Tuesday, May 4, 2010

Why India Deserves An Oscar

Bollywood has produced some exceptional, evergreen, and extremely content oriented movies in recent times. Lagaan, Black, Taare Zameen Par etc. but still we do not find a place in the Best Foreign Film category in the Oscars. It is rather unfortunate isn't it?

If one was ever to write a paper on Antonio Gramsci's theory of cultural hegemony, the Oscars are a prime example of how hegemony plays out in the real world. Why are we so crazy about an Oscar? Is recognition by the US all the Indians are dying for? Will that prove to be an acknowledgment that India has arrived at the world stage?

It is how the media plays it, how our minds are shaped by the use of the internet, television and newspapers. When one talks of going abroad, it is usually presumed to be the US. Why? There are so many other countries in the world. They have better cinema, better actors, better standards for judging awards, then why are we so determined to get an Oscar? Is it because it is the most fair system? Or because it is globally accepted as being the most prestigious? Well, neither of them is true.

We tend to blindly replicate the West in whatever fields we can. Our slavery and colonialism is not over yet. Welcome to India of the 21st century whose latest philosophy is "When in doubt, look west". I agree to some extent that there are many things that the west (I mean the US in the present context) has achieved and done better than we could. However, it is not the be all and end all of superior civilization. Have you ever reflected on the t.v. shows and movies produced in India? How many ladies in India are dressed in saris worth thousands and jewelery worth lakhs 24x7 working in the house and cleaning utensils? Or how many boys and girls in India meet on the streets and start singing songs and everyone starts dancing behind them? It is pure drama and nothing else. Then why don't we have the same critical reflection of the shows and movies produced abroad. Not everyone lives the same lifestyle like the ones we see on Desperate Housewives, or Baywatch, or How I Met Your Mother or American Pie. Everyone in the US is not stripping naked and having sex all the time with almost anyone. (And that by no means is the definition of being liberal. But I'll reserve more thoughts on being liberal for another post)

However, getting back to my point, why is an Oscar award so important to us? I think we have been carried away to a point that we are just mesmerized by whatever is happening in the United States. We want to do everything the way they do it. I personally have great faith in our cinema (Yes, we do have our shameful moments like Ram Gopal Verma ki Aag and Jaani Dushman etc.) but our award ceremonies are as good and as fair as any other. Personally, I am one of those who believe that Slumdog Millionaire was awarded Oscars as a propaganda to show Indians in a bad light(I am sure there are those who disagree), and therefore, I believe that the Oscars are not the epitome of fairness and ultimate touchstone of recognizing good cinema.

It is time we start having faith in what we do rather than just be chimps and copy the west or crave for their recognition. When thousands die in India everyday in the floods, riots, due to poverty, earthquakes, we never observe a minute of silence. But when thousands died in 9/11, there was one minute silence in India. God Bless America!

Monday, May 3, 2010


A little worried it seems;
About mistakes made in past days,
A little more nervous;
Of the coming days.
A little stunned by people around,
A little more hurt by people on whom one counts.
Nor love, nor hate, nor faith answer today,
The questions on which life fades away.

A little boy, still wondering why the sky is blue,
Against a man on a quest to find the meaning of ‘true’,
Between them a teenager stuck;
Whom to fight for and on whom to give up?

When friends and foe seem all alike,
In shadows they play; in smiles they hide.
One looks back on everything learnt,
Wondering if it all should be burnt?

It is funny when it breaks; your idea of life.
When all you believed in, is in perpetual strife.
Then you search frantically for philosophies new;
But it is destiny who decides what in life is due.

Then why the wonder; why so much thought?
It is not for you to answer this great holy plot.
And when you learn this sacred truth,
Life would become more pleasant; a lot more beautiful to you.