Why Bollywood Movies Never Win at the Academy Awards

Bollywood and oscars at the academy awards
The Elusive Idol

The Oscars, formally known as The Academy Awards, are still oblivious to the magnanimous pools of talent that lie within Bollywood’s professionals. These awards are one of the most prestigious award ceremonies in the world of film-making and winning an Oscar (in spite of all its criticisms) is still considered as an achievement by all and sundry. Every year, one of our desi films gets nominated to the Oscars in the ‘Best Foreign Film’ category, but we have never won.

Is an Oscar really that important for Bollywood?

You might ask this question considering all the local award ceremonies we have here in India such as the Filmfare awards, IIFA awards, Star Screen Awards, etc. Most will have publicly argued that we really do not need an Oscar to prove that we can make good films. However, these very same people nurture the secret fantasy of someday winning an Oscar. The Academy Awards are in fact the oldest and most credible judges of American and today, even world cinema. They were started in 1929 and after 82 years, have judged over 40 million movies over the world. Pick any Academy Award nominee or winner and watch their films, and you will like it. Every film craves for international recognition (for obvious reasons duh. Look at Freida Pinto for example). And there’s no denying that Oscars are the surest way of getting this recognition. The catch is – you gotta be really really good.

Some Facts which relate Indian Movies to the Academy Awards

  • Click this link for: A list of Academy Award Winning Films in the best foreign language film category.
  • And this link for: A list of the Indian submissions for the same award till date.

India’s closest brush with winning these prestigious awards was almost two decades back when Satyajit Ray, the par excellence Bengali filmmaker, was bestowed with an honorary Oscar for his contribution to cinema. He won that award only a few weeks before his death. Now, that was a notable achievement without doubt! Apart from Ray, no other film maker or film produced in the 10 different film industries of India has ever won a credible award, a.k.a Academy Awards, to prove their mettle in front of the world.

Moving on however, the questions Bollywood should be asking today is –  How far have we got with our creative ability and status as the world’s largest film industry in terms of ticket sales and number of films produced every year?

As a film industry on the whole, how much have we really achieved and given back to the country after 63 as an independent nation? Are we really going anywhere with all our ‘Action Replayy’ s and Golmaal’s (The original Amol Palekar movie was way better than the recent crass comedy starring Ajay Devgn and gang).

Current Status of Indian Films

Frankly, we are nowhere close to beating the competition we are faced with from film industries in other parts of the globe. Nearly all other major film industries in the world have won several oscars for their films and it is time that we proved ourselves. All we have been doing is fooling ourselves and the public by asking questions such as ‘How much money will so and so movie make?’ or ‘Will I ever get to work with Katrina or Kareena or Priyanka’ or ‘How many kissing scenes there are’ or ‘How much nudity there is’ or ‘How much controversy my film will make’ and so on and so forth.

Peepli Live – India’s 2010 entry to the Oscars

For 2010, the critically acclaimed film Peepli Live has been selected as India’s official nomination for Oscars and only time will tell if we can manage to grab this elusive figure in gold. Watch the trailer of Peepli Liveor read the Peepli Live Review to see if its really that fit as our entry to the Academy Awards.

Stories in Indian films – Bollywood needs to wake up!

With more than half of Bollywood’s movies getting slammed with plagiarism and copyright infringement charges, it has become difficult to identify an authentic story from a ‘copied’ one. Critics rue the fact that Bollywood films lack originality. Gone are the times of yesteryear when films like Mother India or Guide were made. Sometimes, we do come across heart-wrenching and authentic films like Udaan. Then again, even such movies don’t end up progressing much beyond a Cannes nomination and some other film festivals.

Ask any Hollywood star with an inkling of knowledge regarding the Bollywood fraternity. You will find that in the majority of their minds our Bollywood films are categorized as movies with mindless ‘song and dance sequences’. The melodrama of hero killing villain and saving the damsel in distress has left a taste in the mouths of foreign critics, one which is potential ridicule.  The proverbial phrase ‘land of snake charmers’ is also used as a predominant description when referring to our movies. It is not surprising that in a Hollywood film like Hiss, the Indian seductress/actress Mallika Sherawat is roped in!

The exposure of most Bollywood movies in terms of concept, storyline, and theme is still narrow and conventional. Some directors do try to break the stereotypical mould, but then again, Bollywood still has ‘miles to go’ before winning an Oscar.

But Slumdog Millionaire Did Win?….

Yes, it did, but think again! What does the movie project? The poverty ridden byline of Mumbai with filth spread around, young kids begging, stealing, and trying to make the best of their existence is what it projects. Moreover, we cannot forget that it is originally a Hollywood production in spite of Indian actor, Anil Kapoor, and Indian musician, A.R Rehman, working in the film and being recognized for their stellar work therein.

Here, it is fit to enquire – what are the elements that make or will make a Bollywood film win an Oscar? Is it about depicting poverty and slums only that makes a Slumdog Millionaire win? Don’t you feel that Indian filmmakers should rise above projecting a stereotypical image of India and its million stories? Shouldn’t they venture into something different? There is no harm in experimenting with issues and themes that plague a society. Yet still, the people inhabiting that society should simultaneously be responsive towards the changes coming from within

New age Bollywood directors and filmmakers are certainly different. They have an ‘edge’ or the X-factor that our Indian films seriously need; we need the ‘edge’ to create masterpieces that have the potential to win Oscars. Otherwise, we will continue to get nominations for decades to come, but the Oscar itself will forever remain an elusive dream.

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