Indian Films – Quality or Business?
Indians are proud of Bollywood – the Hindi film industry based in Mumbai. The gross earnings of some of the Hindi movies are really impressive. It is also instrumental in creating direct and indirect job opportunities for millions of Indians – not only as actors, actress and directors, but also as crew and ‘extra’s. Of course all these prove that Indian films are accepted well in the market.
However, when we take a different look at the same industry and try to look at how Indian films are received by the critics, we get an entire different picture. It is well known that none of the Indian films has ever won an Oscar. The only entries of Oscar from India are Satyajit Ray (Academy Honorary Award – 1991) and A. R. Rahman (Best Original Score and Best Original Song – 2009) (won’t count Slumdog Millionaire as the director was not Indian). The Cannes Film festival, one of the most prestigious film award winning spot, has awarded only 7 films so far. None of these happened in last 10 years. It seems 1950s were the best of the films, getting 3 out of these 7. The most prestigious award of Palme d’Or was awarded to only a single Indian film – named Neecha Nagar in 1946. It was directed by Chetan Anand, brother of famous film actor Dev Anand. Pather Panchali, possibly the best Indian film ever made, had the award of Best Human Document in 1955. The last award was on Camera work – Murali Nair won it in 1999 for his film Marana Simhasanam. The list of 7 has 3 Hindi, 2 Bengali and 1 each for Marathi and Malayalam films, one of the Hindi films (Do Bigha Zamin) is actually a remake of a Bengali film.
The failure is not limited to awards only. Last ten years, Indian films seldom have make a cut in the nominations list. The list of entries have Udaan(2010) and Pattiyude Divasam(2001) and Arimpara(2003) and the latter ones are from the same Keralite director – Murali Nair. I should rather say that Indians did better to be a part of the jury since three Indians made it to the jury list – Arundhati Roy, Aishwarya Rai and Nandita Das. In Asian Film Festival (Hong Kong) only a couple of awards went to India in last four years – Amitabh Bachchan won the Lifetime Achievement award and Om Shanti Om won the best composer award.
The failure is even more prominent for the entire South Asia, which produced only a couple of awards in last ten years (Sulanga Enu Pinisa from Srilanka in Camera d’Or – 2005 and Matir Moina from Bangladesh won FIPRESCI award in 2002). With a population of 1.5 billion and such success in commercial movie industry – this is one huge gap one should try to fix. The region has enough stories to tell the world, but it is really unfortunate that those ones seldom get to the screen.
Interesting to see in the list below – the presence of Hindi films in the list is quite rare given the number of films produced each year in Hindi. Two of the three Hindi films mentioned here are actually made by non-Hindi speaker Directors and the last one is a documentary co-produced in Hindi and English.
A list of Indian Films awarded by FIPRESCI (2000-2010)
|The Fortunate One (Sonam)||Ahsan Muzid||Monpa||2007|
|Painted Rainbow||Gitanjali Rao||English||2007|
|AFSPA, 1958||Haobam Paban Kumar||Manipuri||2006|
|Maine Gandhi Ko Nahin Mara||Jahnu Barua||Hindi||2006|
|My Friend Su||Neeraj Bhasin||English||2001|
|Vanaprastham||Shaji N. Karun||Malayalam||2000|
|Paromitar Ek Din||Aparna Sen||Bengali||2000|
|Oru Cheru Punchiri||M.T. Vasudevan Nair||Malayalam||2000|
The next one is the list of NETPAC awards (2000-2010) –
|Final Solution||Rakesh Sharma||Hindi||2004|