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Up next: outsourcing Oscars

Anjum N | March 02, 2004 09:53 IST

Sean Penn and Charlize Theron at the Oscars"Academy-cally zero, yet again," yelled my friend Tarakeswar, alias 'Talkies', over the telephone at 10.45 am on Monday. According to his standards, it was early, considering he has his bed tea when most people think of breaking for lunch.

"Academically zero? Sorry?" I replied. "Why are you up so early?"

"Don't know when we Indians will prove our worth. Do you know we drew an Academic blank again?" Talkies continued.

"I thought Indians were doing well in all fields. India's Shining, you know? Even countries like the US depend on us for doctors, engineers, IT professionals. You can't call this an academic blank," I said.

"I am talking of the Academy Awards, you idiot. We got nothing. Nothing at all," he said. "I wake up at 6.30 am and this is what I get to see."

"Oh, the Oscars? But we weren't supposed to get any awards. We weren't among the nominees."

"So what? I thought they would give us one," he said.

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No amount of cajoling, arguing or reasoning would do. An Oscar it had to be. This is how the rest of the discussion went on. And on:

Me: Arrey baba, we didn't even send an entry this year. So why crib and spoil the feel-good...

Talkies: It's spoilt already. Seventy-six years of the Academy and not one award for our films. This is unfair.

Me: What's unfair? Why do we need an endorsement from the West? We make over 800 movies every year in India, including over 150 Hindi films.

Talkies: Exactly why we need an Oscar.

Me: Maybe they don't understand our films. You see, our sensibilities, culture and value system, our themes are different from...

Talkies: Okay. They don't understand it. But that holds true mostly for regional or parallel Hindi cinema. What about our commercial films?

Me: What about them?

Talkies: We usually copy their films frame by-frame. We are inspired by their music. We lift their story ideas. We shoot on their locations. We imitate their getups and mannerisms.

Me: We even call ourselves Bollywood!

Talkies: Yes! We also name ourselves after them. Yet, they don't give us an Oscar.

Me: But why are you complaining? Didn't you know we weren't in the race this year?

Talkies: Yes, I did. But I thought they would create some special categories to accommodate us.

Me: (laughing) Special categories? Now what's that?

Talkies: Stop it! Okay, 'Consolation awards' if you like. Even that shameless Shah Rukh Khan calls them that, though he and the Big B got most of those trophies this year.

Peter Jackson at the OscarsMe: Oh, you mean those let's-please-them-all awards? Those Critics Award for Back-Breaking Performance, Stars With Electrifying Powers, Outstanding Female in Streetwalker's Role, Barber and Tailor's Delight of the Year Award...

Talkies: Very funny. Why can't the Academy introduce awards like that for us?

Me: Maybe they aren't good at thinking up such names. Academy-cally weak, you know.

Talkies: Weak my foot! They just don't want to acknowledge us. Today, a Charlize Theron gets an Oscar for Monster, a Halle Berry got one for Monster's Ball earlier, but our Urmila Matondkar doesn't get one for Bhoot!

Me: So let's just give those monsters the boot and get on with life.

Talkies: (unimpressed) No, we just can't. We need to show the world we are worth it.

Me: You mean, we can't do that without such awards? Look at our own popular awards this year: five back-to-back sponsored events. None of them even nominated the likes of Om Puri and Naseeruddin Shah for Dhoop and Teen Deewarien. Tell me, aren't these actors amongst the best in the world? Do they need awards to establish their talent?

Talkies: Don't give me your pretentious intellectual crap. The world's changing and you better change with it. Awards are meant to reward and recognise commercial success, not quality or talent. You would have known this if you'd seen the Oscars today. Most nominations and winners represented big-budget films.

Me: Okay! Now tell me, how was the function? Do they also have song-and-dance spectacles like us? The dazzling lights, sound and fireworks on stage...

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No, we do a much better job with such items. They save such things for their films and Broadway shows.

Me: What about the back-scratching items? Did their stars dance to each other's songs pretending to pay tributes? Did anyone share their awards with their competitors?

Talkies: No. All the nominees were seated in the audience right from the start of the event; none of them gave stage performances.

Me: So it wasn't a give-and-take affair?

Talkies: I think I get what you mean.

Me: What about the presenters? Do they also get high-profile strugglers to give away awards? I mean, our events have the Ritesh Deshmukhs and Udita Goswamis presenting awards to established names like Javed Akhtar and Nitin Desai.

Talkies: These newcomers were accompanied by corporate bigwigs.

Me: Yes, mostly tobacco manufacturers.

Talkies: There you go again. What's your problem? An aspiring star is getting his/her share of the limelight.

Me: Nothing. Just that I don't expect a Shabana Azmi to feel honoured accepting an award from a Celina Jaitley. Do they also get their parents, friends and neighbour's relatives to the function?

Preity Zinta and Rekha at the Filmfare awardsTalkies: (irritated) The function is held indoors. So there are limited seats and the invitees get few passes.

And before you ask, some winners there did kiss 'n' hug their entire unit even as the audience, announcers and presenters wait for them to collect their awards and get on with the show. Like the Koi… Mil Gaya and Kal Ho Naa Ho unit did here.

And they also thanked the entire population of New Zealand for their own personal victories.

Now can we get back to discussing our empty slate?

Me: Yes, why not?

Talkies: (yelling again) I wanted Indians to win one award this year, next year and every year!

Me: By the way, did you know Indian computer artists designed the graphics for the titles and visuals introducing nominees for this year's Oscars? The work was outsourced to Tata's Visual Computing Lab.

Talkies: Next year, they better outsource the entire task of selecting the final nominations and eventual winners to India. That way, we can win a few awards.

Me: (laughing) Yes, it's high time we outsourced an Oscar.

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Number of User Comments: 2

Sub: Anjum N

Nice tongue-in-cheek look at the Oscars and Indian film awards, gently pointing out the flaws in each! Anjum N should write more!

Posted by chandrashekhar

Sub: India has not won an oscar ?

I would like to remind the authors that Satyajit Ray got a life time achievement and a standing ovation from the academy . But I ...

Posted by shantanu goswami


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