There was a very lively discussion on NDTV 24*7 about 'Whether India sends its best films for Oscar Awards' yesterday (21st September). Hosted by Sonia Singh, the panel had Prasoon Joshi (who needs no more introduction, but for those who don't know still, he is the guy behind 'Thanda matlab CocaCola', Creative Director (South and South-East Asia) McCann Ericsson and lyricist of 'Rang De Basanti'), Vinod Pandey (producer, director and head of the Jury that selected 'Paheli' as India's entry last year!) and Saibal Chaterjee (journalist and film critic).
Vinod Pandey looked almost embarrassed and apologetic as almost everyone asked him why was 'Paheli' sent as India's official entry. He mumbled something about film being 'seeped in Indian ethos' which nobody accepted. Joshi made a very important point to which I agree completely: Our film industry is still not sure whether it wants an Oscar or not. On one hand seniors like Amitabh Bachchan say that we don't need an Oscar and on the other we send our films with a lot of pomp (within India ofcourse, in the west nobody even knows about it!). The result: consider these gems:
- In 2003, no film was sent.
- In 2002, 'Devdas' was sent when according to critics there were better non-Hindi (I don't liking 'regional' word) films in the fray.
- In 1998, India sent 'Jeans'. The reason, producer Ashok Amritraj was leading the selection committee. (Contrast this with 'Paheli', when Amol Palekar resigned from the National Award committee since his film was a contender.)
- In 1991, 'Aagantuk' was the national award winner, 'Lamhe' was the Filmfare awardee yet India sent RK Films' Rishi Kapoor starrer 'Henna'!!
Another thing that I noted was that all the top contenders for this year's entry are Hindi films only, even if it means having a crap like 'Kabhi Alvida Na Kehna'.
There is a need of having a broader look at 'Indian' cinema and select the best and for God's sake keep vested interests out of this. Otherwise nobody is stopping us from sending movies and expecting some miracle to happen! We have got plenty of experience of this.