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'Paheli's selection for Oscars: A case of Déjà vu?
09th Oct 2005 22.42 IST
Will it be another year of "an opportunity for the coveted Oscar gone a begging" for India? It would seem so going by the furore over the selection of Amol Palekar 's Paheli as India's entry for the prestigious awards this year.
The Film Federation of India's decision on September 26 to choose 'Paheli' as India's entry for the Oscars, over films like Sanjay Leela Bhansali 's Black , Nagesh Kukunoor 's Iqbal , Madhur Bhandarkar 's Page 3 , Yash Chopra 's Veer Zaara , Ashutosh Gowarikar 's Swades , Sudhir Misra's 'Hazaaron Khwaishein Aisi', Ketan Mehta 's 'Mangal Pandey - The Rising ', 'Sachein' (Tamil), Anniyan (Telugu), 'Achuvante Anna' (Malayalam), 'Graham' (Telugu), 'Uttarayan' (Marathi), and 'Kadal' (Tamil), has met with criticism from several quarters.
While reactions to the development from the film fraternity have been mixed, trade observers see it as another case of Déjà vu in that it reflects the industry's high level of disinterest in the process of selection of films for the prestigious competition.
''We in India have never been known to send the 'best film' to the Oscars. For example, in an year when we had a brilliant film like 'Bandit Queen', we sent a commercial venture like 'Jeans' as our entry for the Oscars,'' says Ruchi Narayan, assistant director of 'Hazaaron Khwahishein Aisi', one of the contenders for India's nominee to Oscars.
Said film analyst Komala Nahata, ''''Paheli's selection as India's entry to the Oscar awards was surprising. I personally feel there were far more deserving films than 'Paheli' that could have stood a better chance at the Oscars.''
Among other who have voiced their disappointment over the selection of 'Paheli' are Bhandarkar who felt that his film was more deserving compared to 'Paheli'.
At the same time, filmmakers like Subhash Ghai hailed the choice of 'Paheli' as India's representative at the Oscars.
Ghai, whose film 'Iqbal' was among those in the fray before the FFI, said, ''Though my film was also in contention, I respect the final decision made by the jury. I feel that 'Paheli' was a deserving choice as it represented Indian colour, culture, ethos and its mystical beliefs. Moreover, the film is based on the original work of an Indian writer. I am happy for my friend Shah Rukh Khan (who produced 'Paheli') and wish him all the best for the Oscars. As for 'Iqbal' for me the very fact that my film 'Iqbal' was considered and was a strong contender is enough.''
Ghai also felt that it was unfair to criticize the jury as it had done the job assigned to it to the best of its ability.
''Before criticizing the jury for the choice, one must also consider the fact that the jury had to select from among several brilliant films. As a member of the Emmy awards jury myself, I know that making a choice from among such good films as were there before the FFI, is a tough task indeed. Such a process is highly subjective and no matter which film is chosen there is bound to be criticism of the jury's decision,'' Ghai said.
Sanjay Leela Bhansali
Shah Rukh Khan
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