I have time and again pondered over the pitiful situation that we have as Bollywood as a brand name representing Indian cinema to the world outside (just google with “bollywood+jocalling” to see my posts on this topic). For a long time, it used to be the self-styled ambassadors of Hindi cinema who keeps conducting the “Indian” film award functions outside India who are in a desperate need of selling the Bollywood brand in the name of India and Indian culture. But how would you feel when a Minister of State, who is the newest political messiah (after APJ Abdul Kalam – who also was mostly just hype) of our urban upper-middle-class babies, says this in the TED?
The fact is that Bollywood is now taking a certain aspect of Indianness and Indian culture around the globe.
Now think about the greatness of the times we are in – Bollywood being the face of not just Indian film, but also Indianness and Indian culture.
And what exactly happened to the quality of TED Talks? I think their tag line still says “ideas worth spreading”.
Do we call it an Indian victory?
That was the question that CNN-IBN panel asked Kamala Haasan (whom the media used to call Kamal Hassan earlier) relating to the Oscar sweep of the movie Slumdog Millionaire. We can see how futile this question is, since Slumdog Millionaire is a British production, directed and produced by a Brit and the major chunk of the technical crew were Brits. Why should India, the nation, celebrate the victory of Slumdog Millionaire? The British have a reason to celebrate but what does India have to call the 8 oscars the movie got as an “Indian victory”? Our celebration should be about the individuals who have won the accolades in the Oscar platform. A R Rahman and Resul Pookutty for the global recognition that they have got.
Adding to the absurdity is a comment from Delhi chief minister Sheila Dikshit. She reportedly said that Slumdog Millionaire has created history in the field of Indian cinema. How did Slumdog create history in “Indian cinema“? But she doesn’t just stop there and goes on to offer tax exemption for the film. The union Home Minister P Chidambaram has also joined the bandwagon by requesting finance ministry to exempt the film from tax.
Just think about it. So many quality regional language films are struggling in India without getting distributors or theaters to exhibit their films and the government did not do much about helping them promote their films. And then, a British film which was released under a big banner like Fox Searchlight Pictures win Oscars and it gets tax exemption in India. So much for our government’s love for art and cinema.
If the government and politicians are so much moved by the recognition that A R Rahman and Resul Pookkutty received in the Oscar arena, what they should do in return is to help these individuals help others who are interested in the fields of music and cinema. How about offering scholarships or sponsorships for talented but poor youngsters to learn the technical sides of Cinema? Or how about sponsoring talented but poor youngsters to get an entry into a renowned musical institute? Or how about helping A R Rahman to offer the poor but talented youngsters a chance to learn world music from his upcoming musical conservatory? Well, I think we will hardly see any of these happening.
Let me conclude with Kamala Haasan’s answer to CNN-IBN’s question, because he puts it rightly.
This day means something to Danny Boyle, Rahman and to an extent some of the Indians. But it doesn’t mean anything to Indian cinema till Indian cinema tries to make quality films. So when it does that, it will deserve the recognition and it doesn’t mean that we are not making quality cinemas. We are not respecting quality cinemas as it should be. That is because content might be king but placement is very important.
(Image courtesy: IndiaGlitz)