Wednesday, January 21, 2009

Who the Ef cares for Oscars?!!!

I read Shekar Kapur's blog regularly. Apart from some not-so-useful stuff he writes, there are some fun posts to read and see what he is upto. To me it seems like he is writing and not some PR agent and also that he is being simple, humble and honest...unlike some Big people who sit on big thrones and let us mere mortals peek into their lavish lifestyle. Anyhow, a recent blog from Mr. Kapur caught my eye, and it was on the movie Slumdog Millionaire and the comments that followed for the post.

I spoke with G about it last night about how a movie about a kid from our slums becoming a finalist in KBC (or Who wants to be a Millionaire) receives four Golden Globe nominations but at the same time other Indian movies that are equally as good or better than this fare don't get heard anywhere other than in India?

You ask me what movies? Last year we had Aamir, A Wednesday and crores of other movies in Tamil, Telugu, and Malyalam. Aamir had a tight script and a wonderful story and amazing direction just like Slumdog did, so why isn't Aamir an International Hit? Because it was made by an Indian who has not directed any other critically acclaimed movies (like Trainspotting) before? Why?

Why should I be asked to tout Slumdog as an Indian movie just because it has Indian characters in it? Because I should be proud of the slums and a kid diving into a poop-pool that I so do not relate to at all? Because all my friends think that Indians get castrated as a policy? Because now people think that Hindus kill Muslims all the time (no I do not want a religious discussion)? Because I am now happy that we are finally in the international press due a picture that depicts a rags to riches love story of a boy looking for his childhood sweetheart? A boy who clearly speaks with a British accent and has nothing to do with India? I do not relate to all this. I am sure people who live in Dharavi do not relate to all this.

After ranting it out to G, he told me that the point is the West relates to India being nothing but slums. We might not have been raised in slums but for the West India is a country of snake charmers and people who swim in poop. Ya, he told me to face the truth. The truth that my 3000 SFT house with additional 3000 SFT land for us to play badminton or kabaddi cannot be told to anyone here becaue they will think that I am lying (I have photos!). They cannot come to face with the truth that Mysore Palace and the many palaces in Rajasthan can kick Buckingham Palace's ass anyday even 400 years ago...So I must let go, he told me.

I argued.

He then told me only one thing can be done then. We should not care a damn for Oscars. Remember BCCI? Board of Cricket Control of India? Well the entire cricket world now looks towards BCCI for commands. Why? Becaue India is the worlds largest cricket playing nation with maximum number of viewers. And what India wants is what the world will do for it when it comes to cricket. And we should do the same to the cinema world too.

We afterall make the maximum number of movies. We spend more money into entertainment than Hollywood does. Then why should we be worried about what the West thinks of us? We should in fact go ahead and include a category called "Best Foriegn Picture" and start giving away awards to movies from the west. The only problem he pointed out was that our Filmfare awards are uber-biased and that we should work on fixing that!

That conclusion made me slightly happy knowing very well that the cinema industry is surely heading in that direction only. Wouldn't you agree with that? Don't you also think that Indian movies do not need an Oscar but they indeed need to get nominated respectfully and truthfully by their own country and peers from their own industry? How can we select only one film from the millions we make to send for an Oscar nomination do justice to our cinemas? I think henceforth we must not really give to much credit to Oscar and only compare and focus movies in the realm of Indian cinema.

PS: Do you think The people of Rawanda also felt the same way we did after they saw Hotel Rawanda?

PS: The only great outcome from Slumdog Millionaire I think is the fact that A R Rahman got a Golden Globes and that he thanked the one billion Indians who stood behind him! But then did I not say above that I should not care about Oscars or other western awards? Damn I am confused!


Megha Bansal said...

Same thing like i said in the last post. THEY don't want to think of India as a force they can reckon with. It shakes them to think that there is such dearth of talent in India, that India is something else and not the potholes, the slums, the 'wild life on the road' or the country taking away their jobs!

G's reasoning is right. maybe we should do that and maybe our National Awards can have an International section, those seem fairer to me! what do you think?

i think we all crave recognition. coz in the end, aren't we talking about the west recognizing us for what we really are?

Shilpa said...

Well written but I disagree.
When have other Indian movies had an international premiere? Have they ever gone to film festivals? I do not think that Slumdog won international acclaim because it was made by a Brit. Or for that matter any good movie made by an indian will not win the same acclaim. The international community atleast has to know that a good movie made by an indan exists for it to praise it. All we do is send lightweights to international festivals. We need to send our well made, hard hitting movies too.
About what you said about Indian palaces kicking Buckingham's ass, we need to put our national monuments in the tourists' face and so called 'tom tom' it for them to take notice. We need to blow our own horn. I was at the Taj Mahal this winter and I was shocked at how badly maintained the whole area it, even though The Taj itself has a very divine and pristine aura.

Anu Russell said...

MG...I am just angry that we have been reduced to a country that we were 100 years ago...thank you Brits!

Shilpa, I think we do send our movies to the international festivals and hte only sad thing is that not all of them get selected...

again the sadder thing is that only movies with Ash or Bachhan or SRK get here because of lobbying and dollar until we get rid of that I don't think we can do much...

I agree...our tourism industry sucks...lets start talking about public toilets first...gosh! Monuments are let to go to ruin! Man!

Trevor Penn said...

That part about the best foreign film made me chuckle. Can we call it the best alien film, please?

P said...

I was annoyed too! Infact I do not think SD is as gr8 as ppl have made it out to be... it has the typical British editing which is abrupt and a confused director who lets his main lead talk in hindi as a little boy and then suddenly he flaunts flawless English with a British accent??!! I mean shouldnt he atleast have an Indian accent?? The pathetic reasoning of him working in a British call center is just not justifiable!

About shooting locations... the only reason (that I can think of) for incessant focus on Dharavi and others of its kind is that many of the foreign film makers treat the slums like some kind of weird "attraction" of Mumbai! I mean they must be sub consciously thinking where else can we see this??!!! (GRRRR....) There are more than a billion Indians out there and they do not care/want/bother about the westerners sympathy (as I rather believe that's what the director is trying bring out rather than plain revulsion)!!

On a slightly less heated note... did you see that program I texted you about?? It was wonderful! They had shot Tamil and Kerala so beautifully! Now thats what the world should also see...and not just Dharavi and then Taj to make their program/film unbiased!!

ALso... 3000 SFT wow! :)

Anonymous said...

Coz Aamir is an inspired movie..and not an original?It is inspired from a fillipino movie called Cavite?

hoardes of bollywood movies are inspired and so they dont deserve any special to me about regional..then yes..i agree...

Anu Russell said...

Trevor, anything you please!

P, I liked that program you spoke about only in parts. I was not very excited about the guys pronunciation and using Wiki directory to trace through India. Some of the accounts are so un-rooted...anyways that is my personal opinion.

Anony darling,
I did not know that about Aamir. Thanks for the info. Probably they should get in a category called "Best Inspired Movie." Afterall inspiration or imitation also is an art. Right? hehehe...

On a serious note. I agree there are hordes of Tamil/Mallu movies that I have seen that are way better than slumdog.

thanks for dropping by and time a name will work wonders :)

Anonymous said...

How come these people cant take a movie showing the other side of India too.. Whenever they show India in any American channel, most of the time its the slums or poverty.

Today I was talking to one guy who work with me, and he was telling, he didnt want to even think about moving to India permanently because he saw in channels, that there is a lota poverty. However, when he saw the mumbai hotel in attack, looking at the hotel he thought "hmmm so they do have posh things"... I didnt want to say anything... but wth...

Anonymous said...

I am an American born and raised. I was raised poor, on a farm, and certainly not in a 3,000 square foot house. So does the movies, like Urban Cowboy, TV show Dallas, or more recent Friday Night Lights make me the stereotypical Texan? Friday Night Lights was nothing but the hopes and dreams of getting out of a crap town and make big money. And this film was made in my town and a couple other small towns in East Texas. Let's face it movies are to make money.

I do not live in a big white house like on the TV show Dallas, and I never had oil wells in my backyard.

I think having a film, a FILM brought to the faces of "us" Americans is a good thing! Even though it had the rags to riches themes, the slums, etc.. it does exist, but, do you think a movie would sell if it were made all about your 3,000 square foot house? I doubt it.

There is a great PBS show about India, but do you think Americans will pay 9.00 to see it....

I think Indians in America, might realize is that this is a chance to educate people about your culture. There is a Cast system from many many centuries. Is it just anger that a movie was made about kids in a slum??

I feel Americans will accept it more that American jobs are going to India, if they see that it is a country of many talents, cultures, etc if this movie portrays the poor, and the trying hard and will to succeed in any way possible. I will speak freely and say that I know way too many Americans that can not stand the fact Indians are here. It is just the way it is, when people feel threatened.

Just look at the opportunities to educate each other.


When is Bollywood going to stop making musicals...? I think only the American women will sit and watch a musical... LOL

Anu Russell said...

Corey!!! Welcome to my blog! I am glad to have your perspective here also. This is fun! You should come regularly and tell me what you feel like and don't be Corey! Well you know how I guessed it is you :)

I love what you said at the end...that this might end a person's misconception of India. But again I am not convinced. And like you truly pointed out to India cannot be canned into 2 hours. But then again I agree with the fact that people are not going to watch the PBS program...darn...

So yes, the decision is conflicting. If you read my movie review for SDM I was super hyper and excited. But then as the hype settles down most Indians are not very excited about the movie.

Just like I wrote. There are many other movies that are sterotyping India made by Indians, wonder why they never see the light of the day in the West.

And like I told you on facebook, you and R will never be getting into any of these places that you saw on SDM unless of course you ask for it. But yes, the rest of it, the dust, the crowd, the nosy people, you will find loads of them everywhere :)

Have a safe trip and keep me updated on Facebook and brings back lots of me before you leave... :)

Isis said...

In the spirit of movies, a movie is a movie is a movie. I was born and bought up in India just like you. I loved the movie. For the story, for the acting (mainly the child characters), the screenplay, direction, music. I dint think of the Oscars, or how the movie represented India in the eyes of foreiners. Its just simply a good movie. Agreed there are many as good, if not better movies out there, made by Indians, but I'll have less complications in life if I did not think about why they are not nominated for Oscars. Wednesday is one such movie that crosses my mind. I am not a big movie buff nor have I researched into the facts much to say that theres a foul play here or even to point fingers at one entity. As long as I enjoyed the movie, I got my monies and times worth! And as far as the movie not representing the life you and I had in India, the story did not have to. I really did not feel the need of identifying my life in India with that of anyone in the movie. The lives of the characters are fascinating by themselves and thats what kept me riveted to my seat. Talk about how the guy in the train pulls on the boy hanging from top of the train, I totally was mad at that scene. I dont think someone would do that in real life. Thats gross misrepresenting. Apart from that, I do not have any complaints about the movie.

Anyways, good write though. Take it easy!