Tuesday, March 27, 2007

Indian Movies At Oscars - Case Studies

In the previous articles we have discussed the Expectations, Causes of Failure and the Importance of Oscars. This post covers a few case studies, which could not make a successful performance at the Oscars in the past.

Mother India (1957)

Produced and Directed by Mehboob Khan, Mother India is perhaps the ultimate tribute to womanhood. Why Mother India couldn't make it at the Oscars -

  • The length of the movie
  • Apartheid was on a high during that time, which might have been another cause of failure

Salaam Bombay! (1988)

Produced and Directed by Mira Nair, Salaam Bombay chronicles the day-to-day life of children living on the streets of Mumbai. All the children acting in the movie were real street children, given proper training for the movie. Why Salaam Bombay! couldn't make it at the Oscars -

  • The cast was totally unknown
  • The movie was not properly marketed, especially in India, which retarded it's promotion in the Oscars

Lagaan: Once Upon A Time In India (2001)

Produced by Aamir Khan and directed by Ashutosh Gowariker, Lagaan is probably one of India's finest movie, mixing the British rule with Cricket. Though it was a splendid movie, it lost to “No Man’s Land”, dealing with two wounded soldiers caught in the no man’s land. Why Lagaan couldn't make it at the Oscars -

  • The movie was taken at a time when the British ruled India; the movie had nothing to do with the present times, which became a important cause of its failure

Rang De Basanti (2006)

Though this movie was not even nominated to the Oscars, let us even consider why it could not succeed. Produced and Directed by Rakeysh Omprakash Mehta, Rang De Basanti is one of the movies, which inspired the youth of the country to a large extent. The entire movie moves in and out of the time of freedom struggle and portraits many freedom fighters. Why Rang De Basanti couldn't make it at the Oscars -

  • As already said, the movie moves in and out of the past. Though the concept was good, it created a huge confusion among the viewers at times, which as a result led to its failure

These were a few movies that we can discuss now, though there are other movies still left for discussion, there's no point in doing that now. Let's move ahead and hope that we can create a movie that will put the Indian culture in front of the world, and thus succeed in getting an Oscar.

Indian Movies At Oscars - Importance Of Oscars

What makes Oscars important for Indian movies?

  • To achieve international appreciation
  • To increase the market of Indian films worldwide
  • As we deserve it

We all know that winning an academy award is nothing but achieving international appreciation so it’s important for us to win it to prove ourselves.

And by winning this award the range of market, for our films increases, which make the film, do well at box office. And this means the producer wouldn’t be at loss due to the lack of non-commercial elements in his movie.

The important thing is that we deserve the academy award for our films, there is no doubt that some discrimination towards Indian films exists otherwise it’s ridiculous that we haven’t won it till now even though decades have passed since its inception.

Do we really need an Academy award?

  • As it’s just a normal award like any other
  • As we have a national award which is more important
  • As we already have a huge market for our films in abroad

We unnecessarily think about an award which is not for us and not given by someone who could understand our culture, emotions and feelings so why should we give it importance moreover we have won lots of appreciation for our films in other film festivals like Cannes film festival.

We do have a national award, which is more important for us, rather than a award which doesn’t belong to us. As many of Indian people are staying abroad, because of them there is already a huge market existing worldwide for Indian movies this is the reason for Indian movies doing well at abroad.

Does the hype created by media for Oscar’s necessary?

Every year when the ad’s for Oscars starts in television channels the media starts creating hype for it and gives it more importance than our national awards. They never telecast the national awards ceremony but they do it for academy awards. It’s the media, which is creating an unnecessary discussion about the awards and they even mention every time that we weren’t nominated even after knowing the reasons.

Indian Movies At Oscars - Causes Of Failure

  • Politics in Indian selection committee
  • Differences between local film industries here
  • A good number of films being produced yearly
  • Most of the movies being the remakes of English ones
  • Less number of movies produced for the sake of human values

To explain the above terms briefly, let’s talk about the politics in Indian selection, we actually have a selection committee in India to select a movie among the Indian movies to send as the Indian entry to the Oscars. The committee consists of the members coming from different territories of India and they support the films of their region without looking for standards and the film from a region with more number of members will be selected irrespective of the standards. Due to this reason the film "Water" has been nominated for Oscars as a Canadian entry though being an Indian film.

Differences between the Indian film industries imply that we have many languages here in our country and each language has its own film industry. Most of the people abroad think that Indian films implies Hindi films but the actual fact is we have here films being produced in more than 25 languages and equal importance not being given to the films of all languages, every year it’s only a Hindi film that’s being selected as the Indian entry.

Yearly thousands of films are being produced in India and not even one film is being nominated for Oscars. Our films are not nominated at least for alternate years or at least for once in five years. From this we can understand the standard of our film making.

Another main reason is that famous English flicks inspire many of our films. Many of the Indian movies suffer the tag of plagiarism. Most of the popular Hindi and Telugu movies are remakes of a foreign movies or an English itself. A few of them are Josh (West Side Story), Shakti (Not Without My Daughter), Jism (Double Indemnity), Koi Mil Gaya (Extra Terrestrial). We cannot blame anyone for this fact since; it would be ridiculous if a foreign award was to be given to movie which itself is a copy of a foreign movie.

Here in India, films are produced to just entertain the people rather than for the sake of human values. The reason for this is that people here don’t show much interest towards a movie with less dose of entertainment and more of message or other stuff and due to this the films made for values doesn’t do well at the box office.

Non-realistic approach of a film implies the way we show certain things in our movies that doesn’t take place in real life. For example in an English if an actor flies in air or some thing he is shown as if he has super powers whereas in our movies the hero himself who is meant to be a common man has all the powers of a superman. Even in English they make films based on just imagination but not real but they give all the appropriate conditions to make that look true but here in our films a mother could know whatever happens to his son who is miles far away from her, we call it emotion or sentiment and they call it rubbish. But we can’t help it as our films are based on our culture and for the sake of Oscars we can’t change it.

Indian Movies At Oscars - Expectations Of The Jury

Previous Oscar Winners

The Oscar is a distant dream for the country's top award-winning filmmakers, but as thought it is not that we have never got an Oscar award.

  • Bhanu Athaiya (1982) is the first Indian to get an Oscar. She received the Costume Design Award for her movie Ghandhi
  • Satyajit Ray (1992) got an Oscar in the Lifetime Achievement Category

However these awards are customarily thought to be some sort of consolation.

What does the jury expect from a movie?

  • A Good Script is something which properly conveys the message that the director imagines in his mind
  • Realistic Approach in the sense to approach the script in most common way as if the story happened really and what if it happens really and all those cases which may take place if the story of the script is real
  • Natural Way of Taking is to shoot the scenes so that the viewers feel that they were real
  • A Good Cast is very necessary as they should suit the characters of the film and should enact them properly
  • Proper publicity is to make the film reach the people near and abroad
  • Movies should be made Straight to the Point instead of beating around the bush. On an average a movie in our country lasts for nearly for two and a half hours or three hours, on the other hand their films are just for about an hour and an half or two

Indian Movies At Oscars - Introduction

Recently few of my friends (Raghuveer, Bhanu Kishore, Swetha and Mounika) and I disturbed by the fact that India never won an Oscar decided to present a case study on the "Position of India at the Oscars" in a Non-Technical seminar at our college. This and the following few articles are about it.

The Academy Awards popularly known as the Oscars, are the most prominent and most watched film awards ceremony in the world. Awarded annually by the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences (AMPAS) since 1929 in Los Angeles. It recognizes excellence in many aspects of motion picture making such as acting, directing and screenwriting. AMPAS is a professional honorary organization which as of 2007 has a voting membership of 5,830. Actors (with a membership of 1,311) make up the largest voting block at 22%. The votes have been tabulated and certified by the auditing firm PricewaterhouseCoopers.

The only award that concerns us is the Best Foreign Language Film started in the year 1947. It is an yearly award for the best film in a language other than English. Though the award is given to the director, it is considered as an award to the Country of origin. Every year in each country a jury in that country can select the best non-English film of that country they may submit to the Academy. These form the so-called longlist. Five of these are nominated and one of them wins.