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.
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!