Jan 20, 2011

PFC/Rahmania posts

On why I didn't support Peepli Live's Oscar entry, at PFC http://passionforcinema.com/why-i-will-not-support-peepli-lives-oscar-entry/ (Broken Link) I am glad it didn't make it to the shortlist.

And a post on Rahman's musical ode to the Mother featuring songs like Lukka Chuppi, Azhagu Nilavae, Uyirum Neeye, Kalaiyil Dhinamum, and Oru Deivan Thantha Poove on Rahmania. http://rahmania.posterous.com/maa-a-musical-ode-to-the-mother

Update June 25 2011: While PFC is now defunct, this PFC post was the one that brought in a lot of comments, read brick-bats. Well, nothing as good as healthy criticism :-) Contents of the post follow:

Why I will not support Peepli [Live]'s Oscar entry!

Aamir Khan must have been a very happy person in this past decade (2001-10). With quite a few of his productions being in the race for the Academy Awards for the best foreign film year after year, he sure can take a bow for bringing visibility to Indian cinema, starting from Lagaan to Peepli [Live].

Peepli [Live], as a movie, did bring to the notice of many ignorant Indians, the burning issue of farmer suicides. Did it venture into the issue of trying to solve this problem? Definitely not! Was it a satirical take on the newspersons who try to make a living out of sensationalizing this issue, and many others? Probably yes! While not being completely satirical, the movie did have its moments, and was a class apart from the routine Bollywood movies that the industry churns out in bulk every week. Credit must be given to Anusha Rizvi who made this movie, and with her experience in a news channel, she was able to portray some of the tactics a news channel adapts to address an issue. A good concept on paper handled with a distasteful approach was the sore point of the movie. I am not trashing the movie completely, nor am I endorsing the premise of the movie, but it is just the amateur treatment of a burning subject that upset me. Much drama has occurred in the news channels following the Niira Radia tapes being made public, including some amount of double standards shown by a few news channels that owe their allegiance to a few others. Newspersons held in great regard have lost some amount of credibility among the masses due to this issue. The movie showcases the same loss of credibility of the journalists who tend to blow things out of proportion, which includes a TV cameraman and a reporter trying to track the whereabouts of the protagonist and the time of escape based on when he attended nature's call. Come on, is this truly what you want to see in a movie? Even the movie Summer 2007 handled some delicate issues in a better way, though it was not a perfect movie on any note.

And now the movie has garnered international attention, by virtue of its distinction being India's official entry to the Oscars. What are you trying to show to the world? Does the government want to show to the world, the extent to which our news channels will stoop down, in order to gain TRPs? Or does it want to showcase a realistic portrayal of the farmers' suicides and gain empathy from an international audience? The latter is most definitely not going to happen, and former, sure will partially succeed in tarnishing India's image further, after Slumdog Millionaire. I can only view Peepli [Live] as Aamir Khan's answer to Danny Boyle's Slumdog Millionaire, and it succeeds in creating a genre of movies that tend to be called 'poverty porn' (I guess I read this term in a PFC post; I don't tend to recall which).

If Peepli [Live] had gotten released, obtained rave reviews, made money and gone back into the archives, I wouldn't have been ranting so much. It is the fact that it is the official entry to the Academy awards that infuriates me. What further infuriates me is the fact that the melodramatic 'My Name Is Khan' gets long-listed in the regular category for Best Picture. I did like MNIK just for the SRK-Kajol jodi, though the movie was beyond that, and tried to address a global issue, but an Academy Award nomination? Sorry Academy Awards committee, I've partially lost respect in your criterion for choosing a movie that relied on a director’s faith on a superstar rather than handling the premise adeptly.  But MNIK was not nominated officially by India, so let me not get into a discussion on that.
(Update: MNIK was not nominated, but just in contention because it satisfied a few factors that makes any movie released in the US eligible for an Oscar nomination.)

Did we not have other 'good' movies in 2010 that deserved to get nominated, or for that matter in the past even? Take for instance Udaan that released in 2010. A coming-of-age movie whose story line is a global issue, and the treatment to the subject was on par with a few of the Oscar-nominated and Oscar-winning movies. Wasn't 'Dor' (2006) worthy of a nomination, for its brilliant portrayal of the quest of the journey of a woman to find another woman without knowing any information about the other woman? If you sent Devdas (2002) that depicted the grandest of the sets and costumes, as a nomination, why didn't you send the modern take on the same novel, Dev.D (2009)? Was it because you still want to portray India as a conservative state? Why didn’t you send the brilliant Kannathil Muthamittal (2002) that addressed a key issue of adoption and how the Srilankan Tamils were affected in the past three decades? And you send movies like Paheli and Eklavya for depicting the colors and art of India? Move on, India is beyond all that!

I strongly hope that a more-transparent voting system falls in place to decide India's entry to the Academy awards for the best picture in the foreign category. When the critics tend to praise the genuinely worthy movies, why don't you give them a chance to decide what makes it to the Oscars? Probably if we had such a system in place, we might have just gotten a lot more Oscars in the past years. That said, one doesn't need an Oscar to endorse a genuinely good movie, because the audience will surely identify it and grant it immortal status, sooner or later.

This said, I might be happy if Peepli [Live] gets an Oscar, but my heart will surely bleed while answering the questions posed by the non-Indian audience on this subject! India is not all about Peepli [Live]!

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