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Is ‘Gully Boy’ really the best film we have to offer for the Oscars?

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Zoya Akhtar’s ‘Gully Boy’ has been unanimously selected by the Film Federation of India (FFI) to represent India in the Best International Feature Film category in the Academy Awards. But is it really an Oscar-worthy film? When we are selecting a film to represent India in the Oscar race, do we really think ‘Gully Boy’ is the best film we have to offer?

It’s sad that these days, more than the content of a film it’s how well it has been packaged is what matters in the Oscar race. But just merely ticking some boxes enough to send a ‘one-time-watch’ film (which many have pointed out is similar to the American film ‘8 miles’) to vie for Oscar? Don’t you think the members of the Academy must have watched ‘8 miles’?

I am not saying ‘Gully Boy’ is a bad film but come on! We all know it doesn’t stand a chance with the world-class cinema with which it will be competing out there. There’s no doubt that both Ranveer Singh and Alia Bhatt are some of the terrific actors of the current generation and their performance in ‘Gully Boy’ is praiseworthy but is the film Oscar-worthy? Nah…I don’t think so. And I am sure many of you will agree with me.

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What will the world think of Indian cinema, when we are selecting a film for Oscars which is not even original? When are we going to show the world that there is more to India than just slums and poverty?

We are the world’s second-most populous country, with one of the largest film industry in the world and yet we haven’t won a single Oscar for a feature film? What does that indicate?

It simply indicates that we are too busy thinking about a film’s visibility in the International markets and pleasing the western sensibilities rather than standing the ground and showing the world what we are made of. I was reading about the procedure of films’ selection for the Academy Awards, and in one of the articles, I read that some of the members in the Academy (involved in the voting process) usually avoid seeing Indian films as all we have to offer is a lengthy feature full of song and dance sequences! Some of the members are also deluded by the fact that in all these years none of our films has been up to the mark. How embarrassing is that?

So are we really making films that are not up to the par with the World-class cinema? No, our filmmakers are indeed making some marvellous films but they are not necessarily from Bollywood. Yes, there’s so much more to Indian cinema than just Bollywood. And it’s a shame that we have not been able to send some of the critically acclaimed regional films for Oscars as we think Bollywood films have more chances of bagging the coveted award.

Last year Rima Das’ ‘Village Rockstars’ (Assamese language) was India’s official nominee for the Oscars. The coming-of-age film is written, edited, co-produced, and directed by Rima, who is a self-taught director. She had to run pillar to post to collect funds in order to make her film visible in the Oscar race. How sad is that? Good films and filmmakers don’t have funds to sustain in the race while mediocre films are being unanimously selected. If Oscar is all about smart marketing and networking, then why can’t we simply select the best film irrespective of its language and then pool in funds to take it ahead in the Oscar race?

Why don’t we have bodies like Film Federation of India ensuring that the selected films and filmmakers get all the needed financial and networking help to represent India on such a big platform? Doesn’t that should be on our priority list? Are we so poor that we can’t even provide the necessary help to the filmmakers? When a film wins an Oscar, does only the director gets the credit? No..the entire nation rejoices the moment. Then why are making a joke of the entire nation on such a big platform? We have been sending entries since 1957,  and yet haven’t bagged a single Oscar for Best Feature Film. Don’t you think that either the selection committee or its rules are flawed and needs to be updated?

Films like ‘Super Deluxe’, ‘AndhaDhun’, ‘Tumbbad’ and ‘Article 15’, and several other critically acclaimed regional films released in the span of October 2018 to September 2019. But unfortunately, they don’t stand a chance according to the members of the selection committee.

I may have not seen all the shortlisted films for India’s official selection for the Oscars, but one thing I am sure of is that ‘Gully Boy’ is not the best choice. So if anyone of you is still wondering about ‘Oscars Mein Apna Time Aayega?’ Well, then we still have a long way to go on that front.

Also Read: Dear Aamir Khan please remember that ‘With great power comes great responsibility’

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