MUMBAI: On Saturday, the Film Federation of India (FFI), chose a little-known Gujarati film, ‘The Good Road’ as India’s official entry to the Oscars. This itself would have not caused much of a hue and cry ordinarily, except that it was selected over films like ‘The Lunchbox’ and ‘Ship of Theseus’, both of which had been garnering tremendous Oscar buzz.
As soon as the announcement was made, social media was abuzz, but the views were mostly negative. Many of the people associated with ‘The Lunchbox’ especially, expressed their anguish over their film not making the cut.
‘THE LUNCHBOX’ FANS DISAPPOINTED:
‘The Lunchbox’ is a multi-producer backed film, with names such as Karan Johar, Anurag Kashyap, Guneet Monga, America’s Sony Pictures and others being associated with it. Moreover, the film had already garnered steady buzz in several International film festivals, so many people had assumed that it would be selected as India’s official entry to the Oscars in 2014.
Karan Johar said, “I have not seen the Gujarati film, but I am just deeply disappointed that ‘The Lunchbox’ was not selected. A film that already created a buzz at every international festival, a film that had an international studio ready to go all the way with it, a film that has the best reviews by our critics–if such a film is not sent then it is unfortunate. We might have just lost our chance at the Oscars.”
Kashyap too was visibly disheartened by the announcement. “For the first time I really cared for it and hoped for it because of the American press and Sony pictures Classic and their opinion on it. But it was not to be,” said a disgruntled Anurag.
Filmmaker Ritesh Batra, whose film lost the race to National award winning ‘The Good Road’, was also disappointed. “The global response to my film has been unprecedented. Is the fraternity telling us not to make good films in the country? Then the next best option is to make films outside India. If ‘The Good Road’ doesn’t get short listed, the film federation should be held accountable.”
Nevertheless, Film Federation of India’s Oscar selection committee Chairman Goutam Ghose was adamant about their decision and unfazed about the negative backlash. “There were other strong contenders but after a four-hour deliberation, the jury unanimously decided on ‘The Good Road’ mainly because of its content and form.”
Gyan Correa, maker of ‘The Good Road’, was upbeat about his film’s chances. Stating that his film won the National Award for Best Feature Film, he seemed optimistic that the Oscar selection committee hadn’t made a wrong decision.
Said Correa, “Most of the people venting their discontent over the selection are the ones associated with ‘The Lunchbox’. ‘The Good Road’ has won the National Award, and it has been picked for the Oscars by accomplished filmmakers. I think it stands a big chance at the Oscars.”
BOLLYWOOD SUPPORTS ‘THE GOOD ROAD’:
Correa has found supporters from within the industry, who felt it was unfair of certain sections to trash the film, without even having watched it.
Gauri Shinde, whose ‘English Vinglish’ was also being touted as an Oscar contender, said, “I can’t wait to watch ‘The Good Road’. If it’s the committee’s selection, I’m sure it must be a gem of a film.”
Even Prasoon Joshi, writer of ‘Bhaag Milkha Bhaag’, was magnanimous when he said, “I think we should celebrate the fact that Indian cinema is being talked about on a global platform. Gyan is an extremely talented filmmaker, and we must all support his film.”
It remains to be seen whether ‘The Good Road’ can go the distance, and can make it to the top 5 at the Academy Awards. But if it doesn’t, the FFI may have to rethink their selection process altogether, because rest assured there may be another round of backlash from the Bollywood film fraternity.