"What's in The Lunchbox ?"-Ritesh Batra's "The Lunchbox" makes it to the BAFTA's.
Out of 30 films submitted this year by Indian filmmakers from all over the country, one was selected to represent the country’s hope and wish to win an Oscar at the prestigious Academy Awards,2015, which is scheduled to be held on February 22nd, at the Dolby Theatre, Los Angeles. This year India’s official entry for the Oscars was Geetu Mohandas’s directorial debut “liar’s dice”. The film won the National award for “Best Actress” and “Best Cinematography” and has been lauded for its artistry in numerous film festivals in India and abroad.
The secretive and uncommunicative FFI (Film Federation of India) has again followed the same unpopular and flawed process of choosing members from all over the country for a committee that will select this year’s film, which will be India’s official submission to the Oscars. Well, as mentioned above liar’s dice made the cut and went forward to taste the very same pleasure of defeat that Indian films have tasted for the last 50 years. Films such as Shahid, Queen, Mardaani, Jatishwar, Fandry and Yellow which hugely had some chance to make it to the January shortlist, let us not think about the top five, were rejected.
This mysterious committee headed by T. Hariharan felt that selecting liars dice as this year’s entry will be much appropriate as it deals with major issues which clearly needs some light. The issues shown by liar’s dice are migration and its hazards. How rural people of India are repressed and exploited when they move from their villages to the cities, where in search of work they are lost in the midst noise, light and people of the cities. The struggle to survive and keep our near and dear ones safe is what “Liar’s Dice” Offers. This is clearly something American audience or the world audience or every person on this planet will definitely connect to, IM SURE OF IT! Issues of discovering oneself and gaining self confidence (queen), fighting for the right of the people (shahid), women empowerment (Mardaani) are definitely going on in India only. These issues are definitely not present outside India, according to the unknown “geniuses” of the committee.
The lack of transparency and tight-lipped nature of FFI has lead to this repeated defeat of the country that produces the highest number of films in the world. The unknown necessity of FFI to keep the selection process so reticent that the audience or the cine goers never ever get to point out the mistakes made by the committee. This foolish tantrum of FFI should be eradicated and they should really try considering the peoples opinion on the selection of films. Critical analysis is important but they should also see towards the fact that collective analysis is equally essential in making an evaluation to choose the right film. When Lagaan was sent as the country’s official submission more than a decade ago, everyone accepted it as the perfect choice. As a result it made to the top five finalists. Even though it did not win, it was hugely praised by the Academy. But this year the film that was sent, it hasn't seen by more than half the people of India. The outcome was same as last year “rejection”.
Last year Ritesh batra’s “THE LUNCHBOX” was widely lauded by public and critics from all over the world. The film also won the Grand Rail d’Or at the esteemed Cannes Film Festival and also received standing ovations during its screenings. All of this definitely pointed to one fact that previous year’s Indian submission for the Oscars should have been “THE LUNCHBOX” but no, our hugely informed and intellectually bright jury chose Gujrati film” THE GOOD ROAD” instead. Surprisingly, for them, India couldn't make it to the finalists, which of course the jury did not see coming.
Fortunately, we made it to the British Academy of Film and Television Awards this year by the very film FFI rejected last year, YES! “THE LUNCHBOX” has been nominated for a bafta in the category of “BEST FOREIGN FILM (LANGUAGE OTHER THAN ENGLISH)”. It is of great pleasure to see that the film finally got the chance to show the oversight done by the FFI because of which India blew its chance of getting at least a nomination last year. The same mistake got repeated this year too, but what’s done is done there is no changing it. Let us keep our fingers crossed hoping that “THE LUNCHBOX” wins the BAFTA and FFI doesn’t do the same mistake again in the coming years…
BY PANKAJ PRADIP BARUA