So What is Up with India and The Oscars?
It does not matter how much we grow in our strength, technological power, policies, humanity, or art and entertainment, India on the world stage is often reduced to that insignificant yet moderately accurate scene in Slumdog Millionaire. Slumdog Millionaire is what happens when you tell a doctor to play an engineer. Of course, he is going to use his skills but what will turn out in front of us would be so deplorable that you will rather hire someone else.
I significantly remember the time when Slumdog Millionaire had created a huge plethora of conversations around Anil Kapoor, India, and the slums of India. Honestly, it was not good. It was true, but not cool. Nonetheless, Slumdog ended up winning 8 Academy Awards (Oscars) and thus reignited that passion in Indian Filmmakers to be recognized at an international level.
India has had 52 film submissions to date in the Oscars and only 3 films have ever been nominated to date, these are Mother India, Salaam Bombay, and Lagaan.
The real reason I even came so close to writing this article would be one, a friend of mine told me to abide by my interest and two, it really confused me. It confused me as to how films like Gully Boy, Barfi, Newton, Court did not even come close to being nominated. Is it because the content is too heavy emotionally? Is it region-specific? Is it an issue of bias? Or is it that we are not as good as we think we are?
Now, with my limited experience, I have seen some Oscar-nominated and winning movies over the years. ’12 years a slave’, ‘Julie and Julia’, ‘The Help’, ‘1917’, ‘Moonlight’, ‘The Shape Of Water’, ‘Marriage Story’ and many more. I loved them. Each and every one of them. This was some highly emotional, gut-wrenching, soul-crushing, and insanely good cinema. But I have also loved ‘Jeans’, ‘Barfi’, ‘Newton’, ‘Lagaan’. They made my heart and head go gaga. Then what am I missing? Is it the L-word?
The Language Factor
For the longest time, I thought that the reason why we are not getting nominated is that people do not understand the language. English is a universally spoken language. Hence, it is easy for all of us to relate and understand it. Hence, the awards are biased. Understanding the language is an important step in getting the emotions behind the scene, words give emotional meaning. Words give a frustrated man the medium to voice those feelings out. BUT, Parasite proved me wrong.
Indian Cinema is coming of age. It is. There is no shame in admitting that. We are not there yet, but we are coming. The real reason we are not given the international platform is that we are not taking it. We are still in the indefinite loop of a masala-top actor-little bit of story-music-dance. The stories are getting repetitive, the cast is getting old, the work is becoming weak. I am not saying we didn’t have some coming of age stories, Gully Boy was the literal definition. But honestly, it is like a needle in the haystack. As to the question of what can Indian Cinema do? The answer would be as simple as to wake up and smell the coffee.
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