With Newton being rejected in the very first round of the Oscar selections in the Best Foreign Film Category, the Indian film fraternity is heart-broken.
Naseerudddin Shah said, “Newton was India’s unanimous choice for the Oscars. Yet it was rejected as it was found to be a copy of an Iranian film.”
Newton was India’s unanimous choice for the Oscars. Yet it was rejected as it was found to be a copy of an Iranian film
— Naseerudddin Shah, actor
Till date except for Lagaan, no other Indian film has come close to winning an Oscar. Lagaan too lost to the Norwegian classic, No Man’s Land.
What ails Indian cinema, that none of our films ever make it to the Oscars? In Shekhar Kapur’s opinion, “The selection norms at the Oscars are very strict.
The selection norms at the Oscars are very strict. Every aspect of the language of cinema matters. Originality is a must
— Shekhar Kapur,
Every aspect of the language of cinema matters. Originality is a must.” Speaking along the same lines, Manoj Kumar says, “Our audience likes a thali type of cinema. A combination of emotions, comedy and action is what entertains Indian audiences. At the Oscars, however, cinema is evaluated very differently.”
Mother India in 1957 received the full backing of the film industry as well as the Indian Government. Yet it could not make it to the Oscars because of its length, songs and dances. The late Raaj Kumar had said, “In Mother India, the crescendo was missing.” Kagaz Ke Phool and Guide, in spite of being classics from the Bollywood stable, could not make it to the Oscars either.
Both Dev Anand and Vijay Anand had shared that a long-term stay in the USA would have been required to promote Guide for the Oscars, besides spending huge amounts of money to screen it for the jury and for publicity. Chetan Anand received a regret letter from the Chairman of the Oscar Committee in 1967.
Since the print of his classic Aakhri Khat reached too late, it could not compete in the Foreign Film Category. Then there was also a lack of support for the film from the Government.
Later films like Salam Bombay and Lagaan were initially well hyped. Yet they too failed to hit the bull’s eye. It is strange, but true, that Mrinal Sen, Buddhadeb Das Gupta, Goutam Ghose, Amitabh Bachchan and others from the Indian film fraternity are members of the Oscar jury. This was announced by the Oscar Committee a few months earlier. Goutam Ghose, without mentioning the subject, shared, “I was chairman of the committee in Hyderabad in 2013 to decide India’s Oscar entry. We conducted an impartial selection process. There were grievances about why The Lunchbox was rejected. All I can say is that to compete for the Oscars is a very difficult process.”