In recent years Bollywood is getting beaten handsomely by regional cinema in India’s race to the coveted Oscars. In the last six years only two Hindi films (BARFI, LIAR’S DICE) got selected as India’s official entry in the foreign language category while the other four films that got selected as our official entry for the said category where in Malayalam, Gujarati, Marathi and Tamil.COURT AND VISARANAI
The selection of Vetrimaaran’s VISARANAI (Interrogation) a hard hitting bilingual on police brutality in Tamil and Telugu this year is the second in the row after the selection of Marathi court room drama COURT helmed by Chaitanya Tamhane.
Beating BAJIRAO MASTANI, FAN, SULTAN, AIRLIFT, The National award winner VISARANAI starring Dinesh Ravi, Anandhi and Aadukalam Murugadoss, produced by actor Dhanush’s Wunderbar Films, was reported to be the ‘unanimous’ choice as reportedly said by filmmaker Ketan Mehta, chairman of the selection committee of Film Federation of India (FFI).
Similarly last year Debutant Tamhane’s arty satire exposing the flaws of the Indian judicial system won over BAJRANGI BHAIJAAN, PK, MASAAN, MARY KOM, HAIDER, and BAAHUBALI.
The concern is certainly not about the cinema that is getting selected; COURT and VISARANAI are better art anytime compared to the Bollywood biggies mentioned above, it’s the rate of diminishing frequency from Hindi cinema to the Oscar race that is a bit worrying.
India is the largest democracy and also the producer of highest number of films. According to statistics available with Central Board of Film Certification, out of the 1800+ films certified last year around 300 were in Hindi and Tamil cinema was almost at par with Telugu slightly behind with around 280 titles now that’s a staggering figure.
At the box office too regional cinema is surpassing Bollywood biggies, Rajinikanth’s KABALI opened to a bumper Rs. 48 crores at the Indian box office emerging as the highest grossing Indian film beating Salman Khan’s SULTAN which collected Rs. 36.5 crore from the domestic box office on the opening day.
Regional language is a force and Hollywood has started recognizing it, now we have popular Hollywood franchises getting dubbed in Hindi, Tamil, Telugu and sometimes even in Bhojpuri.
The Indian cinema’s Oscar story that began in 1957 with Mehboob Khan’s MOTHER INDIA glory in 1957 needs some rethink in its Hindi language category. Though the selection process is debatable where questions on the selection of VISARANAI, COURT is argued for its overwhelming ability to touch ‘Indian’ chords while leaving the worldwide strings of emotions unturned and as a result the selection comes undone at the Oscar.
Still the growing influence of regional cinemas in number of films being produced and box office collection plus its edge in managing to win over more deserving Hindi cinema like LUNCH BOX, AIRLIFT, for the coveted Oscars is a reason for Bollywood to do a rethink.