When I predicted (Read the article here) a couple of months back that India made a mistake by selecting ‘Visaranai’ as its Oscar entry and that it would never be able to make the final five, there was a lot of hue and cry. Many readers complained how could I make such a bold prediction without even seeing the film. Some thought my presumptions were wrong. Some readers were so angry with my article that they abused and threatened me with serious consequences.
After today’s announcement of nine shortlisted films (read the full list here), I won’t say I feel vindicated, because I am as concerned by India’s exclusion as any of those angry commenters. The only difference is that I knew ‘Visaranai’ fate the day it was announced as India’s Oscar entry, while those angry readers were too blindsided by their jingoism. My prediction was never an attempt to malign Tamil cinema. Neither was it my figment of imagination nor my gut instinct. It was based on what I have learnt after several years of watching and analyzing Oscars.
I would also like to re-emphsize that my attempt has always been — and always will be — to point out flaws and ignorance of the Indian Oscar selection committee. I know the Oscar game too well and, at the risk of sounding self-effusive, much better than those committee members. Selecting a film as Oscar entry is a strategic — and not an emotional — move. The sooner everyone, including selection committee and Indian cinephiles, realize this the better. Whether Oscars themselves are important or not is a different discussion altogether. But just ask a Marion Cotillard or a Alejandro González Iñárritu what an Oscar trophy or even a nomination can do to a career.