Everyone has an opinion about the choice of "Paheli" for India's Oscar submission. Some feel other films should have been chosen for various reasons. Others agree with the choice.
For me, as long as the discussion remains on the various aspects of filmmaking, I think it's good to talk about how films are chosen for awards.
I appreciated "Paheli" for many reasons. I liked the idea of recreating a folk tale of a far-fetched idea of a ghost falling in love with a woman. I also recognized that folk tales can also relay wisdom and insight, or serve as cautionary tales. Folk tales hold universal appeal for all audiences.
"Black" and "Mangal Pandey -- The Rising" were among those considered for Oscar submission. Whlle, "Black" is an incredible film -- beautifully crafted and portrayed, the Helen Keller story is well-known and that is one reason why I think it was not chosen.
"“Mangal Pandey -- The Rising"-- is also a well-crafted film and while the idea of seeking independence and overthrowing suppressors has universal appeal, it is an adult theme. Plus, its theme is similar to Lagaan, a recent Oscar winner.
"Paheli" is many things. It is well-crafted and portrayed. It is also colorful, funny, gentle, sweet, sad, and surprising.
I stopped watching Western films many years ago for many reasons. The stories seemed silly or violent for the sake of violence. Every other movie seemed to be about some freak terrorizing teens, or it would be another shoot-em up, car chase, sex for the sake of sex movie.
I walked out of "Monsters Ball" which won several academy awards. I also walked out of "The Green Mile." Both movies seemed emotionally dead and violent for the sake of violence to me. Many fine Western movies have not been nominated for an Oscar, an example is "Frequency" (2000), a successful, well-crafted movie. I understand the reason for awards but just because a movie is nominated or is not nominated does not necessarily mean it is a good or bad movie.
What I seek to take away from any discussion on film-making is a greater appreciation for the craft of making a film in all its various aspects. Plus, I gain a wider perspective of the world when others share their views.
I have noticed one thing since I began reviewing Bollywood films and this observation holds true for all filmmaking. There seems to be two mindsets for how a story should be portrayed. One perspective is what I call "hard-core realism" -- people in this category seem to view the world as a harsh, cold, survival-of-the-fittest place where you have to watch your back and you have to acquire more "stuff" to survive. The other perspective is what I call "Optimistic" -- people in this category seem to view the world as a friendly, hopeful place, where cooperation among family, friends, co-workers, and strangers are the basis for a healthy civilization. Both views are real.
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