‘RRR’ had to be chosen this year, wouldn’t the issue of excessive hatred again arise? Because both the films depict the atrocities of the British rule. Or there is also a provision of some kind of special exemption in the name of fictional story. Or is it to be assumed that Lagaan was chosen because, here and there, the level of hatred towards the British was at an all-time low?
If seen in this way, every year a new story will be seen associated with one or the other film. The logic remains missing as to what were the real reasons behind choosing a particular film. Were factors such as its veracity, reliability and accuracy also included. It is worth noting that due to lack of a suitable film, no film was sent for Oscars in the year 2003, whereas for a long time the maximum number of films in the whole world have been made in our country.
How do we know that the decision was right then, when in that year Dr. Chandra Prakash Dwivedi directed ‘Pinjar’, Raju Hirani’s ‘Munnabhai MBBS’, ‘Kal Ho Naa Ho’, ‘Koi Mil Gaya’, ‘Baghban’, There were some films including LOC: Kargil which could have been sent. And even assuming that the decision was correct then, then on what basis ‘Eklavya: The Royal Guard’ was chosen in the year 2007, which was neither commercially successful nor critically appreciated.
isn’t this the ultimate truth
Mentioning a scene from the film ‘Ardh Satya’ (1983) directed by Govind Nihalani and starring Om Puri seems important at the end. In one scene, Inspector Anant Velankar (Om Puri), the hero of the film, sitting in front of the heroine Jyotsna (Smita Patil), starts reciting a poem called Ardh Satya very eagerly. As he moves forward, the expressions of his mind start showing new signs on his face. By the end of the poem, he appears before Jyotsna as a forlorn soul, possessed of both consciousness and fear.
In another scene, Anant wants to tell Jyotsna about his job and how he feels there. He wants to put the truth of his life in front of him, in which there is suffocation, remorse, despair. While doing this, instead of shedding her frustration from her eyes, she just turns red and remains there. He could not make eye contact with Jyotsna sitting in front of him on the chair. While sliding her hand on the table, Jyotsna wants to touch it, but she extends her hand and moves back. The film shows what kind of atmosphere would have been there regarding policing in that era of eighties.
In the form of a document, ‘half-truth’ can be mentioned in many things, which may not have been made with the intention that in view of its accuracy and truthfulness towards the subject, the film will be saved in future. In the mind of the director, a policeman and the half-truth confined around his image, would probably have been in the center. That’s why this film is still talked about for many reasons. What a strange coincidence that no film was sent to compete for three consecutive years after Satyen Bose’s 1980 film Payal Ki Jhankar was sent to the 53rd Oscars. After this gap, ‘Saaransh’, directed by Mahesh Bhatt, which came in 1984, was sent for the 57th Oscar. There will probably be many more films like Ardh Satya, which could have been sent to Oscars but?