India makes about 1500 movies per annum, which is almost half of the total movies made around the world. But how many movies have won an Oscar. Everyone would jump up and say Slumdog Millionaire, but Slumdog Millionaire, Life of Pi and Gandhi which have resulted in Indians winning Oscars were conceptualised, produced and directed by Non-Indians. Everyone in India were flattered by these movies and everyone hoped that these movies would win The Best Picture award in the Oscar,Slumdog Millionaire won this prestigious award. And most celebrated as though this was kind of victory for Indian Movie Industry, but actually its a shame that non of these were completely Indian Movies.
Only 5 indians have won oscars, Bhanu Athaiya, Russell Pookutty, AR Rahaman, Gulzar & Satyjit Ray. Satyajit Ray received honorary award in 1991 and all others have worked in the movies made by foreign production houses.
Most of the Indian movies which are submitted for Oscars are of poor quality and if we have sent a good movie than we don’t publicise in the world market. In 1957, India for the first time sent a movie for Oscars, Mother India and it was also nominated in the final five, but couldn’t get the nod for the Best Foreign Picture. The next two movies which were nominated in the final five were Salam Bombay! (1988) and Lagaan (2001). It’s really surprising for a country which makes about 1500 movies, to fail so miserably in the Oscars.
Why does Indian movie doesn’t win an Oscar or frequently get nominated.
1. We don’t send our best movies to the Oscar: Yes, its true we don’t send our best movie to Oscar. Since 1957, India has sent 45 movies for Oscars only two of these movies won National Award for Best Picture, they were “Apur Sansar” (The World of Apu) by Satyajit Ray and “Adaminte Makan Abu” (Abu, Son of Adam).
In the year 1970, 1975 and 1976 India didn’t send its official submissions, but in these years, “Samskara”, “Chomana Dudi” & “Mrigayaa” had won the national awards. Movie “Samskara” a kannada movie had even won the Bronze prize at Locarno International Film Festival.
In the Year 1998, India sent movie “Jeans” as its official entry, pushing aside movie “Samar” by shyam Benagal which won the national award. But still we chose to send “Jeans” which was a below average movie, because it had one face which was globally recognised around the world – Aishwarya Rai. In the year 2007, “Eklavya – The Royal Guard” was the official entry, but back in India it was proved that it was given an international push because the director pulled the right strings in the selection committee.
2. Palgarised Movies: Most of the movies in India could be categorised as Romcoms (Romance and Comedy) and the storyline of most of these movies are same, but with a minor twist and turns. In the Recent past, most of our movies are beyond logic and are re-makes of an another movie either Indian or Hollywood.
In the year 2012, India sent “Barfi!” as its official submission. But this movie had many scenes which were directly inspired (lifted) from the international classics and how could we expect this to be nominated, let alone win the Oscar. But by sending Barfi! India made a big mistake which sidelined the movies of great caliber in international film arena, may be one these could have garnered an oscar, the movies which lost out to Barfi! were “Kahaani”, “Paan Singh Tomar” and “Dirty Picture”.
3. Cultural Differences : Most of the Indian movies are lengthy when compared to western movies. Most of Indian movies incorporate a minimum of 5 – 6 songs which makes the movies 30 to 35 minutes longer and these songs are most of the times are irrelevant to the story.
Most of the movies which win an Oscar in the Foreign picture category would have a great story and unique characteristics of the host country in the movie.
4. Lack of Publicity : Incase a great movie from india goes for Oscar, the movie is not publicised in the international market to draw right kind of audiences. Many times India sends wrong choice of movies to Oscars and once in a while it sends a great movie, but totally miss out on the pre-nomination publicity that’s required for a movie.
Only movie which received right amount of publicity before being nominated in the Oscar race were, “Lagaan”, “Bandit Queen”, “Salaam Bombay!” & “1947 Earth”.
5. Biased Selection committee in FFI : From 1957 to 2012, India has sent 45 movies to Oscars out of this 30 movies were from Bollywood, but during the same period Bollywood movies which won the National Award were only 8, why this bias while submitting the best movie from India. The biggest losers during this period were the movies from Bengali, Malayalam and Kannada Industry which had 14, 12 and 7 movies respectively.
FFI has been known for its goof-ups which came out publicly on two occasions, while Ekalavya and Barfi! were selected as India’s Official Submission to Oscars.
6. Star & Budget Factor : Indians in recent times aren’t watching sensitive and meaningful movies, rather everyone is behind the movies which has a combination of SuperStars, Big Budget, Gimmicks, Item Song, etc. Many argue that movies is a way of relaxation and entertainment, and totally disregard movies which are very humble, low-budget and Acting based.
Recently a Kannada Movie “Koormavatara” which had won 6 – 7 international awards wasn’t even had a single theatre to be released in Karnataka, as all theatres have been booked for Big Budget Kannada, Hindi, Telugu, English, etc movies. This movie wouldn’t be much different from “Amour”, an austrian film which won the Best Foreign Movie Oscar this year.
7. Meaningless Award Functions : India has multiple Award for each category, for example award for the Leading Actor, the categories would be Best Actor, Most Sensational Actor, Critics Award Male, Viewers choice Award, MoneyMaker Award etc, and in this various categories each and every big star gets an award and acting gets sidelined. In Bollywood alone we have 8 different award ceremonies presented by each and every entertainment channel, and everyone is a winner in these ceremonies.
Look at this example :
Big Star Awards 2012
Best Actor in Comedy: Abhishek Bachchan , Best Actor in Romantic film: Shahrukh Khan, Best Actor in Action: Akshay Kumar, Best Actor Popular: Ranbir Kapoor
Colors Screen Award
Best Actor: Ranbir Kapoor & Irrfan Khan, Best Actor Popular : Salman Khan
Until we change the attitude of our film making and selection process, until than no Indian Movie would win an Oscar. If we conduct a poll most of the people in India would choose a classic movie than the current line of movies. Film Making is an art, but in recent years it has changed to a business model, acting has given way for gimmicks, marketing and item songs. But we have glimmer of hope as we have seen some of new generation movies of Kahaani, A Wednesday, Udaan, Gandhi My Father, Paan Singh Tomar, etc. Let’s hope we do things right and get rewarded with an Oscar in future