Sunday, September 30, 2007

Of Phoren Phillums Past and Present

The Indian nominee for the Oscar Foreign Film thing has run aground before reaching the western shores. As I mentioned earlier, a comical war of words has come up with everyone and their brother screaming about which film ought to go.

Was there a bias this year, in favour of VVC? Not improbable by a long shot, given the committee's track record:

2007 - Eklavya: AB-baby is the palace guard Eklavya who butts heads with his unacknowledged son, reluctant London-returned prince (white ewe black lamb etc.) Saif Ali Khan, who in turn butts heads with other, evil royals while checking out Vidya Balan's butt. There's a lot of palace scenery and helicopters and so forth in between the skulls cracking. Prediction: Has as much a chance of winning a Foreign Film Oscar as my hindi vlog

2006 - Rang de B: The most over-hyped, feel-good-for-no-reason movie made. Showed a set of hip college kids who role-play for Bhagat Singh and co. Halfway through, a ''serious'' (he joined the Air Force) friend gets killed. Friends get the impression (it's never explained how) that a corrupt minister and a businessman are responsible. Their dharna fails. They have no options left (????) They shoot the two (blossoming from role-players into skilled and ruthless marksmen overnight) and take over a radio station to explain why. As they're shot dead in turn, the ghosts of dead freedom fighters appear. The nation wails in lament. Credits roll. This was selected over Omkara - not only an adaptation of an understandable-to-worldwide-audiences classic, but a movie with an authentic and gritty feel to it.

2005 - Paheli: A horror movie showcasing the kind of hard-on Rani Mukherjee can elicit from the undead, as she falls in love with SRK, a ghost. It gets scarier as you see SRK sport a Rajasthani turban and moustache, and you're haunted forever when you find out Amol Palekhar was the director of this excercise in necrophilia. Selected over Page 3 and Hazaaron Khwaishein Aisi, both of which were again understandable to world-wide audiences AND had a gritty, gut-wrenching pathos in them. Paheli had about a ghost of a ghost of a chance.

2002 - Devdas: Once upon a time there was a young man. He decided to drink himself to death. Sanjay Leela Bhansali then decided to spend 50 crores showcasing his demise. Rather than send his film to Alcoholics Anonymous, the committee decided to send it to Hollywood. In place of, say, Monsoon Wedding.

The committee in short, is either malleable to the wishes of super-Khans, irrespective of film quality; or is phenomenally stupid. Given what we know about Indian goarnament committees, each is equally likely.

Having said that, it's equally idiotic and ungracious of a director to first scream "No fair" and then get a court order challenging Committee rulings. How are they now going to decide the best film? Have court judges or SC justices see both (It would be a unique first for our judges)? Take the two to a Lok Sabha session? Or will they go "Indian Idol" and carry out an SMS campaign? What's to stop a third person from screaming that his/her film was unfairly left out? And in the midst of all this, have any of these films much of a chance at the Academy (I haven't seen Eklavya or Dharm) Awards?

My verdict: Disband the Selection committee and have every director who can, send his/her film to the Oscars. People say films have to be chosen to represent the tastes and aspirations of the "Indian pippuls". Our tastes weren't much to speak of to begin with, and are now confused as well.