The Indian media covered the Oscars through the day and, as expected, TV ratings went through the roof.
Of course, for every Jai Ho, there seem to be a hundred doubts, accusations and cribs. I felt some of these were out of place and uncalled . So I thought that I will put down some of the complaints and put in my two bits:
- "Would it have got the same recognition if an Indian made the film?" No, it wouldn't because the Oscars are awards for American/ English cinema. Our cinema is not American. Barring Karan Johar perhaps.
- "This is not Rahman's best work and he has done better?" Same logic. He hasn't composed for American/ British so was not eligible for his 'better' pieces. And what's wrong if he didn't win it for his best performance. The fact that he won for what was entered is what matters. As an aside, Russel Crowe won the best actor award for 'Gladiator' and not for 'A Beautiful Mind'. Wasn't the latter much better. Back home, Amitabh Bachchan won the National Award for 'Agneepath'. Surely not his best work!
- "Why didn't Rahman mention Sukhwinder or Gulzar?" Give the guy a break. He won us two Oscars. That way you can say Pookutty didn't mention Rahman. I think this is a time to celebrate rather than spoil the party. By the way Gulzar keeps saying continuously that the entire credit goes to Rahman.
- "Danny Boyle has exploited India's poverty" To start with Boyle was making a film and was not doing an ad film for India. Secondly the poverty shown was a part of the backdrop - they did show middle class India, restaurants, five stars, plush TV stations, etc. Thirdly Hindi films have often shown their protagonists as Slum Dwellers including Bachchan's Amar Akbar Anthony & Deewar, every second Mithun film and so on. Its just that they were shot tackily with no attention to detail. In fact by showing the squalour of slums, riots, beggar rackets, tourist harassment, Danny Boyle has reminded us of a hard reality which we would like to wish away. I guess it is difficult to take criticism. (People say I don't take to criticism well. All I have to say to them is, "Boo!")
- "Why are we celebrating? This is not an Indian film" That's true we have adopted this film like its nobody's business. The truth is that the film is made by an Irish director. And completely rewritten by an America (?) writer. Simon Beaufont really deserved the best adopted screenplay award as the film is completely different from, and leagues ahead of, the book. True, the film was not made by Indians. BUT most of the actors and technicians were Indian. The film was as brown as it gets. Only the credits and Dev Patel's British accent were there to remind us of the origins of the film
- "What's so special about the film? This is the same plot of a million Hindi films" True. The makers of the film have taken typical Hindi film idioms - separated brothers, destiny, love through ages, the vctory of the underdog - and packaged them in a world class way with some excellent cinematography, story telling and acting, especially from the children. Think of the master Rajus and Baby Guddis or that irritating girl of Kuch Kuch Hota Hey and then think of the child actors here. You will know what I mean
- "Anil Kapoor went over the top with his dance steps and star gazing. He was not the main actor in any case" I don't think that most of us can even relate to his level of achievement. He has reached parts where no Indian mainstream hero has. One would have perhaps expected Bachchan, Amir Khan, Sharukh Khan to be shown on the screen when the Oscars were announced. Not good old Munna! And exuberance makes people do strange things. Remember Pat Cash climb up stuffy Wimbledon to kiss his girlfriend? Or a certain Mr Ganguly strip at the equally stuffy Lords? Or Halle Berry scream at the time keepers, or Michael Moore scream at George Bush at the Oscars? Cut the guy some slack. And as far as his not being the main actor is concerned, Anil Kapoor was a part of the team. And he didn't have a blink and you miss it role. That counts for something. Sunil Gavaskar didn't do well too well in the 1983 World Cup win. But he is still central to any World Cup memory and celebrations
- "Why get excited about Oscars? They are not about our cinema" Why were Indians crazy about Levis, Nike, McDonalds, Toyota, Coke before they were launched in India? These are global brands and we like to see ourselves as global citizens
Can you think of anymore prominent objections?
PS Did you notice how Hollywood seemed to have looked to Bollywood for a change on Oscars night? Gone were the witty anchors of yore as Hugh Jackman sang and danced us through the evening. And of course the interspersed TV shots of Brangelina and Jennifer Anniston were as Filmfare'ish as they get. I was referring to the way they pan on Amitabh and Jaya Bachchan and Rekha when one of them is getting feted at Indian awards.