Thursday, January 18, 2007

Why does an Oscar matter?

Why does an Oscar matter? Well, that’s the obvious question when a worthy contender like ‘Rang De Basanti’ loses the race for top five. Mahesh Bhatt would say that gunning for an Oscar is depicting slavish mentality. He was critical of Aamir Khan when he almost won India its first Oscar with ‘Lagaan’. Especially because Aamir doesn’t support any of the home made awards anyway.

Aamir on his part has always said that the manner in which the nominations and awards are decided by the Oscar academy is impressive and more or less transparent. In fact the methodology is scientific. Today, when a ‘Kabhi Alvida Na Kehna’ rakes in $3 million overseas, it is termed as the biggest Bollywood grosser ever. Just imagine, if an Indian film wins an Oscar, that number can easily stretch to $50 million for even foreigners would be keen on finding out what the film has to deserve an Oscar. It won’t be easy to calculate that number in rupees on your office calculator !

Now, ‘Water’ is part of the race. Even if it is a Canadian entry, it does have the staple John Abraham in it. The film industry shouldn’t lose heart on RDB ‘not making it’ (there must be many who are rejoicing this loss right now). Instead, there ought to be a collective noise about ‘Water’. And we have enough numbers overseas to do that for us.

Whatever may be ‘Water’s’ fate at the Oscars this year, it is also time for the film industry to get its act together. Why should only a producer (UTV in RDB’s case) push his or her film when selected for an Oscar? Why shouldn’t it be a collective responsibility of the entire film industry? And when the government has the tools to select the best film for Oscars, why doesn’t the same government forward its support (both monetary as well as official assistance through ambassadors) to push the country’s luck ahead? An Oscar will be a big leap for Indian films. Indian films have certainly more to offer than Satyajit Ray and Bhanu Athaiya.

It’s time we took Oscars seriously rather than shrugging them aside. It’s time we devised a strategy to do get in serious reckoning. It’s time Indian films made their presence felt. Literally.

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