I loved Slumdog Millionaire. I have written about it in this blog also. But the current Oscar frenzy about ‘Bollywood reigning the Oscars’ made me a little embarrassed.
First of all, why is Oscars so important to us? Is it ‘the accomplishment’ that an Indian film maker can think of? Will we be confident about the greatness of one of our films only if it get the Oscars? After making the story less culturally alien to others? Censoring the songs in that process? Stuffing Indian English in the mouth of actors like hot potatoes? Packaging ourselves in a way that is exotic but contextually irrelevent to ourselves? Ironing out the vast diversity to present an acceptable but unidimensional face?
Why Oscars has so much buzz? Because it holds the attention of a major proportion of the film lovers. Its about the movies that they have seen and enjoyed. The same thing cannot be said about Cannes. Its all about the ruthless money making brilliance of Hollywood.
Now coming to Slumdog Millionaire. The problem is not only that if you take best 20 songs of AR Rahman, ‘Jai Ho’ wont be among them. The problem is that our joy about recognition for him depends on his working in a film where western sensibilities will have to be satisfied. I am not talking about showing poverty when talking about western sensibilities. If we have poverty we should sublimate that in art, not hide it.
I am saying that I would have been more happy if ‘Black Friday’ or a ‘Paruthiveeran’ or an ‘Elipathaayam’ won an Oscar. Because they inform me. but SDM only entertains me. If the same film was made by the same crew but produced by UTV instead of Fox pictures, I doubt whether it would have had the same run at the Oscars. Thats what makes me uncomfortable about the whole thing.
Its not only about talent. Marketing, being under the umbrella of the big brother, peaking at the right moment, goodwill, buzz and plain old luck. You need all of it. Just like life.