Zoya Akhtar’s Gully Boy, which was sent as India’s official entry to the 92nd Academy Awards, did not make the cut among the 91 films that were in the race in the Best Foreign Language category. And not many critics are surprised.
In an exclusive chat with this writer, Aparna Sen, who headed the jury for the selection of the Oscar entry,explained, “Gully Boy got the most number of votes. Because of its overall artistic merit as well as its popular appeal, the jury felt it would be the fittest film to represent India at the Oscars, which is essentially a popular award.”
But why wasn’t the more-deserving Article 15 or Hellaro sent to the Oscars, we ask Aparna. “Hellaro was not on our viewing list. Article 15 did come up to our final shortlist. But Gully Boy got more votes. In any case, none of our films were of the calibre of, say, Pedro Almodovar’s Pain & Glory. Almodovar is a master’,” she added.
That being said, film critic Raja Sen feels we keep sending the wrong film to the Oscars. “There are some sensational contenders in regional cinema. I wish the board selecting films for the Oscars would care what we critics had to say. It’s been a particularly dismal year for Hindi cinema, and yet, we seem to keep sending Hindi movies to the Oscars perhaps because we believe that only big Hindi films have the wherewithal to mount a large Oscar campaign,” he said.