I am sorry you were not nominated for the Oscars in the Foreign Film Category from India. That honour went to a Gujarati film THE GOOD ROAD.
While everybody knows what happened after your birth, not many know the trouble you had to go through.
I believe that once you were conceived, your road to delivery was not good; you had a rough ride. To begin with, not many believed in your story. To top it, you were shot on a shoe-string budget with the makers literally having difficulty in making ends meet. You see, there was no item number in any of your compartments, no raunchy lyrics nor grand sets. So why would commercial producers back you up? You seemed bland and tasteless.
You feared that you would never be prepared.
But those who believed in you went ahead nevertheless and it was only when you were delivered and the world saw you at various film fests across the globe that opportunists saw commercial success and jumped onto the ‘Oscar Bandwagon’. Suddenly, you had many fathers wanting to shade and nurture you. Not because they loved or cared for you, but because in you they saw their shot to glory.
Sad. Very sad. But this is the honest truth of how cinema is viewed in India [Bollywood]. Not many have the guts to back off-beat cinema. Anurag Kashyap and Guneet Monga [the only two who believed in you] suddenly found willing partners.
Indeed, the sweet aroma of good food ups the hunger pangs of even those who have just had a hearty meal. That is precisely what happened. There was a beeline of producers who wanted their name attached! Like Sajjan Fernandes, they wanted to lick you dry!
One even went to the extent of saying that he thought that Ritesh Batra, your director, would bring the Oscars home. He forgot that there was a selection process!
For me, I thought LESSONS IN FORGETTING was a good bet for the Oscars as India’s nomination. But I soon learnt that even though there was interest from the right quarters, that film directed by Unni Vijayan, was mostly English with a bit of Hindi and another regional language. That automatically disqualified it. But it was a heart-wrenching movie that even depicted rape in the midst of a festivity!
I know it is not your fault, but those who created you, in their hurry forgot to take care of one important element: the dabbawala community. Poor guys, they have no one who will fight for them, so no one even took up for them. Even the Six Sigma rating meant nothing to anyone.
I only hope that in the future, producers back projects like you in the initial stage rather than wanting to ride piggy back.
That would make life simple for everyone working on the film. Money is an important aspect. Everyone who worked on you had to cut their normal fees and some even worked for half of what they normally do. That same producer (who had won the Oscars in his head) even went to the extent of claiming that your maker, Ritesh, was someone ‘he’ ”mentored.” How cheap!
Sorry once again. I only hope it was not my rating of 2 that did you in. Even the many producers who jumped on to you at the last minute failed to see that one defining flaw which I mentioned in my review.
Six Sigma Certification is not something that anyone or anybody is given. You know that and I know you love the dabbawalla. After all, it is in their loving hands that you move on ‘The Good Road’, from kitchen to office.
God Bless You
(This weekly column tries to be as honest as honest can be… )