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Paheli's pathetic Oscar run

Opinions swayed between dejection to lack of understanding of B'wood idiom.

india Updated: Feb 02, 2006 17:14 IST

When it comes to Bollywood, opinions have always been sharply divided.

Indians, for decades have felt the West closed its eye to Bollywood's language of expression and chose to selectively look at only a section of regional cinema.

The West, on its part, always thought of Bollywood as Hollywood's poor cousin and never felt it necessary to acknowledge its existence.

The mainstream Hindi cinema never stood a chance at the Oscars or other prestigious film festivals. Understandably, Government of India never sent them as the official entry.

However, all perceptions changed when Aamir Khan's Lagaan received a rousing reception across the film capitals of the world. Look how Devdas was received at the Cannes, at least by the officials!

With increasing Bollywood consciousness across the globe, the Government of India too realised that sending masala stuff was no faux pas.

That's how Paheli found its way to the Oscars as India's official nominee in the Best Foreign Film category. They argued that it showcased vintage rustic India, had a serious theme but was presented with the typical Bollywood flourish.

Alas, the Motion Pictures Academy in Los Angeles didn't quite think so. Even our surfers seem divided in their opinion.

What's surprising is that most supporting its nomination were non-Indians!

Here's how it went:

Pitching in strongly in favour of Paheli was an ardent supporter from Germany.

Kirsten wrote, "I feel very sorry Paheli failed to get a place in the nominations for the Oscars."

"For me and lot of other female German fans, the film is an encouragement to support the emancipation of women around the globe. No other movie describes the feeling of a woman in the way Paheli does. And I think every woman in the world knows the feeling of being alone."

"In my opinion, Paheli is a movie for women told like a fairytale with a serious background. I'm very sad that some people won't realise it. But I feel India's film industry will be recognised by a global audience one day. This film has given the Hindi film industry the possibility to get a place in the world of international cinema and entertainment."

Irrespective of the film's cinematic worth, how one hoped Motion Picture guys saw this logic!

Clare from Bristol in UK expressed similar sentiments. "All I can say is they must be mad not to recognise the beauty, talent, skill etc of this film. A great pity! Indian films should get more recognition," she said ruefully.

However others weren't that charitable. RS from US was very caustic in his remarks.

"Please remember that movies such as Parineeta are just not good films! If Indian cinema truly wants a global audience then they must be truly Indian and include regional cinema. This is where the heart of the country lies as they often depict the indigenous culture. Bollywood is in nowhere land and is suffering from a huge identity crisis."

Dr Gyan Khare from Huntington Beach, USA too didn't see much sense in sending Paheli to the Oscars but chose to comment on a different line.

"A movie which has merit from various points of view including the theme, art, value to the audience could have been a better competitor in the Oscar race. Paheli lost out on the Oscar race even before it actually began. All it had pomp and show, well-known actors and nothing else. That's about it."

The presence of stars should not have been the criteria. Rather the concept, story and relevance to the audience should have been the deciding factor for inclusion in the Oscar contest. Could Black have been a better movie for the competition?

Jags from New York too felt it was a worthless choice for the biggest spectacle of world cinema. He laughed at India being the biggest producer of films in the world and rebuked us for not being able to make one movie of international acclaim.

"It is a shame! We should stop mixing politics and art and next year. Please send a sensible picture," he said in utter disgust.

Mohan Lal Gupta, Cambridge, Canada too wondered at the cultural 'rootlessness' or mishmash that Bollywood has come to represent. He chose to comment on one aspect of Hindi films, use of Hindi. He felt that there is too much of English and Urdu being used for it to merit the tag of 'Hindi' films.

Overall, one imagines this is a transition phase. A moment in time when the most of India (masses and intelligentsia) is waking up to the fact that Indian film fraternity's international representation will have to be more broad-based. It would have to tell Indian stories in a fashion acceptable both to Indians and others.

First Published: Feb 02, 2006 17:14 IST